I've been involved with theatre for over twenty years now, and about 15 on a "professional" level. I've been through high school theatre, college, community theatres and small and large city's non-union "professional" communities. In that time I have learned one thing...
Awards, on pretty much every level, make people insane.
Doesn't matter if you're at a community theatre annual awards night, with people acting like they're at the Oscars, or just watching the folks ranting about who didn't get nominated, or why more people of a certain sex or race got nominated, or whatever. It. Makes. People. Crazy.
In the interest of fairness, I'm gonna disclose this....I have never won an award for anything I have ever done on stage. Never even been nominated. Well, except for "best hair" at the theatre honorary gala in college. I wasn't nominated at all, kind of a "surprise winner" thing...
In other words, it was all a joke. I also looked something like this:
No, that's not an actual picture of me, but no photos actually exist of my luxurious mane as it was in 1994, so...just imagine. (Plus, I have recently been pegged as a Kip Winger lookalike, so....whatever)
So, the only time I've ever won anything was when my united theatre department wanted to mock my 80's-style hair during the time of grunge. This is where I am coming from. The guy who's never been singled out...even for a nomination...as "award worthy."
I'll admit, this has bothered me, from time to time, over the years. I have suffered the self-loathing that comes with this job, and, many times, it stemmed from the fact that no one, who hasn't had to, has ever told me I was exceptional. I was kinda trudging along, doing what I did, and feeling like all I would ever be was...a ham and egger. Or worse, I was just kidding myself, and that I really sucked. The collegiate experience didn't help, because my limitations were made really clear to me, on multiple occasions, during that half-decade.
The good thing that came out of this was that I really don't care anymore. I had to learn to find my reward for my work from within myself. My work, at the best of times (yes, I can have moments of weakness, we all do), is between myself and the character. The audience is there to watch, and I certainly want them to have an emotional connection to the story. I don't need them to "like" me, and the last damn thing I need is to be worried about how the theatre community thinks I'm doing.
This goes back to something I've talked about before. We are all far, far too concerned with what other theatre people think. The people we need to reach are the people out there who want to see a compelling story, who want to be entertained. Our expressive form is dying because we, the people who do it, are the only ones who care. Speaking bluntly, giving ourselves awards, and the energy we expend on that, doesn't help. It just intensifies the self-reflective, snake-eating-it's-own-tail nature of the community we've set up.
Which is not to bag on the idea of honoring our own. That's noble, and I understand the value in it. If someone was to give me an award, hey great. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice, or it wouldn't be an honor. I'd show up, I'd thank the proper people, and I'd probably display the damn thing. However, I tend to see certain things said when The Jeff Committee announces nominees and/or winners that make me feel like people have lost sight of the fact that it's really just somebody's opinion.
Just because your show got a nomination in one area doesn't mean it deserves one in every area. Sometimes all the best new play nominees are male playwrights. Why? Because it's simply the opinion of a bunch of people in a room making a decision based on how they feel about it, period. A bunch of people we've empowered to make those calls with our attention to them.
I can't help but feel it's silly to get upset about it. Or to complain about it. It's as silly as getting upset or complaining when your uncle likes John Wayne more than Clint Eastwood. Of course he's wrong, but that's how he feels about it. Getting upset about it just enforces the power of his opinion, and undermines your own.
Maybe I can say this because I don't think anyone will ever actually give me an award, but, at the end of the day, the only person we need to impress is ourselves. You love your show? You love your performance? It's something you'll remember forever?
You've already got your award.