Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Critical condition

What a roll-up. Guests and nominees for the Critics Circle Awards night were rolling up 40 minutes before the invitation hour - which caught us somewhat on the hop setting things up in the Bakehouse Theatre. First to arrive was a theatre director and hot on her heels, our Lifetime Achiever, an octogenarian Czech former ballerina. And then in they swarmed, waiting at the bar before the wine was even opened. And they swilled down the fine Coriole wines and sucked down the Coopers beers and they nibbled and chomped on the food - by the end of the evening polishing off all the wine and all the food, leaving only some of the beer with which to "pay" the volunteer bar staff and glass-washers. But it was one helluva good party - and people lingered on to the last. Winners, of course, swanned out on clouds with trophies and cheques in hand, beaming from ear to ear. And once again we, the critics, had the satisfaction of rewarding the best of the best - not only with the material goods but with the kudos which forever after they may put as a major credit achieved. "Award-winning" is a nice way to prefix one's name.
It was a terrific crowd - a delight to address. So responsive. It made it easy for all of us who had to speak - and we were many. I MCed and assorted critics made the announcements of winners, speaking on their merits as they did so. Our VIP politician, John Hill, known under the silly title as "Minister Assisting the Premier in the Arts" (we all believe he should be given the title of arts minister since he is beloved in the arts and the premier perhaps less so) was witty and wonderful.
And the audience, in the air-conditioned theatre, was able to sit comfortably, drinks in hand, throughout the speaking and award-giving. Our sponsor for the Coopers awards for amateur theatre, Glenn Cooper, rolled up in the nick of time and in the sweetest of good humor. He has no aptitude for any of the arts, said he, but he supports the awards because he loves the arts and most particularly the people involved in them. It was heartfelt - and we all purred with pleasure.
Our Arts Department friends were there, of course. For it is they who liaise the serious money for the major professional awards. And they seemed warm and happy with the event, too. Indeed, everyone seemed radiantly happy. And - after a frenetic day of getting the event together, I retire to bed absolutely and utterly exhausted - but pleased as punch that another year's awards are successfully under the belt.

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