So South Steam Productions was recognized by local critic, actor, director, and man-about-town Dustin Britt in his Britt picks. From our last Production - Blackbird - both our lead actors, John Honeycutt and Katie Barrett were recognized for Outstanding Lead Performance, and I, your humble blogger, was recognized for Outstanding Scenic Design.
You can read the full list here.
Thanks to Dustin for producing this. I don't agree with the whole list, but over-all it is a good one, and we're lucky that he puts in the work to assemble this every year. I hope he keeps it up. It adds some context to the discussion. Congrats to everyone who was recognized!
It's nice to be recognized for hard work. It is gratifying to see that we connected with critics as well as our audience. Dustin is, IMHO, one of the better reviewers in the triangle. I like the fact that he uses the extra space provided by the online medium to be more comprehensive in his discussion than others who work with word limits can be (through no fault of their own, of course). He takes the time to make critical evaluative statements on aspects like light and costume design that sometimes have to hit the cutting room floor in other reviews. Also, in general, I tend to agree with his criticism (not everything of course, but most), so that's a plus.
On a personal level, seeing Blackbird's scenic design recognized is gratifying because I worked my ass off to get that set right, and I think it came out pretty dang well. Now to be fair, some of that work was created by me due to poor planning and communication. Todd Houseknecht was amazing as always, and I probably tried his patience a bit. Jeff Nugent was also invaluable in bringing the set to fruition. But I did work my butt off to get that set looking right, and I think the finished product really worked. It was what I envisioned in all its drab and despairing glory. So it's nice to see someone else thought so too.
I am also glad for my lead actors, Katie and John. I directed the production, but I take no credit for their work. They REALLY nailed it. And to be frank, I think any list of the best theatre performances of 2017 that left them off would be flat wrong (I'm biased of course but really...). They deserved it.
It is nice to be recognized. But. We (and here I'm speaking to theatre artists) should leaven praise with caution. I like Dustin. I think he is one of the better critics in the area. But as much as I do like him and agree with him frequently, I don't always. His recognition is welcome, but it's not why we do this. I wrote a similar response to Byron's list in the Indy some years ago. Welcome praise! Put it on your resume! Use it to promote your company! But be cautious about believing it. And DON'T think that recognition (or lack of it) does or does not make your art worthy.
Your art is there for you and your audience. It lives in the room. And if it is good, you know it.
Go. Make art. Be happy when critics praise you, but be happier when the audience applauds.