As we wrap up our 10 year anniversary, we asked a few of our friends about their fondest memories of the Innovative Theatre Foundation and the IT Awards.
Jeff Riebe: I got wind of this emerging enterprise prior to it being launched. It instantaneously sparked my interest.
Blake Lawrence: My lovely, lovely friend Shay Gines invited me to join a group of fellow theater artists one weekend afternoon for a hardcore brainstorming session. From what I remember, it involved coffee, donuts and a big chalkboard where we kept throwing out adjectives to describe Off-Off-Broadway theater.
Daniel Talbott: I first heard about the IT Awards through the wonderful Jason Bowcutt and I was so excited to find out everything I could about them and to get involved as quickly as possible.
Ellen Reilly: I TELL THIS STORY ALL THE TIME... but I was sitting at a make-up mirror with Shay backstage at the black-and-white play "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... Murder!" And she swore me to secrecy saying, "I've got this idea for an awards program for Off-Off-Broadway..."
Desmond Dutcher: From my good friend, Shay Gines, who once told my boyfriend and me about 11 years ago that must host her for brunch on a Sunday so that she could tell us of her new idea for linking all of the hard-working artists of O-O-B'Way. The result was the Innovative Theatre Foundation and the rest is history.
Stephanie Cox-Williams: When it was first being conceived, I heard about it from my friends who went to a meeting regarding it's conception.
Jason Bowcutt: Well, my dear friend Shay asked me to meet up one day to discuss and idea she had......and you don't say no to Shay!
Kathleen Warnock: I think I first heard about them in about 2006…I remember I knew people who were nominated, and it struck me as the best thing ever! Then I think it was the year that Doric Wilson received the Artistic Achievement Award, and of course I never STOPPED hearing about it. I will take credit for suggesting that Mark Finley present the award in costume (ie drag)
Akia: I received an email from Shay inviting our theatre company to attend the launch event waay waay back in 2004(?), I signed up to volunteer. I helped with the box office and I remember carrying a lot of chairs down stairs at the end of the night with Hillary Cohen. I guess they were impressed with my chair carrying capabilities, because after that I got a call and invited to a meeting. From there they’ve been stuck with me.
Christopher Borg: When my best friends Shay Gines and Jason Bowcutt came to me in 1999 and told me that they wanted to start an award that would recognize indie theatre artists, I thought it sounded beautiful and noble and IMPOSSIBLE. How could they ever pull something off so ambitious and huge? But I could tell that they were serious. And knowing that they were people that knew how to get things done, I said that I would get on board and help out as much as I could. I have never regretted that decision.
Nick Micozzi: Shay called me one day in 1999 and said “I have an idea…” I had been working in OOB since 1995, and like Shay, had experienced the vast unconnected world of indie theatre and wanted to help bring it together. In early 1999, I had launched the first free OOB listings service, nyonstage.com, in an effort to help empower producers to use the web to spread the word about their shows, to give artists a place for their profiles, and to give the community at large a place to share about OOB. The idea of having Awards be a huge catalyst to actively bringing the community together, focusing attention on the great stuff being done OOB, and connecting with our theatrical roots, was pure genius. I was really excited, along with Jason Bowcutt, to work with Shay on making the idea a reality.
Technically, the first time I heard the name “IT Awards” (it rhymes with “hit”, not “high sea”) was when we came up with the name: we were in the midst of the numerous summits, panels, and meetings with the community we held. We were at the stage where we specifically needed to come up with the name for this thing we were building. It was 2002 in EAT’s space on 42nd St. We had bounced numerous ideas around, but Innovative Theatre, steering clear of a delineation or marginalization, and representing energy and entrepreneurism, was perfect.