Annie Baker wins big at Obie Awards

Off Broadway kudos handed out Monday night

Rising scribe Annie Baker and her two plays from the 2009-10 season were recurring themes at the 55th annual Obie Awards, the Off Broadway kudos handed out Monday night.

Baker scored the award for new American play for a pair of works: “Circle Mirror Transformation,” which had a successful run at Playwrights Horizons earlier this season, and “The Aliens,” now running at Rattlestick. Laurel comes with a cash prize of $1,000.

The “Circle Mirror” ensemble went home with a joint acting award, and Sam Gold, helmer of both “Circle Mirror” and “Aliens,” nabbed a directing kudo.

With no strict nominee slots or categories to fill (and no nominees ever announced), the Obies this year also doled out honors to “A Lie of the Mind” co-star Laurie Metcalf, “Coraline” composer Stephin Merritt, Irish playwright Enda Walsh and Taylor Mac’s ambitious marathon “The Lily’s Revenge,” among other recipients.

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Writer-performer David Greenspan, the downtown stalwart who wrote and starred in “Coraline,” took home an award for sustained achievement. Wendell Pierce, star of the HBO skein “Treme,” snagged an award for sustained excellence of performance. Thesp recently starred in “Broke-ology” at Lincoln Center Theater.

Another $1,000 cash prize, the Ross Wetzsteon Award, went to the Foundry Theater, which has been producing Off Broadway since 1994. Obie grants went to the Harlem School of the Arts, Ontological Incubator — the emerging-artist development arm of the long-standing Ontological-Hysteric — and troupe Vampire Cowboys.

A far less formal event than many legit kudo-thons, the awards ceremony was hosted by Anika Noni Rose and Michael Cerveris at Webster Hall. Evening’s entertainment included a performance by the cast and musicians of “Fela!,” the Tony-nommed Broadway tuner that picked up an Obie last year for its original Off Broadway staging.

Judges this year included Martha Plimpton, HERE Arts Center a.d. Kristin Marting, Ma-Yi Theater a.d. Ralph B. Pena and journos Michael Feingold, Alexis Soloski and Andy Propst.


David Greenspan

Annie Baker, “Circle Mirror Transformation” and “The Aliens

Ensemble, “Circle Mirror Transformation” (Playwrights Horizons)
(Reed Birney, Tracee Chimo, Peter Friedman, Deirdre O’Connell, Heidi Schreck)
Dane DeHaan, “The Aliens” (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater)
Jonathan Hammond, “The Boys In The Band” (Transport Group)
Marc Damon Johnson, “The Brother/Sister Plays” (Public Theater)
Laurie Metcalf, “A Lie Of The Mind” (The New Group)
Wendell Pierce, sustained excellence of performance
Juliet Rylance, “As You Like It” (Bridge Project/BAM)
Rocco Sisto, sustained excellence of performance

Enda Walsh, “The New Electric Ballroom” (Druid Theatre / St. Ann’s Warehouse)

Sam Gold, “Circle Mirror Transformation” (Playwrights Horizons) and “The Aliens” (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater)
Pam Mackinnon, “Clybourne Park” (Playwrights Horizons)

Steven Dufala and Billy Blaise Dufala (machine design), “Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines” (rainpan 43 / HERE Arts Center)
Stephin Merritt (music & lyrics), “Coraline” (MCC Theater)
Tyler Micoleau, sustained excellence of lighting design
Neil Murray (sets and costumes), Malcolm Rippeth (lighting), Gemma Carrington and Jon Driscoll (projection design), “Brief Encounter” (Kneehigh Theatre / St. Ann’s Warehouse)

Ariane Mnouchkine & Théâtre du Soleil, “Les Éphémères” (Lincoln Center Festival)
Taylor Mac, “The Lily’s Revenge” (HERE Arts Center)
The Ohio Theatre
Hoi Polloi and Rachel Chavkin, “Three Pianos” (Hoi Polloi: Alec Duffy, Dave Malloy, and Rick Burkhardt) (Ontological)
Philippe Quesne and Gaëtan Vourc’h, L’Effet De Serge (Vivarium Studio / Under the Radar)
Chris Wells, “Secret City”

Foundry Theatre

Harlem School of the Arts
Ontological Incubator
Vampire Cowboys

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