I’ve asked several theater practitioners here in DC to outline their vision for an event to replace the Helen Hayes Awards. (See the inaugural post in the series here.) The following contribution is from Danielle Mohlman.
In my Helen Hayes Awards, only two things would be different.
My Helen Hayes Awards would genuinely celebrate DC… so they’d do away with the non-resident production awards. That time in the ceremony would be dedicated instead to the work that comes out of our own community: a few extra minutes of attention for the recipient of the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. It’s the future Dizzy Miss Lizzies, Factions of Fools, No Rules Theatres, Factory 449s, 1st Stages, Constellations, and Taffety Punks who will grow this community, after all: who will bring in younger audiences and take risks on local artists. We would applaud them not because they contribute to our community, but because they are our community.
My Helen Hayes Awards would also be accessible. Artist tickets would be incorporated into the pricing structure, so that we could all celebrate with everyone who wants to come celebrate. Tickets would be sold at a severe discount with proof of a theater credit within the last season. (Say goodbye to those $75 “theater professional” tickets.) The day of the event, the remaining seats would be released as PWYC… and they’d be available online as well as at the box office.
If we made those changes, the Helen Hayes Awards wouldn’t be a night that my friends and colleagues joke about boycotting. My Helen Hayes Awards would embrace, recognize, include, and celebrate. They would give us a chance to look at everything we’ve accomplished and say, “Yes, I did that. We did that. Now let’s go eat a tiny grilled cheese sandwich and dance with our friends.”
I’d rather like my Helen Hayes Awards.