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Chapman Tripps '12

Phil Grieve posted 20 Nov 2012, 10:31 AM

I guess John has already prefaced this discussion by indicating publically the vagueries of the system but - seriously? In a category celebrating the peak of achievement in acting in Wellington from which 7 actors are picked to represent both genders - surely the mix should be more even? 5 men and only 2 women? I think there should be a mandatory 3-4 ratio regardless of the balance of good roles or excellent delivery. Anyone else feel this way?

martyn roberts posted 20 Nov 2012, 01:19 PM

I think in the past somewhere the actors and actresses got a bit upset that some of them had to 'lose' when there was the 3 x nominations per category system (best actor, best actress etc). This was watered down to the current 4 x award categories and 7 x nominations thingy where it gets a bit muddy as to what is an 'outstanding perfomance'...perhaps it is time to go back to the 3 x nominations per category? Best Actor, Best Actress, Outstanding performance and a good cup of Harden Up? Hey congratulations to all the nominees and Wellington players and crews anyhow. Have yourself a grand party!!

Phil Grieve posted 20 Nov 2012, 01:40 PM / edited 20 Nov 2012, 01:52 PM

Totally agree Marty - congrats to all nominees (it's always been a bit of a lolly scramble among those deserving anyway). I don't mind the current system of a pool of seven for the top acting awards - just needs to have a better mix of gender. You can't tell me there isn't a woman from Wellington who doesn't deserve a nod (without diverting the issue onto another matter - both Yvette and Elena are well deserving of their nominations - I just would have preferred at least another woman in the mix regardless of where she calls home).

Michael Wray posted 20 Nov 2012, 02:45 PM

If it helps, I can say this is the 13th year of the current approach for this category (7 nominations for 4 performance awards) and in that time the split occurrences for nominees have been:

5-2 in favour of the men: 5 years

5-2 in favour of the women: 1 year

4-3 in favour of the men: 4 years

4-3 in favour of the women: 3 years

Phil Grieve posted 20 Nov 2012, 04:10 PM

I think this totally backs my argument, Michael. Only in 4 of 13 years have women been in the majority and only once has the balance been 5-2 in their favour??? Come on critics!

John Smythe posted 20 Nov 2012, 05:09 PM / edited 20 Nov 2012, 05:20 PM

Currently there are 8 acting awards, of which 6 are gender-specified: Most Promising Female/Male Newcomer of the Year; Supporting Actress/Actor and Actress/Actor of the Year.

For as long as I have been involved (since 1999), the nominees for the latter two and the Outstanding Actress/Actor awards have arisen from a single non gender-biased list of nominees, although the top two are Actress and Actor of the Year.

Last century there were 10 nominations from which those four awards were made. Since 2000 just seven have been nominated (presumably because of the cost of giving free tickets to all nominees – which may be less of an issue now).

Every year it is a challenge to determine who the Newcomers are and, even more so, differentiate Supporting Roles from other roles. The remaining 4 awards are open to anyone who has acted any kind of role in any qualifying production. The gender breakdowns for the past 15 years have been:
2012 (5m, 2f)
2011 (4m, 3f)
2010 (5m, 2f)
2009 (3m, 4f)
2008 (5m, 2f)
2007 (3m, 4f)
2006 (4m, 3f)
2005 (5m, 2f)
2004 (4m, 3f)
2003 (4m, 3f)
2002 (3m, 4f)
2001 (5m, 2f)
2000 (2m, 5f)
1999 (4m, 6f)
1998 (4m, 6f)
       60m, 51f

There's an assignment for someone: analyse that lot in terms of the overall number of m/f roles in the 100-odd eligible productions per year, and the leading /supporting status of each role by gender. Is there an imbalance, and at what level, that is reflected in the above statistics - or can the bias be sheeted home to the voting panel?

Personally I think it would fry my brain even more than the current system does, to separate Actress/Actor of the Year nominees from Outstanding Actress/Actor nominees. Where would we draw that line? And how would that be more fair? Presumably those who won an Outstanding award could be perceived as less worthy that those who were nominated for Actress/Actor of the Year but didn't win.

This year, as ever, all the acting categories – and many of the others – could have been nominated three times over without, I believe, causing a single raised eyebrow, so I feel the usual pain for those who were so well thought of by us all yet missed the cut. But of course professionals audition and pitch for work all the time and often miss out without that necessarily meaning anything bad about their talent and skills. That's how it is in this profession and we all learn to deal with it.

What is exercising my mind more this year is the question of whether we could have a separate award for Solo performance. This year 2 of the 6 Newcomer nominations are for Solos, (obviously this could never apply to supporting roles), and 3 of the remaining 7 actor nominations are for Solo shows. The 2011 and 2010 Actor of the Year awards were for Solo shows and the year before the Actress of the Year was also a Solo performer. Is this a different skill set that should have its own award? Is there a danger that working well with others is being over-shadowed?   

At the other end of the spectrum there have been entire casts whose ensemble work has been superb, from which it would feel quite inappropriate to pluck individuals for nomination, so a good argument could be mounted for having and Ensemble of the Year award.

The issues that arise when more awards are added include: can we be sure there will be enough contenders every year to create a competition; who will step up to sponsor the new awards; can the budget handle the extra comps (especially if 3 ensemble companies are added); it would add to the length of the Awards show … 

Phil Grieve posted 20 Nov 2012, 05:50 PM

Interesting thoughts, John. I personally like the idea of an Ensemble award - perhaps purely as an honorific? As far as the original topic goes - I'm simply asking that that catagory have a mandatory 3-4 split. Is that too hard? If, as you suggest, actors are used to disappointment, then surely skipping over the fifth, sixth or seventh man (in this case) or woman in order to arrive at a 3-4 split will go unnoticed and leave the team choosing them with a more ironclad platform on which to stand. (Please forgive the choice of words - the intention is the more important consideration)

John Smythe posted 20 Nov 2012, 07:31 PM / edited 23 Nov 2012, 09:37 AM

So – just for the sake of argument – should we also concern ourselves with gender balance in the designer, playwright, composer and director categories?  If not, then why do so with these actor categories?

We will certainly discuss this in the ‘post mortem' meeting next year so now is the time for anyone with thoughts, questions or answers to put them out here.