Ovation Awards, Ben Bradley, and Why We Do Theatre

The 2011  Ovation Awards will be held Monday night, November 14th, at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The Ovation Awards ceremony is the “big night” of LA Theater, our version of the Tony Awards.  Launched in 1989, the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards are the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles, created to recognize excellence in theatrical performance, production and design in the Greater Los Angeles area. Each year, 400 productions compete in 35 Ovation Categories, and are evaluated by a pool of 250 vetted Ovation Voters, who are all currently working theatre professionals.

This year, the Fountain Theatre has received nine Ovation Award nominations, including the prestigious category of Best Season for overall excellence year-round (for this season’s The Train Driver, A House Not Meant to Stand, and Bakersfield Mist). In the three years since the new Best Season category was created, the Fountain has been nominated all three years — and won the award last year for its season of Shining City, The Ballad of Emmett Till, and Opus. In the history of the Ovation Awards, the Fountain has the distinction of being nominated and winning more Ovation Awards overall than any other intimate theatre in Los Angeles.

Ben Bradley

Monday are the 2011 Ovations Awards. At the same time, Monday marks the beginning of the second week of the Ben Bradley murder trial. The black-tie Awards Ceremony downtown will be unfolding just a few blocks down the street from the Criminal Courts Building where the trial is taking place. The painful irony of these two events occurring simultaneously must be acknowledged. Ben, of course, had just started rehearsal to direct last year’s big Award winner, The Ballad of Emmett Till, when he was savagely murdered on New Year’s Day, 2010.  The glorious Shirley Jo Finney then stepped in as director, leading us all with her healing artistic spirit.

We look forward to Monday night’s Ovation Awards. And look back to last year’s ceremony when The Ballad of Emmett Till won Best Production of a Play, Best Director, and Best Acting Ensemble.

Our thoughts are with Ben. And we are reminded — we reaffirm — why we create art, why we do theatre, why we do what we do. And why it matters.

A video peek,  one year ago:

Simon Levy and Stephen Sachs: Ben Bradley and Emmett Till
The Emmett Till cast: “Why Theatre Matters” and “The Power of Family”
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