Last night at the Atomic Rooster on Bank Street, the nominations for this year’s Rideau Awards were announced to a room packed to the gills with, well, most of the Ottawa and Gatineau theatre community. I kind of feel sorry for the regular patrons who may not have had any idea what was going on. But then, who’s at the Atomic Rooster at 5pm on a Monday?
The Rideau Awards Gala is just over a month away, so it’s probably not too early to speculate as to the winners. The trouble is, I somehow failed to see everything that was nominated for last year. Despite promising myself after last year’s Rideau Awards to see more French theatre, I managed to miss every single one of the nominated French productions. Je débordes de chagrin honteux. Of the English productions, I did not see: Swimming in the Shallows, Heroes, Twelfth Night, They All Do It, Macbeth, Trouble on Dibble Street, Facts, The Danish Play, The Radio Show: It’s A Wonderful Life, or It’s Just a Stage (for which I apologize to Ken Godmere each time I see him in person, which is not nearly as often as I’d like). These glaring omissions will not, however, stop me from making some violent stabs in the dark; at least for the English-language awards.
Here, then, are my predictions for this year’s Rideau Award winners for English-language productions (please visit the Rideau Awards site for the full list of nominations; I didn’t feel like copying it out in full):
Wow, I missed over half of these. Shame on me. I’m personally leaning toward Turn of the Screw, but I heard so many good things about Heroes that it may just get it. I’m awfully glad Blackbird was nominated in this category; I was afraid it would be overlooked. Now I don’t feel so bad bringing it up as an example so often.
Did I only see two out of five of these, too? Oh, wait, that’s because it’s basically the same list; just swap out Facts for Twelfth Night. This is a bit tougher. Okay, how about Patrick Gauthier for a brilliant site-specific staging of Turn of the Screw, and Heroes can have Outstanding Production? Does that work? I think it works.
Outstanding Performance, Female
Oh, I am torn. The only one of these I didn’t see was They All Do It. Now, if we were talking about Sarah Finn‘s latest go at Shadows during the undercurrents festival, that would be my pick. But we’re not; we’re talking about the original run at the 2010 Fringe—still a stellar performance, mind you. Sarah McVie‘s Rita was great, but I don’t think it was great enough to take this category (we’ll have to wait and see if her adorable Sophie from Strawberries in January makes next year’s list). Kristina Watt exceeded expectations (and shut a few people up) in Blackbird, but then Catriona Leger crafted a set of characters in Someone For Everyone that basically made that show (I think I called it The Catriona Leger Vehicle at one point, in private). Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t see They All Do It, or I’d be split five ways. Watt or Leger will likely take it, and I’ll put my money on Leger, ever-so-glad that no actual money is involved.
Outstanding Performance, Male
This is interesting. If I recall correctly, the Capital Critics Circle had such a hard time deciding who merited their version of this award that they jointly awarded it to Paul Rainville, Peter Froehlich, and John Koensgen, for their performances in Heroes. Sly move, and probably well-deserved. The Rideau Awards Committee doesn’t allow itself such deus ex machina, however. To complicate matters, Koensgen is nominated rather for his performance in Third Wall’s Blackbird. Oh, and then we throw Kris Joseph into the mix for good measure. DON’T MAKE THIS EASY OR ANYTHING. I would take a gamble and say that rather than choose Rainville over Froehlich (or rob Peter to pay Paul; either way), it’s going to be a battle between Koensgen and Joseph (for Screw), and Kris Joseph‘s going to take it, if only because he played 697 characters to Kate Smith‘s one and did sound effects.
Outstanding Lighting Design
Guillaume Houët is bound to win something. He’s up against Jock Munro in the English nominations, so he may not sweep lighting entirely, but if he doesn’t win in English, he’ll win in French. I unfortunately didn’t see what Lynn Cox did with Swimming in the Shallows, but if it was as good as what she did technically with Shadows, she’s a viable contender too. Every single one of the shows I did see had remarkable lighting. This is a tough call. Despite the fact that lighting made The List, and was integral to the characteristic feel of Vimy, and Houët’s masterful crafting of darkness itself in Blackbird was breathtaking, Turn of the Screw was probably the most difficult and unusual lighting challenge of them all, and depended on crackerjack lighting direction so thoroughly that it was virtually a third actor. So I’m picking Screw.
Outstanding Set Design
I only saw Vimy? What was I doing? And why isn’t The List on here? Maybe I’m the only one, but I really liked the set of The List. I am hideously unqualified to even guess, so I’m crossing my fingers and saying Vimy. I hope I’m right, or I missed a set that was better.
Outstanding Costume Design
Shadows. Vimy was accurate (although I’m still not sure about nurses wearing boots, but the research I did suggests that they were issued boots) but there’s not much room to get creative with a well-defined military setting: you either do it right (which they did), or not at all. Turn of the Screw was simple, and if I recall correctly (from hearsay), Macbeth was minimalist costume as well—both of which are eminently suitable costuming choices… but not award-winning. Judith DeBoer created a whole wardrobe for two characters centred on one colour scheme, with costume changes an integral part of the action and essential to straightening out the timeline. Add to that the plays within the play, and she should get this award. But that’s just my opinion.
Outstanding New Creation
I am most sad that I didn’t see Airport Security (although I did read every one of Kris Joseph‘s tweets from the stage). However, I would kind of like Six: At Home to get this: for being innovative, creative, and “christening” the Laurier House space. If Shadows, for some reason, doesn’t win anything else, it will probably win this. And here I thought They All Do It was an adaptation of Cosi Fan Tutte, rather than a new creation. I guess I stand corrected.
I bet Heroes will take this. It’d be nice if A Flea in Her Ear did, but I don’t think it’s likely.
Outstanding Fringe Production
The way I forgive myself for not having seen It’s Just a Stage is by remembering my Fringe mantra: You can only see 53 out of the 60 shows, so see stuff from out of town first. It’s kind of a cumbersome mantra, but it works. I am so overjoyed that multinational gRape corporations got nominated. I can feel the toilet-paper bouquet as clearly as the day I caught it; I kid you not, I dreamt of it the other night. The Last Goddamned Performance Piece was good, although I would have liked to see the Nancy Kenny night for comparison’s sake. Probably Shadows will take this category, but it would be really cool if Six: At Home did.
Emerging Artist Award
I’ve got an idea! Instead of having an award, why don’t we have Anna Chambers and Hilary Nichol co-stage-manage a production starring Nathan Ings, Cari Leslie, and Guy Marsan? I would totally pay good money to see that. Those poor judges have to choose one? I do not envy them their task*. Well… Anna’s done pretty damn well this year, even if you don’t count her being Natalie Joy Quesnel‘s eyes, ears, and right arm for the Fringe Festival. I can’t go to anything—media call, opening night, random theatre party—without Ms. Chambers popping out from behind something. That’s what emerging means, right?
Technical / Stage Management Award
Oh, look! I is nominated for something. Why is it only one thing? Never mind: I pick it. That was a technically difficult show and set, with lots of props and pretty near 40 people moving around. But mostly because I should win the one thing for which it was nominated.
So, on April 10th, we’ll find out just how wrong my “predictions” are. In the meanwhile, I have to find a date… and some wings.
* I actually do envy the judges their task. And hard.