No envy, please, if I break ranks and out myself as the proud winner of a TMA trophy.
Theatre Awards UK nominees, relax; your own chances of success are unaffected because this one isn’t in any of the 2012 categories.
My gong (a large silver cup, no less) came at a previous event many years ago, courtesy of Bill Freedman, then co-owner with Stephen Waley-Cohen of the West End’s second largest theatre chain, Maybox. As its title – “The Precision Cup for Upholding the Standards of William Randolph Hearst in Accurate and Truthful Journalism” – suggests, the compliment was a tad double-edged, a good-humoured response to a spate of news stories about the company. To this day Bill’s award retains a place of dubious honour in my home.
I doubt that achievement puts me in a great position to advise anyone with an eye to winning more sought-after theatre accolades.Yet, like anyone who’s been in situ long enough, I have been drafted on to the odd panel, both journalistic (Regional Press Awards, Society of Women Writers and Journalists) and showbiz-related (Sylvia Young Scholarships, The Stage’s own and indeed past TMA awards).
Promiscuity may be a lifestyle choice but it’s a cardinal sin when applied to letter fonts.
That provides insight of sorts into a particular part of the process, namely, the stage when the wheat has been sorted from the chaff. At this point a judge’s challenge isn’t finding sufficient good nominations but negatives that enable them to dispense with several deserving candidates to arrive at a winner.
It’s here that words speak at least as loud as actions. All other elements being equal, the ability to articulate your nominee’s bid verbally or in writing can be a decider. Getting the right tone when it’s a written bid is hardest. When you’re there in person you have a chance to gauge reactions and adapt your case. On paper or email, it’s game over once you send.
So, here are some simple tips for written nominations that can’t guarantee a win but might help avoid snatching defeat from the mouth of victory.
Make it easy on the eye and remain faithful
Keep it short – or rather, cut it down. You have one opportunity to hit the right pile. Your judges have as many chances of rejecting you as they have other entrants. So aim for impact.
Promiscuity may be a lifestyle choice but it’s a cardinal sin when applied to letter fonts. Choose one and remain faithful to it till the last line of your nomination. Consistency enahances clarity.
Keep it contemporary
Most awards measure achievement in the last 12 months. If your best work occurred in the period before, you’ve missed the boat. Ask yourself: why now. Why this year?
A job description/mission statement is not an achievement
Remind yourself of this over and over and over again.
What’s your USP?
Put another company or theatre’s name in place of yours. Does everything you’ve written apply equally well to them? If your answer is “Yes”, then it’s back to the drawing board.
Hard statistics trump flabby prose…
We live in a data-obsessed age. Creative categories aside, people won’t argue with a case that’s built on numbers.
…but they need to make sense
Growing your teen audience by 20% sounds like something to be proud of. Less so if you only had five kids to begin with.
Whether it’s best director or best marketing award, chances are you will be competing against rivals better known in that field. Think of the Lyric Belfast, last year’s unexpected Theatre Awards UK winner in the cultural diversity category. Substance combined with an element of the unexpected and a well-argued case can overcome such hurdles.
Go back and edit it again
Something, somewhere doesn’t make sense. Print it out (yes, print it) and give it to someone else equipped with a fresh pair of eyes and a red pen.
And only when they’re done should you lick that stamp or press ‘Send’.