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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.

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