Ken Schwartz and all involved in the Two Planks and a Passion Theatre troupe have to remind themselves to take a moment, pause, and celebrate their hard work.
And the eleven nominations they’ve just received for Theatre Nova Scotia’s Robert Merritt Awards are a good reminder to do just that.
Schwartz is a co-founder and the current artistic director at the theatre organization that is based at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning. The nominations are recognizing its two original adaptations, Animal Farm by Fire and North Mountain Vanya, along with the actors who performed them and the crew who produced them.
He says the organization’s cast and crew were thrilled to hear they were nominated for this year’s awards.
“Theatre as an artform is ephemeral – you produce and present it, and then it’s gone – so to have an opportunity to remind our audience of the hard work after it’s performed is a really wonderful thing,” he says.
Schwartz says these awards are special because of the peer-based judging system that sees fellow theatre association members travel the province while watching productions.
Whether 10 or 1,000 people come to see the production has no bearing: it really comes down to the quality of the play, and its production.
“It’s not a popularity contest, apart from it coming down to which plays the jury liked best. They measure it on which piece resonates most strongly with them. It’s a gesture that says, ‘we appreciate what you do,’ so it’s rewarding to know what we did resonated,” he says.
Schwartz says the nominations are a big deal for the organization, which has enjoyed a successful year both in terms of audience attendance and other feedback apart from the nominations.
Schwartz says the organization works with a sizeable budget and large number of actors and a long list of contributors and, as such, is able to make the resources available go a long way, with intricate sets and complicated costumes like those designed by Jennifer Goodman for North Mountain Vanya that received a nomination this year.
It’s an organization that’s built a steady following, yet Schwartz says such nominations remain important to further establish it, and expand the audience to include people who’ve never yet attended a show.
“These awards recognize that Nova Scotia theatre is doing interesting, valuable work that has a great impact,” he says.
Two Planks and a Passion Theatre has been nominated for the following Theatre Nova Scotia Robert Merritt Awards:
Outstanding Production, Animal Farm by Fire
Outstanding Direction, Ken Schwartz for Animal Farm by Fire
Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian, Allen Cole and Ken Schwartz for Animal Farm by Fire adaptation.
Outstanding Costume Design, Jennifer Goodman for North Mountain Vanya
Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor, Female, Burgandy Code, for portrayal of Snowball in Animal Farm
Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor, Female, Geneviève Steele for Moses/Muriel in Animal Farm
Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor, Female, Burgandy Code for Marine in North Mountain Vanya
Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor, Male, Ryan Rogerson for Old Major in Animal Farm
Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor, Male, Jeff Schwager for Napolean in Animal Farm
Outstanding Musical Direction, Allen Cole for Animal Farm
Outstanding Score, Allen Cole and Ken Schwartz for Animal Farm
The winners will be announced Mar. 25 at the Robert Merritt Awards gala.
(Source: Theatre Nova Scotia)