Friday, January 2, 2015

The Last Straw Award 2014

By Joe Straw

Some of these productions were not supposed to be that good, the actors were unknown, the talent in the small houses are suspect, and the stages were small and run down.

And I keep hearing this time and time again.  “Hardly anyone goes to theatre these days.”

Well, you can believe that if you want, but for the most part the houses were full, the audiences receptive, and audiences come away from the production with a great sense of satisfaction.

You can believe anything anyone wants to tell you.  But, that is my not my impression of what's going on in theatre today.

This is what I experience when the lights go down. 

My interest lies in an emotion, an aesthetic impression from an actor that projects a life,  giving as much as a audacious gestures to an unfathomable silent glance.  It matters little as long as it is an emotional outpouring created from the bottom of the soul. Take me to the place that means so much, in little time, and lift me.  Send me out of the theatre soaring.   

These are my picks of outstanding performers, writers, and directors that I have seen this year. Congratulations!

Michael Dempsey – RX by Kate Fodor – at The Lost Studios

Darrett Sanders, Christian Levatino – Sunny Afternoon by Christian Levatino at Theatre Asylum

Ricco Ross, Shawn Savage – The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez at The Pico Playhouse

Robert Craighead – Inherit The Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee at The Grove Theatre Center

Ashlee Olivia – Knock Me A Kiss by Charles Smith at The Robey Theatre Company

Chris L. McKenna, Benjamin Brand – Taste by Benjamin Brand at The Sacred Fools Theater Company

Lucy Rodriguez – Premeditation by Evelina Fernández at The Los Angeles Theatre Center

Bill Charlton, Burl Moseley – The Memorandum by Václav Havel – Santa Monica Rep

Julio Hildago – Enrique VIII de William Shakespeare – The Broad Stage

Peter James Smith, Peter Larney, John Dennis Johnston, and Katherine Cortez – Land Line by Stephen Dierkes at The Ensemble Studio Theatre

JoDyRaY, KT Thangavelu, Amelia Yokel – Bliss Point by Shishir Kurup at The Odyssey Theatre

Jeremy Crutchley – Sacred Elephant by Heathcote Williams – The Odyssey Theatre

Ted Barton – Andronicus by William Shakespeare – Coeurage Theatre Company

Paul Witten, Ann Nobel – The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee at Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center

Rhonda Lord – Affluence by Steven Peterson at Theatre 40

Tanna Frederick, Mike Falkow, and Kelly DeSarla – Train to Zakopané a True Story of Hate and Love by Henry Jaglom

Ashlee Olivia, Dwain A. Perry, and Jason Mimms – The Magnificent Dunbar Hotel by Levy Lee Simon

And I almost forgot Sirena Irwin and Maile Flanagan - Bob's Holiday Christmas Party by Joe Keys and Rob Elk.  I never laughed so hard! 

The "Ortiz" award for outstanding theatrical achievement this year goes to "Premeditation” by Evelina Fernandez and directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela. 

This award represents a grand achievement for diversity in a theatrical production.  It is something I worked for as the SAG Hollywood President of the EEOC and continues today through this blog.

Evelina Fernández
Sal Lopez
Geoffrey Rivas
Lucy Rodriguez

Outstanding Achievement in Direction:

Howard Teichman – The Whipping Man
Christian Levatino – Sunny Afternoon
Stuart Gordon – Taste
Jen Bloom – The Memorandum
Jose Luis Valenzuela – Premeditation

Outstanding Achievement – Writing:

Christian Levatino – Sunny Afternoon
Evelina Fernandez – Premeditation
Henry Jaglom – Train to Zakopané
Levy Lee Simon – The Magnificent Dunbar Hotel

Thank you Los Angeles Theatre and congratulations to all of those who have received The Last Straw Award 2014.


  1. Thank you so much, Joe, for including me and my work in AFFLUENCE at Theatre 40 in your picks. It means very much to me.
    Rhonda Lord