I guess I’m so disconnected from New York at this point that this year’s Obies came and went last month without my noticing (I don’t care about the Tonys–only would have written about ’em had Lisa Kron won for Well).
Sheila Callaghan is a New York based playwright–her “riff” on Ulysses, Dead City, just opened at New Georges. And she wrote about this a month ago, on her blog (wow! there are blogs on theater! Here! And here! And, oh, gosh, here! (hi Daniel! Remember when you wrote that awesome stuff about your time at modo in haiku for me and Jen Mitas when we were doing Living Newspaper in 2001?! Hi!)). She wrote:
…at the Obie awards Monday night, the award for “playwriting” went to Rolin Jones and Martin McDonagh. The award for “emerging artist” went to Rinne Groff and Neena Beber.
Rolin Jones won for The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, his first play. Neena Beber, who has been doing this for twenty years, won an emerging playwright award.
Now I am certain Mr. Jones deserves an award for his lovely play. I am sure Ms. Beber does as well. I say this with absolute sincerity and respect. But I am also certain that something ugly lies within the distinction between Best Playwright and Best New Playwright, when two of the awardees should so clearly be reversed.
So I have this fantasy that I am Neena Beber, and when they call my name I walk up to the microphone and say, “I appreciate that you like my play, and that you acknowledge my existence in this field… but you can take your fucking Obie and shove it in your goddamn gender-biased twat.”
Ms. Callaghan goes on to say more…go read it. Also, Juliana F. responds with this comment, which I’m printing and taping to my wall:
Here’s my checklist: 1. Get mad, read and talk and write about it. 2. Avoid the bitterness and despair that can slow or stop your work, make up prayers to alchemize your outrage into writing better plays. 3. Write these better plays faster than you were writing them before. 4. If you write great stuff but you are shite at promoting your work due to gender trauma, do at least one uncomfortable but good business thing a week to break that lousy habit, for 21 weeks in a row. 5. Do something for young girls, or for women more marginalized than yourself. Do some volunteer tutoring through NY Cares; send a little scratch to Save Darfur or the IRC, become a Penpal to a woman in prison. 6. Stand up straight, breathe through your nose, invoke Mary Wollstonecraft and other greats, and fuck that noise!!
I haven’t seen a play by Ms. Callaghan, but will when I return from Floriday. Crowded Fire Theater is producing her play We Are Not These Hands at the Ashby Stage from June 23-July 16, and will update then.
What do I think? I agree with Ms. Callaghan. It’s typical sexist bullshit: of course Neena Beber doesn’t exist until the Voice notices her existence. Alexis, what’s going on?