So yeah, the Kilroys are hosting the Ovation Awards in Los Angeles on Monday.
When the director of the show invited us to participate, I don’t think it totally clicked we were being asked to do something BIG– like, more than just read winners off a card and do shots in the lobby.
But lemme tell you, it is NO JOKE. We gotta write a 30 page script, invite presenters, organize announcers, edit bios, do other stuff, and basically try not to bore the living crap out of 1600 theater people in tuxes and gowns.
What does it mean for an advocacy group to associate itself with an awards show? We are independent by choice, unbound by the constraints of a governing body or the interests of a funding source. But when our name gets stamped on a program, isn’t that an endorsement? What if we don’t agree with something on principle?
Like, say a theater nominated for Best Season produces a year of plays written exclusively by white men. If that theatre wins, we’re the ones waiting for them at the podium. Which is… awkward?
And what of the awards show itself? Can the Kilroys belt out a compelling choral rendition of “Everybody Says Don’t?” (Not currently.) Are the Kilroys known for telling irreverent yet tasteful jokes that poke fun at AND revel in life’s absurdities? (Not remotely.)
We drop lists. We give cakes. We publish books. We make noise. We advocate. And while it’s ballsy for the Powers That Be to give the mic to a gang o’gals with a reputation for stirring shit up, it’s friggin’ nuts when the gang en masse has zero experience entertaining large groups of people for multiple hours at a time. (It’s gonna be GREAT.)
Meanwhile. This event marks the evolution of the Kilroys. The 13 founding members will officially pass the torch to these 14 super badass killer queens. Which is suddenly and unexpectedly very emotional. (For me. Heh.)
We built this thing in 2014 out of frustration and desperation. It has been a refuge, a vessel to contain our energy and hope and anger. A place of recognition. But the work is grueling. Over the past five years we’ve acquired spouses, kids, careers. We’ve run TV shows. We’ve had theatre premieres. We need replacements so others can prioritize what we no longer can.
It was the right choice, no question. Except now I’m like, where will I dump all my spectacular feminine rage? I’m already a spin instructor for chrissakes…
The author in repose.
I suppose I can launch the occasional prickly missive here. But every time I post something that skews even lightly towards sermon, I hate myself. I’m uncomfortable with my own moralizing. I care too much what people think. I don’t know squat. But also, nothing ever happens. The chances of impact are like, microscopic.
At least with playwriting I have persuasive tools like character and story at my disposal, which makes it easier to assert a potentially challenging point of view. But even when my work is political and/or impactful, the act of making a play is mostly self-serving. The main beneficiary is me.
But with the Kilroys, it’s all action. Exhausting exhilarating obsessive righteous action. And while any impact we foster is a product of our own individual efforts, the beneficiary is Theatre. Women. Art. You. When it works, it’s thrilling beyond words. I’m gonna miss the heck out of it. But I’m stoked to cook up one last bash with these fierce new ‘Roys.
So… as we collectively struggle to find outfits for Monday that won’t cast us as victims of the patriarchy, here are the questions we ask ourselves:
1) What is a reasonable level of entertainment one can expect from a gang of grass-roots activists?
2) How does one perform one’s principles in formalwear?
3) Is it possible to publicly identify institutional bias without taking anything away from the institution at hand?
4) Can we shout-out the artists who aren’t being honored while lovingly celebrating the ones who are?
Guess we’ll find out next week…