As the New York 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. However, since we center our coverage on New York, we wanted to give our readers a look at why other great theatre cities choose to recognize ensembles with awards. Today, we hear from Jeffrey Marks, a theatre judge for Chicago's Jeff Awards about their qualifications for nominating and awarding their Ensemble Award.
"The Jeff Awards, (the Chicago Area Theatre Awards program) has always recognized the Ensemble category for Nominations and Award. Chicago Theatres pride themselves on Ensemble driven work, and the Ensemble Award is considered the highest award by both Theatres and Actors. The Equity Wing Ensemble Award is sponsored by Actors Equity Association (AEA). The Jeff Awards have 2 wings, Equity and Non Equity, and both wings award an Ensemble Award. Obviously, not every Production is an Ensemble eligible Production."
"Our judging guidelines for the Ensemble category state as follows:"
"Ensemble: A vote for Production is different than a vote for Ensemble."
For Ensemble, a vote requires that:
- The cast creates a seamless, focused integration of communication, reaction and response to one another.
- Their mastery of rhythm and timing creates a unified whole. Even if one or some enter and exit during the production, their presence is still felt.
- The cast delivers a unified vision and their work as a unit is stronger than the individual performances.
- Their interactions and connections spur each other on to a greater intensity and higher level of performance.
"Generally, an additional vote for an actor/actress in an Ensemble will result in that actor/actress being identified in the Supporting Actor/Actress category."