Animals and Plants Snub Leads to Carbonell Reforms

The Carbonell nominations for the best theater of 2007 will be announced today. As we reported earlier this week (“Carbonell Committee Leaves Animals and Plants to Molt”), Mad Cat Theatre’s much praised Animals and Plants will not be among the nominees.

According to an email exchange circulated by Mad Cat artistic director Paul Tei, the play’s ineligibility was based on what appeared to be a technicality. Savannah Whaley, the Managing Director for the awards, got back to us to explain what happened.

Essentially, a group of theatergoers (called panelists or “nominators”) are the ones who attend shows and recommend them to Carbonell judges. It takes the approbation of four nominators for a judge to be assigned to see a given show. Judges then select the nominees.

Turns out not enough nominators saw Animals and Plants before it closed, and so not enough judges got to the show to nominate it.

Whaley writes:

Not enough panelists saw the show in a timely manner and the prerequisite six ballots were not in and tallied until the show closed. The panelists do not nominate; since the judges were not given notice to see the show prior to closing, the show is ineligible.

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Furthermore, she says, the snafu has led to an overhaul of the nomination process. Reforms include monitoring of the attendance of nominators, early email contact with producers about the status of a show’s recommendation, and reducing the load of Carbonell panelists so that they’re no longer sent to every show that opens.

“Unfortunately, it often takes an error to detect flaws in the system,” Whaley writes. “The situation with Animals and Plants had never occurred before and has not taken place since.” --Frank Houston

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