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The American Theatre Wing and the Village Voice Announce Judges for the 60th Annual Obie Awards

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New York, NY (December 16, 2014)—The American Theatre Wing (William Ivey Long, Chairman, Board of Trustees; Heather Hitchens, President) and The Village Voice (Josh Fromson, Publisher) are pleased to announce the judges for the 60th Annual OBIE Awards. Longtime OBIE Administration Committee chairman Michael Feingold will be joined by playwright Adam Bock, orchestrator Bruce Coughlin, director Lear deBessonet, scenic designer Mimi Lien, critic David Rooney, Village Voice critic Tom Sellar, and director Liesl Tommy, to form the OBIE Awards judging panel.

“We are very excited to embark on our first year as partners in presenting the OBIE Awards,” remarked Ms. Hitchens and Josh Fromson, publisher of The Village Voice. “Putting together a great judging panel is the single most important step in maintaining the integrity of the OBIE Awards. Michael Feingold’s constant dedication to this work is a tribute to the vision with which the late Jerry Tallmer founded the OBIE Awards to champion the downtown theater scene.”


“I am personally thrilled,” said Michael Feingold, “to have such esteemed artists and critics – including five previous OBIE Award winners – as my colleagues on the OBIE panel this year.”


As was previously announced, the American Theatre Wing has entered into a partnership with The Village Voice to co-present The OBIE Awards, Off Broadway’s Highest Honor. The upcoming OBIE Award Ceremony – the first presentation under this new partnership – will take place in May 2015 and will mark the Award’s 60th anniversary.


Productions that wish to invite consideration from the judges should send information to ObieInvites@americantheatrewing.org


The Village Voice created the OBIE Awards, at the suggestion of then editor Jerry Tallmer, soon after the publication's own inception in 1955, to encourage the newly burgeoning Off Broadway theater movement and to acknowledge its achievements. The OBIES are structured with informal categories, to recognize artists and productions worthy of distinction in each theatrical year. Over the decades, the OBIE Awards have played a major role in the Voice’s long history of championing work of innovative and exceptional quality Off and Off-Off Broadway.  The Village Voice put the new downtown theater movement on the map with its in-depth coverage, becoming a forum for conflicting viewpoints which helped generate excitement over new works and new approaches to theater-making. The OBIES have become a theatrical tradition, a meaningful way to acknowledge the best artistic achievements of downtown theater.  The list of actors, writers, directors, and designers who have received OBIES at pivotal moments in their careers is a virtual who's who of contemporary theater. While the categories of the awards have continued to change almost annually, the creative spirit remains the same. The OBIE Awards continue to salute a theatrical movement that's as important, and as vibrant, today as it was in 1955.


The American Theatre Wing (William Ivey Long, Chairman, Board of Trustees; Heather Hitchens, President) is dedicated to advancing artistic excellence and nurturing theatre’s next generation: on the stage, behind the scenes, and in the audience.


For nearly a century, the Wing has pursued this mission with programs that span the nation to invest in the growth and evolution of American Theatre. Traditionally, the Wing has encouraged members of the theatre community to share their off-stage time and talent directly with the theatre audience at large–whether it was singing for the troops in the Stage Door Canteen of the 1940's, or sharing their stories on a podcast today. 


As the founders of The Tony Awards®, the American Theatre Wing has developed the foremost national platform for the recognition of theatrical achievement on Broadway. Yet the Wing's reach extends beyond Broadway and beyond New York. The Wing develops the next generation of theatre professionals through the SpringboardNYC and Theatre Intern Network programs, incubates innovative theatre across the country through the National Theatre Company Grants, fosters the song of American theatre through the Jonathan Larson Grants, honors the best in New York theatrical design with the Henry Hewes Design Award, and illuminates the creative process through the “Working in the Theatre” program and media archive. The American Theatre Wing has also entered into a long-term partnership with The Village Voice to co-present The OBIE Awards, Off Broadway’s Highest Honor, beginning this year, which will mark the Award’s 60th Anniversary in May 2015.


