The Testament of Heather (on One-Person-Shows)
I’m going to be honest… Before I moved to New York I had never watched the Tony Awards. I never cared or understood the culture behind it because I simply wasn’t experiencing it. Well, now that I am here “experiencing it” I will say that the Tony’s mean a little more to me than they did a year ago.
Thanks to my friend Lys, I’ve been seeing a lot of Broadway shows recently. She’s the kind of person that just texts “Hey I’m rushing this show, come with me,” and I have no choice but to say yes [not that I would EVER say no to seeing a Broadway show… that is unless I’m broke or we have to stand in line to see Pippin from 7am-noon on a Saturday… but that’s another story]!
Recently we’ve seen some amazing stuff including a show by one of my favorites, Christopher Durang, called Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike! A hilarious farcical comedy mixing sibling rivalry with young love and Chekov! I loved it, and I love Durang.
The show was nominated for 6 Tony awards; Best Play, David Hyde Pierce for Best Leading Actor in a Play, Kristine Nielsen for Best Leading Actress in a Play, Billy Magnussen for Actor in a Featured Role, Shalita Grant for Actress in a Featured Role, and Nicholas Martin for Best Direction of a Play! Winning the award for Best Play!
We have also seen two OUTSTANDING one-person-shows. The first was The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín starring Fiona Shaw (Yes, that’s Aunt Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter films!!). The show was absolutely thrilling and took my mind places it had never gone before. Ms. Shaw opened the show in a glass box on the stage and as audience members entered they were able to go up and take photographs of her. In this glass case she depicted our traditional view of “The Virgin Mary:” Mary in blue robes, holding baby Jesus. The entire following play then broke down this image and showed us the woman who lost her son, her only baby boy, to religion. Although the play was not entirely Biblically accurate, it was still a captivating and beautiful story and Ms. Shaw executed it with outstanding talent.
The show was nominated for a mere 3 Tony Awards: Best Play, Lighting Design, and Sound Design. Barely recognizing Ms. Shaw and the Director for all of their hard work. Fiona Shaw was gypped of recognition- and the audience knew it. The night Lys and I saw the performance was just a few nights after the Tony Nominations were announced but was also just after they announced the show was closing. When Fiona Shaw came to take her bow the audience immediately stood, applauding long and loud and proud, so long that Fiona had to come back to bow 3 more times! She had this amazing grateful look on her face – to me it said “this is why I do theatre, not to get Tony nominations, but to move people.” And it was obvious she had moved all of us.
The second One-person-show was an adapted version of The Scottish Play (Macbeth) by William Shakespeare starring Alan Cumming! The approach to this show was fascinating, taking place in a psychiatric ward where Macbeth is playing all of the characters. There are two other doctor characters that come in and out and oversee, but say maybe one or two lines in the whole show. It helped being familiar with the play – I was able to follow the original plot line in my head for the most part. I also think this show was meant to stay separate though. It didn’t matter if that was Lady Mac’s monologue because now it’s being spoken by a madman in a mental institution which makes it so different – so much more intense. This role had to be such hard work with all of the text analysis that goes into Shakespeare, combining all the characters into one – and Alan was just outstanding. He gripped me tight in my seat at the start of the show and did not let go until is final breath at the end. Although the show was recognized winning 4 BroadwayWorld.com awards, the show had zero Tony Nominations.
Lastly, another one-person show with no Tony recognition at all is I’ll Eat You Last by John Logan starring Bette Midler. I haven’t seen this show so I can’t speak for it at all, but I simply can’t believe that these one-person shows are hardly getting recognition.
I simply think that these actors are being snubbed for their hard work, and although I am new to the “Tony Award Culture” I am definitely seeing one-person shows getting the short end of the stick.
Here is a quote from Entertainment Weekly that basically sums up how I feel:
“But the Tonys continued its tradition as the anti-Golden Globes, snubbing several A-listers who’ve appeared on Broadway this season. Bette Midler and Alan Cumming both earned mostly raves for their newly opened one-person shows (I’ll Eat You Last and Macbeth, respectively) but were absent from the Tony roster — in fact, their shows earned no nominations at all. […] Another oddity: Though The Testament of Mary earned one of the four slots for Best Play, the provocative one-woman show’s star, Harry Potter alum Fiona Shaw, wasn’t picked as one of the five Best Actress in a Play contenders.”
[Full Article by by Thom Geier Here]