This month, actors and actresses will anxiously await their cues. This time, however, they will not be backstage dressed in costume. The cue will not come from a stage manager, and it may not come at all.
They will be sitting in the audience along with directors and producers, hoping to hear that their show is a winning production at the 2014 Tulsa Awards for Theatre Excellence.[pullquote]“The general public is very aware of the blockbuster Broadway series at the PAC and the huge commercial events at the BOK Center, but our own local theater companies are producing wonderful work on a monthly basis,”[/pullquote]
The TATE Awards are an initiative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation and provide a total of $20,000 for the top three theater productions of the season and one award for best youth production, says Shirley Elliott, program director for the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust.
Elliott says when the awards began in 2009, they were intended to recognize outstanding local theater by nonprofit groups and to attract a larger audience to it.
“The general public is very aware of the blockbuster Broadway series at the PAC and the huge commercial events at the BOK Center, but our own local theater companies are producing wonderful work on a monthly basis,” says Elliott. “They also deserve recognition and public attendance – and the tickets are much cheaper.”
Elliott believes the TATE Awards have made the theater scene in Tulsa stronger and more competitive by providing funding to those groups producing great productions.
“Most of the people involved are volunteers giving up their nights and weekends to rehearse and perform,” she says. “We believe the TATEs put a value on that kind of creativity and devotion, and the prize money inspires a bit of friendly competition that we feel is healthy for growth and improvement.”
There are eight nominees for this year’s award in the main category and two nominees in the youth category. TATE also gives two achievement awards each year: the Distinguished Artist Award, for a theater figure who got a start in Tulsa and has had continued success nationally, and the Mary Kay Place Award for a Tulsan who has actively worked in local theater for at least a decade.
Elliott encourages the public to attend the awards and hopes Tulsans will become more adventuresome with their entertainment choices.
“Tulsa has so much creativity to offer,” says Elliott. “I would encourage theatergoers to try something locally produced.”
This year’s TATE Awards will be held June 22 at the Cascia Hall Performing Arts Center, 2520 S. Yorktown Ave.