Visitors to americantheatrewing.org can get inspired and gain insight into the artistic process through the Wing’s extensive media collection, and learn more about its programming for students, aspiring and working professionals, and audiences.


Follow the Wing on Facebook.com/TheAmericanTheatreWing and Twitter.com/TheWing.


Founded by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, and Norman Mailer in 1955, The Village Voice introduced free-form, high-spirited and passionate journalism into the public discourse. As the nation's first and largest alternative newsweekly, the Voice carries on the same tradition of no-holds-barred reporting and criticism it embraced when it began publishing nearly 60 years ago.

The recipient of three Pulitzer prizes, the National Press Foundation Award, and the George Polk Award, the Voice remains a vigilant investigative watchdog and a go-to source for coverage of New York's vast cultural landscape. The Voice's unique mix of in-depth news writing and reporting, incisive arts, culture, music, dance, film, and theater reviews, daily web dispatches, and comprehensive entertainment listings provides readers with an indispensable perspective on the inner workings of the world's most vibrant city. The Voice's daily-updated Web site www.villagevoice.com has twice been recognized as one of the nation's premier online sites for journalistic quality and local content. The site is a past winner of both the National Press Foundation's Online Journalism Award and the Editor and Publisher Eppy Award for Best Overall U.S. Weekly Newspaper Online. 


The Village Voice has independently produced and created such celebrated events as Choice Eats, 4Knots Music Festival, Choice Streets, Brooklyn Pour, Holiday Spirits as well as the most anticipated issues and guides of the year including the annual Pazz and Jop music poll, Best of NYC, and its Spring, Summer, and Fall Arts Preview guides. 


Judges Bios_________________________________________________________


Adam Bock’s plays include A Small Fire, The Drunken City (both at Playwrights Horizons), and The Receptionists (MTC). He won a 2007 OBIE Award for his play The Thugs (SoHo Rep). He is a Guggenheim Fellow, an Open Door mentor, and a New Dramatists alumnus.


Bruce Coughlin won a 1996 OBIE Award for his orchestration of Floyd Collins (Playwrights Horizons). Also a Tony® Award and Drama Desk Award winner, he has orchestrated countless shows on as well as Off-Broadway, including Urinetown, Grey Gardens, Light in the Piazza, 9 to 5, Far from Heaven, and Giant.


Lear deBessonet won a 2013 OBIE Award for her production of Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan (Foundry Theatre), seen at La MaMa and later at the Public Theater. She is the director of Public Works at the Public Theater, where she has staged large-scale community-based productions of The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale.


Mimi Lien received a 2012 OBIE Award for sustained excellence of set design. Her numerous designs for theatre, dance, and opera have included The Whale (Playwrights Horizons), The Dance and the Railroad (Signature), and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which won her a Henry Hewes Design Award and a Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding scenic design.


David Rooney is a theatre and film critic for The Hollywood Reporter. From 2004-2010, he served as chief theatre critic and theatre editor of Variety, and has contributed arts coverage to numerous other periodicals, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Rolling Stone.

Tom Sellar is currently the lead theatre critic for The Village Voice and editor of Theater magazine, published by the Yale School of Drama. He is professor of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale University.

Liesl Tommy is Associate Director of Berkeley Rep and a Program Associate at Sundance Institute. She won a 2014 OBIE Award for her production of Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate (Signature). Her other New York productions include The Good Negro (Public Theater) and Angela’s Mixtape (Synchronicity Space/New Georges).


Michael Feingold began contributing to The Village Voice in 1971, and was its chief theater critic from 1983-2013, during which time he frequently served as an OBIE judge. This will be his eighth year chairing the panel. A translator, playwright, and dramaturg, he has had works produced at numerous theatres across the US and abroad. He currently writes a monthly essay for TheaterMania.com under the title “Thinking About Theater.”


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