The Austin Critics Table Awards ceremony was long. Very long. A record four hours at Cap City Comedy Club.
Yet the 25th anniversary celebration of all things arts might have been the best one ever. Because every minute was a warm, loving, slightly boozy embrace between artists and the writers who cover them.
I loved every tribute from the critics and (almost) every enthusiastic and authentic acceptance speech. (Why do some people choose a moment of honor to be mean?) Bonus: a witty proclamation from Austin Mayor Steve Adler for the occasion
Some people — well, a lot of people — left early. But then they missed the best acceptance speech of the evening, given by Christine Hoang, who shared the David Mark Cohen New Play Award with Lisa Thompson, and who talked about how each word from her reviews reduced her “imposter anxiety,” and whose bilingual play, “A Girl Named Sue,” represented a social and cultural leap for the descendants of Vietnamese refugees and their families.
The big news, however, was the expansion of the Critics Table to 20 members including web-based writers, a move I’ve strongly supported for years. The Table began with just five of us newspapermen, sole survivor Robert Faires reminded us — I no longer vote — and over the years has included more than 50 writers.
AUSTIN CRITCS TABLE AWARDS 2016-2017
W.H. “Deacon” Crain Award for Student Work: Madison Williams, Emily Ott
Lighting Design: Jason Amato (“Atlantis: A Puppet Opera”), Patrick Anthony (“A Perfect Robot,” “Old Times”)
Group Gallery Exhibition: “The First Horizons of Juno: Christina Coleman, Jane Hugentober, Candice Lin, Karen Lofgren, Christine Rebet, Alice Wang and Chantal Wnuk,” Mass Gallery
Museum Exhibition: “Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser,” Blanton Museum of Art
Singer: Donnie Ray Albert (“The Manchurian Candidate,” “I Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes”), Liz Cass (“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance”), David Adam Moore (“The Manchurian Candidate”), Paul Sanchez (“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance,” “A Christmas Carol”)
Chamber Performance: “I, Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes,” Living Paper Song Project
Original Composition/Score: “Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance,” Graham Reynolds & Lagartijas Tirades al Sol
Scenic Design: Chris Conard (“Totalitarians,” “The Drowning Girls”), Desiderio Roybal (“Clybourn Park,” “The Price,” “The Herd”)
Short Work, Dance: “Camille: A Story of Art and Love,” Jennifer Hart
Solo Gallery Exhibition: “Tammie Rubin: Before I Knew You, I Missed You,” De Stijl Podium for Art
Artist: Deborah Roberts
Costume Design: Susan Branch Towne (“One Man, Two Guv’nors,” “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”)
Dancer: Alexa Caparedo (“Tikling(bird),” “Loose Gravel”), Amy Morrow (“Hiraeth,” “We’ve Been Here Before”)
Ensemble Dance: Dance Repertory Theatre (“Momentum”)
Gallery, Body of Work: “Museum of Human Achievement”
Independent Project: “Workout with Erica Nix,” Erica Nix
Ensemble, Classical: Schumann Chamber Players
Classical Concert/Opera: “The Manchurian Candidate,” Austin Opera
Sound Design: Lowell Bartholomee, “Clybourne Park,” “Fahrenheit 451”
Direction: Jenny Lavery (“The Drowning Girls”), Lily Wolff (“Lungs”)
Dance Concert: “Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees,” Sharon Marroquin, produced by Latino Art Residency Project, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
Choreographer: Lisa Nicks, “Dear Johnny, in Response to Your Last Letter”
Digital Design: Greg Emetaz, “The Manchurian Candidate”
David Mark Cohen New Play Award: “A Girl Named Sue” (Christine Hoang), “Underground” (Lisa Thompson)
Ensemble, Theater: “Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe,” Doctuh Mistah Productions
Actor: Liz Beckham (“Lungs,” Neva,” “Clybourne Park), Chase Brewer (“Hand to God”), Michael Joplin (“Lungs”), Amber Quick (“One Man, Two Guv’nors,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Herd”)
Production, Theater: Clybourne Park (Penfold Theatre), “The Drowning Girls” (Theatre en Bloc), “The Great Society (Zach Theatre)
Special Citations: Luis Armando Ortiz Gutierrez, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Andrea Ariel, Babs George, “Rambunctious,” Jennifer Sherburn for “11:11,” Theatre Synesthesia, Sandy Yamamoto, “Thr3e Zisters,” Amy Downing.
Austin Arts Hall of Fame: Katherine Brimberry and Mark L. Smith, Zell Miller III, Kate Warren
UPDATE: Thanks to Robert Faires for correcting some embarrassing typos in names banged out quickly this morning.