NEW YORK CITY: The American Theatre Wing and the Village Voice have announced that the 65th annual Obie Awards, New York’s celebration of Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theatre, will premiere on YouTube on Thursday, June 4, at 8 p.m. Comedian Cole Escola will host the prerecorded ceremony, which will include performances from surprise special guests.
“New York’s Off- and Off-Off-Broadway artists inspire, challenge, spark change, and ignite passion,” said the Wing’s president, Heather Hitchens, in a statement. “They are the foundation of innovation and a vital part of the fabric of American theatre. This year, the COVID-19 crisis has challenged our community in ways we could have never imagined, but the creativity and collaboration inherent within these artists will enable theatre to ascend once again. The American Theatre Wing honors theatre that impacts the American experience. As the proud co-presenter of the Obie Awards we are privileged to celebrate this incredible work.”
During the ceremony, which was originally scheduled to be held on Monday, May 18, awards will be handed out for shows that opened between May 1, 2019 and March 12, 2020, in addition to shining a light on the productions that were in rehearsal and performance at the time the theatres closed.
The show will honor Michael Feingold, longtime Village Voice theatre critic and former Obie chairman, with a special citation for his work as a leading voice in theatre criticism, his advocacy on behalf of Off- and Off-Off-Broadway, and his 43 years of dedication to the Obie Awards, including 12 as the chairman. The Obies will establish a special citation to be given annually in Feingold’s name. This award will recognize achievement in criticism, dramaturgy, translation, scholarship, mentorship, or education, or for a theatrical contribution that has not been historically acknowledged by major awards.
Two Lifetime Achievement awards will be handed out: to Vinie Burrows, for her radical embrace of art and life, and for the strength and inspiration she has given to the world in a career spanning seven decades; and to Tim Sanford, for his extraordinary contribution to the theater, including 36 years at Playwrights Horizons, first as a literary intern, then as literary manager, then as artistic director for the past 24 years.
In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of its Obie Award wins, members of the York Theatre revival of Merrily We Roll Along will be joined by members of the original Broadway and 2019 Fiasco Theater revival casts for a special performance of “Our Time.” Songwriter and performer Shaina Taub will perform during the In Memoriam.
In addition, a pre-show fundraiser, featuring a live performance from Patti LuPone accompanied by Adam Michael Tilford and Kenney M. Green from Marie’s Crisis, will support the Wing’s efforts to support and sustain the theatre community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 Obie Awards are co-chaired by scenic designer Rachel Hauck and choreographer Sam Pinkleton, with Feingold serving as an advisor in the role of Chairman Emeritus. The judges’ panel for the 65th Annual Obie Awards also includes Lighting & Sound America editor-in-chief, David Barbour; lighting designer Mark Barton; choreographer Camille A. Brown; actor/playwright David Greenspan; actor Jennifer Ikeda; Movement Theatre Company producing artistic leader David Mendizábal; Broadway.com features editor Diep Tran; and playwright Anne Washburn.