As the theatre community finds itself in the middle of Awards Season, The Ensemblist is often asked about the possibility of a Tony Award for Best Ensemble. So we wanted to hear from ensemblists about what Tony Award for ensembles would mean to THEM. First up, podcast guest and frequent blogger Christopher Gurr (Cats, Tuck Everlasting).
"I squirm under this question. Here’s why:"
"Different productions use ensembles in different ways. Some use them as the world or container or context of the main story. Some as a group protagonist. Some, let’s be frank, as wallpaper or set decoration (or set movers) behind the main story or stars. Some shows don’t have them at all."
"If I were tasked with helping the Tony awards craft a way of honoring the ensemble element on Broadway I’d pitch two things. The first, radical, the second, semantic."
"1) Ditch the individual performance awards entirely and only give awards for Best Performance by a Cast in a Musical and Best Performance by a Cast in a Play."
"2) Create an award for Best Use of an Ensemble (Musical and Play)."
"Option one appeals to my understanding of and commitment to theatre-making as a team sport. It is my preferred option. Option two might, by rewarding excellence in storytelling through ensemble, encourage excellence in storytelling through ensemble."
"Truth? I’ve got to say, I’m not sure I’d trust the Tony voters with option two."
"I’d like to retract option two. I’m going with my radical pitch: Best Performance by a Cast, full stop."
"To truly, truly honor how the actors’ contribution to a production works, it is only right to honor the cast as a whole."
"This will never happen. It is not how Broadway thinks and works. It is not how the American mind thinks and works."
"Disagree? I’m available for pints and discussion most nights after the curtain falls at the Neil Simon. Give me a shout."
- Christopher Gurr
Read more musings from Christopher on his website.