This is an update to a post from last month One Step Forward, and…. In that post I noted my excitement about the Olivier nominations for best director. Three of the four nominees were women, a watershed moment in the history of the award. The ceremony happened earlier today, Sunday, April 13. I am happy to share the news that Lyndsey Turner won best director for Chimerica. You can find the full list of winners here.
I think it is also important to include the big winner of the night–an award so prestigious that it has a sponsor. The MasterCard Best New Musical went to The Book of Mormon. Given the play’s success at the Tonys this is not too much of a surprise. However, The Guardian’s reflection on the event has caused me to think about how awards like the Olivier reflect the quality/value, or lack there of, of a specific show or artist. The Book of Mormon has been very successful, both in the US and the UK,and knowing it is from the creators of South Park makes the play intriguing to me. But The Guardian has made me aware of a play that may be more deserving of the investment of my time.
But I am saddened to see, in the best musical category, the Young Vic’s The Scottsboro Boys coming away empty-handed while The Book of Mormon walks off with a stash of prizes: a direct repeat of what happened at the New York Tonys. Mormon, while being fashionably tasteless, ended up endorsing the status quo. The Scottsboro Boys seriously questioned it. By using a minstrel show to expose a case of racist bigotry in 1931 Alabama, it not only set up a brilliant contrast between form and content but asked us how much had really changed. It didn’t deny the possibility of progress. It just asked how far America had travelled in the past 80 years.
I feel like The Scottsboro Boys falls directly in line with the texts we are exploring in Contemporary Drama, and challenges the normative lens. I look forward to learning more about the show.