Most Promising

Everything that needs to be done is getting done in preparation for the RTCC awards on Sunday. One thing that tends to happen right at the end is the media part. In past years, I’ve been on TV to talk about the event; one year, Audra Honaker was kind enough to do a TV spot to tell the Artsies story. This year there will be a piece in the Times-Dispatch and an online blurb in Style. There’s talk of an interview on Open Source RVA.

As I’ve done some of the media stuff – always awkward since in most other circumstances, I’d be the one doing the interviewing – I’ve struggled with new things to say or ways to summarize the event that really captures what it is. After 7 years, I often find myself thinking you just have to be there to get it. It can be a rancorous and rowdy time, but every year I’m surprised at how it ends up feeling like a ‘community’ event, almost like a professional block party. Everybody ends up working with everyone else in our little town so, rather than a lot of grinding of teeth and stomping of feet, most years involve general good cheer; delight in being out and celebrating; and proud support for coworkers and friends.

Today – inconveniently after most of the interviews and stuff had already happened – I remembered that this year we are introducing the ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ award. It occurs to me that this award captures much of the aspirational and promotional intent behind the Artsies. The professional performing arts world is not a particularly warm and welcoming place. So very few people can make a living in it and even fewer make it big. Sometimes luck seems to be significantly more important than talent. Superficial judgment runs rampant. For young people who just want to express themselves or gain an outlet for their creative impulses, disappointments can be myriad and multifaceted.

With the Most Promising award, we wanted to recognize the potential in Richmond’s talented younger professionals and, in a small way, welcome them into a community that I think is a little different than he or she might find in other towns. And with the Artsies in general, we want to show the greater Richmond community (and anyone else who might be paying attention) that we have some very special things happening on our stages. We may be a middle-sized city but – given the likes of Emily Skinner, Zak Resnick, Clay Mcleod Chapman, Taylor Richardson, and many more – we have shown that we can produce big talents.

I’m excited by the introduction of this new award. But it also makes me reflect on how, when my cohorts and I started these awards seven years ago, we thought of Richmond as one of the Most Promising theater markets in the country. Last season’s crop of outstanding productions only reinforces that opinion. Please join me on Sunday to celebrate them and the hard work of everybody in this great community.