Tonight was to have been the 30th Celebration of Excellence in Buffalo Theater. Instead, I had a gin and tonic and looked through my Artie memorabilia.
That first Artie night doesn't seem like a long time ago, but it was. It was May 13, 1991, my 33rd birthday. Artvoice was a newly formed alternative, twice a month publication, and in a theater editorial meeting publisher, Jamie Moses asked Javier and me, what we thought we could do, in addition to writing about them, to advance Buffalo's theater community. Javier said, "theater awards."
We were young and fearless. We just did it. The Arties were an instant success, as theater folk, consumers of awards shows since birth, packed into Garvey's restaurant and out onto Pearl Street.
It's been a strange year. Covid-19 scuttled all public gathers and a big chunk of the theater season.
Tonight, Monday, June 15, 2020, we were planning to give out the Arties for the 30th time, now sponsored by WBFO/WNED. Some folks suggested that we do a virtual Artie Awards. We could have done that, I suppose, but the whole point of the Arties is the gathering of people, the coming together of the theater community. That's just not possible right now.
So, I called Robert Brunschmid at Shea's and put a hold on every available Monday night at Shea's 710 Main Theatre between now and Christmas. The Artie Committee voted this weekend, considering every show that had been able to run before social isolation. I am coordinating with WBFO/WNED to announce the nominees. We are likely to do this in waves of categories, a few at time, online, on the WBFO/WNED Facebook page.
And nominees might get to enjoy being nominees for a good long time.
In the meantime, we'll monitor the progress toward reopening and keep our wardrobes in order.
Here, I am happy to share some Artie Award memories. It is notable how many of the folks from that first night are no longer with us -- but is also impressive how many are still around -- including me!
Happy Artie Night, Buffalo!
Below, the stage manager's notes from the first Artie Awards, listing the presenters. Note that scenes from plays were performed; there were no supporting categories for musicals, and the culmination of the night was an award for Outstanding Season.