The 27th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards
Ruminations inspired by attendance, tweeting, pondering
Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway
Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 7pm
NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place
event site 

About two weeks ago I received an email invite through my membership in the Independent Theater Bloggers Association to attend (and blog or tweet or otherwise cover) the 2012 Lucille Lortel Awards.

“We’d like to extend an invitation for you to live blog the 27th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards on May 6, 2012 at 7pm. The Lucille Lortel Awards will take place at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University, 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square. Wireless internet and outlets will be available, so please bring your own laptop, tablet, etc. and any cords you might need.”

Mario Cantone captured beside “red carpet” — holding back a quip. Photo by Martha Wade Steketee on phone camera before it decided to shut down for the evening.

I passed muster (along with about six of my fellow theatre bloggers) and was told to report to the VIP table for my pass. I had no idea how this would work — separate side room with video feed? Press box up top in the venue?  The reality that greeted me, upon presenting myself at the VIP table (cool), was the receipt of a comp ticket to the event (but no “press” credentials per se) plus a guest ID and password to a wireless internet connection I soon figure out works only in the theatre itself and nowhere else. We are provided access to the red carpet “room” on the 10th floor of the venue and seating right up front in a box, audience right, orchestra level, to tweet or blog our hearts away. I was on a laptop, some others were on smart phones. As documentation I provide my raw twitter feed (hastag #lortels for this event) for my in-the-moment enthuses utterances, and the final listing in Playbill of nominees, winners, and others honored during the festivities.

So what has all this been about, this existential problem in tights? (Oh Stritchie, you are never far from my mind.)  For me, with all these accouterments and brushes with greatness and respectful viewing of admired artists from afar with permission to tweet about them in real time — how did this experience work out?

Adrianne Lobel. Photo by Joseph Marzullo.

I had a marvelous time — a bit distracted (tweeting wise) but this is my mode and I have reflected about the theatre tweeting experience before.  During the pre-show time in the red carpet area, I had an extended delightful conversation with set designer Adrianne LobeI (nominated for Galileo — and the designer of Nixon in China — we had much enthusiastically to discuss). Once in the auditorium, situated in our blogger side box, futzing with then finally establishing internet connections for our various devices, the intrepid set of theatre bloggers set out to process Off Broadway celebrating itself, in real time.

It turns out that tweeting an awards show may perhaps splice in a bit more comfortably with my comfort zone than tweeting story-based theatre. Between introductions and acceptance speeches and short filmed or live illustrative nominated performances, there is room for notes as well as side commentary in the form of a line of text typed onto a keyboard or into a phone. I felt less as though I was interrupting a narrative storytelling flow by tweeting the experience. However, reacting without notes at hand or lists of nominees visible or other information aids, it is possible in the moment to mis-identify people and titles and to miss some references.  The comfortable in-the-moment reflective tweeter in me continually fought the researcher and dramaturg in me throughout the experience. It bugs me when I don’t get the facts right straight away. All that said, this was a delight. I was a voting member of Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards committee for the last year of my residence in that amazing theatre city, and attended the Equity and Non-Equity awards shows and that organization could take a few notes on how to run an efficient and entertaining show from this adventure.  (Though in the end you can’t quibble with the Chicago theatre community’s ability to throw a good party.)

And as I stated in one of those in-the-moment awe-struck tweets: “27th annual #lortels year in review — dang there’s a lot of good theater/theatre in this town.”  And some delicious performances to catch every day.  With my enthusiast’s hat on, before I return to catching up with reviews and reflections on what I have seen already I say: go out and catch one of them.

© Martha Wade Steketee (May 8, 2012)

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