Arts & Culture

Brown theater productions win big at the Dorrys

U. productions nominated for seven, win three awards at first Law and Order Party Awards

Contributing Writer
Thursday, October 20, 2016

At the first annual Law and Order Party Awards, the Dorrys, various Brown-affiliated productions were nominated for seven awards, winning three.

The first annual Law and Order Party Awards, the Dorrys, were held Sept. 27 at Aurora Providence. Members of the theatre arts and performance studies department and various Brown-affiliated productions were nominated for seven awards and won three.

The Dorrys are a celebration of the best arts and culture across Rhode Island. The name comes from Rhode Island’s own history — Thomas Wilson Dorr was a Rhode Island governor in the 1840s who attempted to expand voting rights and was convicted of treason. The awards span a range of categories, including art, books, drama, film and music.

“There are truly world-class artists, musicians, writers and performers who live and work in Rhode Island, and the event is really a celebration of that,” said Matthew Lawrence, editor for the Law and Order Party, the Rhode Island newsletter that hosted the awards. Every week, the Law and Order Party is sent out to around 2,000 people with a list of seven things to do in Rhode Island —  one for each day of the week. These activities typically include various cultural engagements, such as art exhibits, concerts and readings.

In choosing nominees, Lawrence first put out a general call for nominations before narrowing the nominees down himself through personal judgement, word of mouth and others’ reviews. He then opened up the final voting for award winners to the public.

The Brown University 2015-16 performance season, which was noted at the Dorrys for having all female directors, earned the department much acclaim. “The Red Paint,” by Nikteha Salazar ’16, received the award for Play of the Year. This one-act piece tells the story of a Chicano woman who, through attempting to understand her own father and history, learns about breaking cycles of violence.

“The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry,” by Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Marcus Gardley, picked up the Production of the Year award, and Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Kym Moore also won the award for Director of the Year for the same production. The “myth based on historical events” follows a “community of self-proclaimed black Native American freedmen” as they explore their own faith and identity through the challenges introduced by a dried up water well, according to a press release.

“I could not have predicted a win, particularly due to the challenging content and structure of the play,” Moore said. “I was totally blown away.” She noted that the designers in particular made a significant impact on the production, working together to create dynamic and haunting effects.

Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Erik Ehn was also recognized at the Dorrys for his production, “Island of Love,” which took home the award for Drama Curveball of the Year.

Other Brown nominees included Crystal Kim ’16 for Performance of the Year for “The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry,” “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play” and “The Love of the Nightingale” for Production Team of the Year and Diane Exavier GS, who is set to earn an MFA in 2017, for Play of the Year for “A Big House.”

Exavier, who had already been subscribed to the Law and Order Party, was touched by the nomination. “‘A Big House’ is a play that means a lot to me, so I was really grateful and honored that people who saw it went ahead and nominated it for the Dorrys,” she said.

Both Exavier and Lawrence were surprised by the number of Brown productions that were nominated, as they both thought students were largely unaware of the Law and Order Party newsletter itself, even though Brown’s arts events are often featured in it.

“The school is relatively big and can afford to bring in artists and performers that other places in the state could never draw,” Lawrence said. While other Rhode Island universities like Providence College, Rhode Island College and Rhode Island School of Design were nominated for awards in performing arts or visual art, Brown swept the stage in the theater categories.

“It’s a great sign that the Providence arts scene and art happenings at Brown don’t exist in completely different universes,” Exavier said.