We've all seen the award shows where a presenter announces the nominees in a category and the cameras zoom into the faces of the hopefuls as they wait to hear whether or not they've won.
"And the Oscar/Tony/Emmy goes to.... the other guy."
Everyone smiles politely for the camera and does their best acting of the night because they really want to scream, "WTF?! I worked my ass off on that role." Susan Lucci made a career off that polite face as she was nominated nineteen times for the Daytime Emmy for Best Leading Actress before she finally won.
It's not New York or Hollywood, but we have a very active theatre community here in Dayton, Ohio. We also have our own version of the awards called the Daytonys. We also have the one theatre critic in town's Best of the Year column he writes for an e-newspaper. Yesterday it came out.
I've been doing theatre off and on for twenty seven years in Dayton. Some professional, but mostly community theatre or in college. I've worked with a lot of great people over the years and I've had a lot of fun doing it. I'm a character actor and I haven't lost out on too many of the roles I've wanted. I even had my first leading role a few years ago in Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue. I loved it!
The work itself has always been the reward. I love being on stage. I never did it for the awards, but occasionally I've hoped this might be the one that gets me some attention from my peers. That's what I thought when I went to the Daytonys the year I did Prisoner. As we all sat there and the names were called out I heard my leading lady's name get called as a winner. My heart pounded in anticipation because it might finally be my turn. The names continued to be called and then they moved on to the next category. Wait! Where's my name? I was there too.
If you know the show you know it's basically a husband and wife show until the second half of the last act when the family comes on stage. I just didn't understand how she got an award and I didn't. Its not like the Tony's where only one male or female can win in each category. Everyone deemed "worthy" gets an award. Apparently I wasn't worthy, I thought.
I swallowed my pride and went back to work on other shows. I did three or four after that. After all, it really wasn't the awards that motivated me.
This year, after a four year break, I jumped back on the stage and did an unprecedented (for me) three shows this year. Two of the roles really stretched me as an actor. For that I'm grateful, but is it enough? Here's the thing about acting on stage, you can't see yourself. The only way to know if you're doing a good job is the feedback you get from your peers, your director, and the audiences. And we actors are hungry for that feedback.
So yesterday the Year in Review came out. I scoured the listing looking for my name. It wasn't there. Not even as an honorable mention. Okay. Whatever. One person's opinion, right?
Yes, I'm being a needy self centered actor but I'm doing that because I wonder if it's time to give it up. Its fun, but I don't know if I'm any good at it. If I'm not I've got other things to do.
If awards do one thing they make wonder, do I suck?