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Washington-area community theater groups next month might have a better idea of when they can expect criticism of a regional awards program to return to audiences.
The board of directors of the nonprofit Washington Area Theater Community Honors (WATCH) program is due to meet on January 16 and has already announced that it plans to resume auctioning of theatrical productions in the new year. “We are delighted that our judges are back to doing what they love – watching local theater with a critical eye,” said TJ Lukacsina, who chairs the WATCH board.
A number of community theater organizations have resumed productions; Dominion Stage, which performs in Arlington, already has two fall shows under its belt. More troupes are expected to step up production in the coming months.
The first WATCH prizes were awarded in 2001, representing shows judged the previous year. The most recent awards were given “virtually” in April 2020 for the calendar year 2019; no awards were given for the three-month period in 2020 leading up to the local theater being closed by COVID.
In 2019, 28 theater companies from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia competed for awards, with a total of 101 productions (61 plays, 40 musicals) evaluated by the judges. Silver Spring Stage and Reston Community players tied for most statuettes, each winning 25 awards.
The WATCH Awards are the community theater equivalent of the Helen Hayes Awards, a competition between professional theater organizations in the DC area.
The 36th annual Helen Hayes Awards were presented in September 2020 in an online format, praising work judged before the pandemic.