Helen Hayes Awards Nominees Announced February 28, 2011

Alli Houseworth


27th Annual Awards To Be Presented Monday, April 25, 2011

Washington, DC – Theatre artists and productions nominated for The 27th Annual Helen Hayes Awards were announced this evening at a press conference hosted by The National Theatre in its Helen Hayes Gallery.

The Helen Hayes Awards is among the area’s chief community builders, helping to strengthen our region by building one of its most powerful assets: the professional theatre. Helen Hayes nominee and recipient credentials advance the profile of artists and companies as they pursue artistic opportunities and reference these credentials in their bios in thousands of playbills annually; as a result, Washington is recognized nationally and internationally as a theatre town.

Out of Washington’s 75 professional theatres, 51 theatres (the number that actually produced something for awards consideration) produced 196 productions that met eligibility requirements during the January 1 – December 31, 2010 judging cycle. From these shows, 156 artists, ensembles and productions from 21 theatres were nominated in 26 categories.

Sixty judges, selected by a panel of area artistic directors, cast 23,288 scores in consideration of 2725 pieces of work (performances, designs, productions, directions etc). From that work, 1,476 were acting performances alone.

A list of the 2011 Helen Hayes Awards nominations is also online at www.helenhayes.org.

Upon welcoming the crowd of approximately 200 theatre leaders, artists and patrons, Victor Shargai, Chairman of The Helen Hayes Awards Board of Directors, announced that:

The John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company will be given to two theatres this year: Factory 449: a theatre collective and No Rules Theatre Company. Factory 449: a theatre collective is committed to maintaining an ensemble of multi-disciplinary artists and professionals who are dedicated to the collaborative process of creating "theatre as event” through dynamic and innovative productions. No Rules Theatre Company was founded by a new generation of theatre artists looking to create, collaborate and challenge themselves and present the broadest spectrum of high quality, accessible, truthful theatre that will open the minds and expand the expectations of a diverse audience.

This award was established in 2008 in memory of John Aniello, a devoted champion of young, promising talent and an avid theatergoer since 1960. The John Aniello Award recognizes and encourages the efforts of companies who are just getting started yet have produced a body of work that is new, daring, and exciting. This is the third year the award will be presented, having been previously been given to Taffety Punk (2008), Constellation Theatre Company (2009) and 1st Stage (2010).

“Our board of directors and staff believe and are passionate about two things: one is that Washington is an amazing theatre town and the other is that theatre not only entertains – it transforms,” stated Shargai. “Theatre is a vibrant presence in our community and thereby enhances the lives of everyone in our ever-expanding region. We all want it to be even better, in ways we can't even imagine. And we are determined to make it so.”

Before announcing the nominees, both Shargai and Helen Hayes Awards President & CEO Linda Levy Grossman announced that in just a few months, the organization will be in a place where everything, including communications, governance, programming, staffing and funding – as well as the organization’s name – will be different. This follows an intensive 18 month process of strategic planning and reorganization with members of the board, staff and a consulting team from Compass that also included valuable input from our colleagues in the theatre community. The end result of these efforts is to evolve the organization and increase its ability to support and promote the unique phenomenon which is Washington Theatre. More details will be announced in the coming months.

The Awards Process
The annual announcement of The Helen Hayes Awards Nominations is the culmination of a year-long process that has been refined over 26 years and is rigorously governed by the Helen Hayes Awards Rules Committee.
Eight judges, from a judging pool, specifically endorsed for the purpose by a panel of Washington area Artistic Directors, are dispatched to see each eligible production. Each judge evaluates each artist’s work in the production on a 0 – 10 graded point scale in each of 25 applicable categories. Ballots must be submitted within 24 hours of the judge’s attendance. Judges have no idea as to the Awards status of any work they have seen and scored until the public does, i.e., when the nominees (and then the recipients) are announced. At the conclusion of the 12-month judging cycle (January – December), the scores from the eight judges who saw each production are tabulated by an independent analysis firm. Scores are analyzed, using standardized and widely accepted statistical models. The productions, artists, and ensembles receiving the top five final scores in each category become the nominees. In the case of tie votes, a tie-breaking system is used; and, if the tie still cannot be broken, the number of nominees is simply increased.

2011 Partners
The Helen Hayes Awards is extraordinarily proud to partner with Presenting Sponsors PNC Bank and KPMG;
American Airlines, the Official Airline of the Helen Hayes Awards; BNA; The Washington Post. The ongoing support and encouragement of these generous sponsors allows us to build audiences, honor excellence and educate the youth of our region – all year long.

Our Namesake
Helen Hayes began her lifelong love affair with theatre at the age of five after seeing her first play at The National Theatre. Her legendary work ethic and standards of excellence earned her the title “First Lady of the American Theatre.” Eighty years after her first visit to The National Theatre, she presided over the inaugural presentation of her namesake awards and continued to inspire the Washington artists that followed in her footsteps. The National Theatre is now operated by the non-profit National Theatre Corporation, and managed by The Shubert Organization.

The Awards
In 1983, Helen Hayes Awards Founder Bonnie Nelson Schwartz recognized that the 14 professional theatres that, at the time made Washington their home, were worthy of great attention and celebration. So when the first Helen Hayes Awards judging cycle began in 1984, the stage was set to cultivate a theatre community that would become the second most prolific theatre town in the country. While the organization takes center stage on one night each year to celebrate Washington area theatre, our work behind the scenes to build audiences, honor excellence, and educate youth continues for 365 nights – and days.

The 27th Annual Helen Hayes Awards will be held on Monday, April 25, 2011 at the Warner Theatre and JW Marriott Hotel. One of our country’s most prestigious cultural events, The Helen Hayes Awards annually honors excellence in professional theatre throughout the Washington metropolitan area. For more information about the Helen Hayes Awards programs and services and tickets to the Awards Gala (on sale on March 14), go to www.helenhayes.org or call 202-337-4572.

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