Coming hot on the heels of Sunday's Drama Desk Awards, the 2001-2002 Obie Awards honored the best of Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway theater last night. Among the big winners was Tony Kushner's prescient Homebody/Kabul, which took awards for the performances of Linda Emond and Bill Camp as well as for Kushner's script about a British homemaker who decides to venture to Afghanistan.
Topdog/Underdog, the Suzan-Lori Parks drama, earned Obies for co-star Jeffrey Wright and for director George C. Wolfe; since its run at the Public Theater, Topdog has moved to Broadway and won the Pulitzer for author Parks. Earning a playwriting Obie alongside Kushner was newcomer Melissa James Gibson for her play [sic], which bowed last year at the Soho Rep.
First presented in 1956, the Obies are run by the Village Voice. The categories are purposefully loose and unstructured. This year, 10 "performance" awards were given: eight to individuals, one to an ensemble, and one to Reg Rogers and Peter Frechette for their brother act in The Dazzle. The chairman of the awards committee is Brian Parks, and the other judges this year included the Voice's Charles McNulty and Alisa Solomon plus four guest judges: singer Darius De Haas, directors Michael Greif and Melanie Joseph, and John Heilpern of the New York Observer.
The Obies' website is well worth a visit, especially for the timeline documenting classic moments in Obie history. One example, from 1962: "Lotte Lenya announced an award to Samuel Beckett's Happy Days as Best Foreign Play 'with judge Walter Kerr wishing to be announced as abstaining.' After a moment's hush, there came a scattering of hisses, boos, and some small applause. On the podium, co-judge Edward Albee indulged in a brief, dry smile."
Here's a complete list of this year's Obie Winners:
Bill Camp, Homebody/Kabul
Ensemble: Reg E. Cathey, James Himelsbach, Karen Kandel, Anthony Mackie, John Seitz, Maria Tucci, Talk
Christopher Donahue, Monster
Linda Emond, Homebody/Kabul
Raúl Esparza, tick, tick...BOOM!
Juliana Francis, Maria del Bosco
Peter Frechette and Reg Rogers, The Dazzle
Yvette Ganier, Breath, Boom
Martha Plimpton, Hobson's Choice
Jeffrey Wright, Topdog/Underdog
George C. Wolfe, Topdog/Underdog
Mary Zimmerman, Metamorphoses
Kevin Adams, Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design
Marilys Ernst, video for Talk
Angela Moore and Michael Schmelling, set and lighting design of Drummer Wanted
Whit MacLaughlin, sound design for The Fab 4 Reach the Pearly Gates
A.R.T./NY for support of Off-Broadway theater
Daniel Aukin and Louisa Thompson, direction and set design of [sic]
Ingmar Bergman and the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden, The Ghost Sonata
Daniel MacIvor, In on It
Charles L. Mee and Les Waters, playwriting and direction of Big Love
Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch at Liberty
The Wooster Group, To You, the Birdie!
Melissa James Gibson, [sic]
Tony Kushner, Homebody/Kabul
Ma-Yi Theater Company
Salt Theater Company
The Ross Wetzsteon Award: