Many U.S. "theater towns" have annual awards ceremonies honoring the best in local theater. Seattle has long avoided such competitive displays, but as of this year the local fringe theater community has its own honors to pass around: the SPIT awards.
The first round of SPIT (the acronym stands for Seattle Pretty Inclusive Theater) awards were handed out Wednesday night at a crowded party at the Re-bar.
Sponsored by The Stranger newspaper, and voted by artists and critics engaged in the fringe scene, the 1995 SPIT awards were presented in eight categories. And the guidelines were a bit quirky: only shows at non-Equity theaters (that is, those companies that do not hire union actors) were eligible for consideration, and only those with an offbeat flavor won anything. Citations were also given to various individual artists.
Honored in the New Play category was "bluestory" by Kristen Newbom, produced last year by the Compound. "Holy Days," directed by James Lapan and David Espin, was singled out in the Drama slot, Greek Active's "Saint Joan" (directed by Stranger columnist Keenan Hallahan, a.k.a. Dan Savage) was the Comedy winner, the solo show "Jodie's Body" by Kian Sian earned a commendation, and so did Derek Horton's adaptation "Our Tow" (based on "Our Town") at Velvet Elvis Arts Lounge Theater.
A workshop of Chekhov's "The Seagull" staged by Robin Lynn Smith at Freehold Theater garnered an award in the Classics category, while the Annex musical "I See London, I See France" by Chris Jeffries and the AHA! late-night show "Bedtime Stories" by Bret Fetzer also won honors.
Individual citations went to: actors Gregory Musik, Shelley Reynolds and Christina Mastin; Derek Horton for his "Our Tow" musical score; Serge Gubleman for the design of "ma"; Tobin Alexandra-Young for her set for "Wild Goose Circuse"; Pedro Alexander's scenic design for "Survival of the Skittish"; and Pedro Alexander, Karen Aleta, Jon Milazzo and Gio Rita Vernon for costumes for One World's "Alice in Wonderland."
Stranger arts editor Matthew Richter, producer of the awards, said the first SPIT Awards bash was "a real blast" and he hopes to make the event an annual affair.
"The only thing I'd do differently next year," Richter noted, "is to have the ceremony in a bigger place."