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 Dave Carley, a Toronto playwright, about the benefits of the Dora Awards' Outstanding Performance - Ensemble award.
"June is busting out all over, mostly with awards ceremonies. The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) doles out its Doras on the 26th. The award’s divisions range from dance to musical theatre and opera, with a whole lot of theatre in between."
"Six years ago, TAPA changed things up. A new 'Ensemble' category was added, giving producers three avenues by which they could have their performers considered. The cast of a show can be still be entered as individuals. But it is also possible to enter the full cast as an 'Ensemble'; or create a blend of those two, with some of the cast competing as an Ensemble and some as Individuals."
"It is a typically Canadian compromise, with a couple of drawbacks. The added categories make the awards ceremony last longer than the NHL Playoffs, but with slightly less bloodletting. And, if a big ensemble wins, it can cost TAPA big dough (albeit C$) for the requisite statuettes for every member."
"But the Ensemble category also addresses an inherent deficiency with the traditional best-actor/best-actress system. It is a perfect fit for many dance shows, and musicals that are strongly choral in nature. In the theatre division, it acknowledges plays that use a lot of doubling or otherwise step outside traditional, defined role or performance styles. And it solves the problem of how to honour a show that begs to be seen as the sum of all of its parts, rather than just some of them."