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Theatre Night Awards recognizes excellence in the production of high school and middle school straight plays throughout New Jersey.
Our goal is to promote and advance the commitment to high quality straight play production in New Jersey’s secondary schools. The awards honor the accomplishments of individual achievement of both students and educators in the areas of performance, direction, design, and technical theatre, as well as outstanding productions in the following genres: Drama, Comedy, Classical, and New Work.
We endeavor to raise the bar in the area of straight play production in New Jersey schools. Theatre Night Awards has positively affected the level of directing, acting, design, and production work in straight plays. Educators are choosing from a wider and more sophisticated range of plays for production and are experimenting with updated methods and styles of staging plays.
By rewarding challenging choices in the production of new plays and classics, we have observed that more school theatre programs are producing Greek and Shakespeare plays, challenging works by such modern writers as Bertolt Brecht, Brian Friel, Arthur Miller, George S. Kaufman & Moss Hart, as well as new plays and original works.
Theatre Night Awards has been an increasingly significant and well-attended event each year since its inception in 2009. Theatre and Dance Department professor Susan Kerner and Mahwah High School teacher JoAnne Fox conceived the event to provide a balance for the popularity of the high school musical and its celebration at well-established awards ceremonies in New Jersey and the region.
The event is a positive educationally based community building experience. Students are able to share their work with other students and to be recognized outside their own high schools. This outside recognition has direct benefits for students and teachers in districts throughout the state. In a time when theatre arts programs are in peril this outside recognition helps maintain and even build quality high school theatre programs.
Theatre Night Awards Submission Guidelines:
Theatre Night Awards
Attn: Lana Abdo
Montclair State University
Theatre and Dance Department – Life Hall 050
Montclair, NJ 07043
New! YouTube Link Submission
Only YouTube submissions will be accepted.
The Evaluation Process
Over sixty middle schools and high schools participated in the 2015 Theatre Night Awards. They submitted DVDs of their plays produced in 2014 for evaluation by panels of Montclair State University graduate students, undergraduate theatre majors and professors as well as industry professionals. The nominees and recipients of the Theatre Night Awards are selected through a rigorous, multi-stage adjudication process.
The Jo Anne Fox Award
Mahwah High School theatre teacher JoAnne Fox, co-founder of Theatre Night Awards, passed away suddenly shortly after the 1st Theatre Night Awards in 2009 following a rehearsal at her school. The Jo Anne Fox Award has been given in her memory for the past 4 years to a theatre teacher who is an inspiration to his/her students, whose passion for theatre is infectious, and who creates a community, a loving extended family in his/her school in the process of producing high quality productions. The trophy received by all award winners was dubbed the Foxy in 2014 in honor of the late Jo Anne Fox. To nominate your beloved teacher for this event, please email Robin Irwin at email@example.com for more information.
Award nominations are posted in April, and teachers and students participate in preparing for the event by creating short videos, rehearsing selected moments for live presentation, and purchasing tickets. Over five hundred students, teachers, and family members attended the 7th annual Theatre Night Awards on May 11, 2015 in Memorial Auditorium on the Montclair State University campus.
Over the years the event has become increasingly student driven as well as influenced by the opportunities afforded by video technology. The event begins with a professionally produced video montage of exciting moments from all participating productions. Scattered throughout the evening short videos submitted by the teachers express the students’ meaningful personal and artistic growth through participation in their school productions. A highlight of the evening are collages of 90-second scenes chosen from productions identified as outstanding in several categories and rehearsed with Professor Susan Kerner on the day of the event. Backstage high school stage managers assist MSU student stage manager Nicole Mageros, herself a former high school participant.
Past presenters of the Theatre Night Awards have included stars of stage, screen and television. Award-winning author and theatre critic Peter Filichia served as the emcee of the 2014 Theatre Night Awards. MSU alums and working actors Bret Lada and Elizabeth Mackintosh presented awards to students and educators along with Broadway stars Michael Cerveris and Brian D’Arcy James who presented awards to outstanding actors on video. A former high school Theatre Night Awards winner, now a professional pianist, provided piano accompaniment.
There is a significant ripple effect that results from Theatre Night Awards. In addition to many individuals receiving well-deserved recognition for their commitment to excellence in play production, state legislators and district administrators take notice of the achievements of the talented students and educators in their communities and further appreciate the importance of supporting arts programming.
By sharing their work with peers throughout the state, students and teachers have the opportunity to observe and learn from the high standards, extraordinary creativity and risk taking artistic choices made by outstanding theatre educators and their students.
Teachers participate in a valuable educational network that has developed as a result of MSU’s professional development programs. Teachers and students are introduced to the excellent opportunities in the BA, BFA, and MA programs in the Theatre and Dance Department at Montclair State University. When theatre students arrive as freshmen or as graduate students at MSU, they encounter professors who are already familiar with their considerable achievements as theatre artists in their secondary school communities.
Have you been nominated for an Award?
If so, you are invited to:
MSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance Presents:
The 8th Annual Theatre Night Awards
Monday, May 16, 2016 at 7:00pm
Please use the link below to purchase your tickets for the 8th Annual Theatre Night Awards. All tickets are general admission. Seating is reserved on a first come, first serve basis the night of the event.