Hey there, Orgie girl!

Christopher Piatt, TimeOut Chicago

Two presentations at Chopin Theatre win 2007 ORGIES (The Orgies are an anonymously-bestowed honor for outstanding original work in Chicago Theater).

2006 - Brandon Bruce won Directing, Chopin production of TANGO

2005 - Zygmunt Dyrkacz won Producing, Teatr Cogitatur Aztec Hotel and La Luna

"I was still nursing my awards-season hangover this morning when I realized there was still one batch of undeclared February prizes lurking in the ether: the Orgies.

For the uninitiated: The Orgies are an anonymously-bestowed honor for outstanding original work in Chicago theater. The prize itself is a certificate and a crisp $100 bill. Ten of them are handed out each year, but the categories tend to vary. For example, no director received an Orgie this year, but the producing team at Strange Tree Group received props in a category mysteriously titled “Production Ambience.” (If you saw this trippy show, the party vibe of which defied description, you know it’s deserved. This Orgie could aptly be described as The You Had to Be There Award.)

Despite the transparent publicity-stunt nature of the Orgies, the anonymity of the Skull-and-Crossbones-like committee - composed of “theatre artists and patrons” - has been well preserved. The awards are announced via press release sent from a Yahoo account, and the recipients, unaware that they’ve even been considered, get their cash and certificate through the mail.

This is the third annual round of Orgies, and although I remember rolling my eyes the first time I heard about it, I can’t deny that the prize—which has an obnoxious, look-at-me name and a sensationalist attitude—also tends to have pretty good taste. As with any underground award, it’s intended to right the wrongs of the mainstream prize-giving culture (read: the Jeffs). And while there’s a little crossover this year (Courtney O’Neill’s set for MUD nabbed a Jeff Citation last spring, and Allen Gilmore was nominated for the Equity Award last fall), most of this year’s Orgie recipients didn’t exactly get their fine work seen by the masses.

So in many ways, the Orgie is like a poor man’s MacArthur “Genius” Grant. But for theater artists whose plays you aren’t guilted into liking.

Our congratulations are extended to this year’s Orgie recipients, as well as a question: Will you put this in your bio?
Here’s this year’s batch:
Amanda Dravecky, Sarah McMurray, Julian Pike, Emily Schwartz, and Max Wagner, Production Ambience for Mr. Spacky… The Man Who Was Continually Followed by Wolves - Strange Tree Group
Mikhail Fiksel, Sound Design/Original Composition for The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow – Collaboraction
Allen Gilmore, Acting in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone - Congo Square Theatre
Idris Goodwin, Playwriting, The Danger Face Trilogy - Hermit Arts
Mickle Maher, Playwriting, The Strangerer - Theater Oobleck
Mickle Maher, Guy Massey and Colm O’Reilly, Ensemble acting, The Strangerer - Theater Oobleck
Courtney O’Neill, Set Design for MUD - The Hypocrites
Beau O’Reilly, Producing, The Rhino Fest - Curious Theatre Branch
Joshua Schmidt & Jason Loewith, Music Composition/Libretto for The Adding Machine - Next Theatre
Guy Van Swearingen, Acting, Blasted - A Red Orchid Theatre

- by Christopher Piatt, TimeOut Chicago 2/28/08