Section: Arts

Rolling out the red carpet for Kenyon’s Tommy Awards

by India Amos

Forget the Tonys. This year’s most coveted award is the Tommy. Named in honor of late Professor  Emeritus of Drama Thomas Turgeon, who passed away in January 2013, the Kenyon College Dance and Drama Club (KCDC) honors its members with this distinctive award in a quirky awards ceremony that is unlike any other the College offers.

In order to become a member of KCDC, individuals have to earn a minimum of 40 KCDC points — gained by working in theatre performance, dance performance, design and technical, and stage management.  Bolton Players and Hill Players are different statuses earned by KCDC members. A Hill Player must have worked approximately 450 hours on KCDC shows while a Bolton Player will have worked around 750 hours on KCDC shows.

Greg Culley ’14, president of KCDC, shed some light on the nature of the awards ceremony he helped resurrect.

“They are technically the Thomas Turgeon Memorial Awards, and they are for the Kenyon College Dance and Drama Club,” Culley said. “Basically, [they span] 13 categories, celebrating the achievements of the work that was done this year and [during] the KCDC season.”

Culley noted the candidates for the 13 awards are nominated by the the Drama Department’s faculty and staff, senior-class KCDC members, and the Bolton and Hill Players. Those nominations are then voted on by faculty and staff and all KCDC members.

“They get a list of every single person who did anything across those categories we have,” Culley said. “They select top-five nominees in the acting and the ensemble categories, and a top three in all the other categories, like directing and choreography, so whoever comes out with that gets nominated, and the faculty and staff and all the members of KCDC vote on who the winners are.”

The Tommy Awards are one of KCDC’s final collaborative efforts for the school year; they are used not only to honor the brilliance of today’s players in the Kenyon theatre scene but also to commemorate Turgeon. The tradition is one that started three decades ago.

“This actually was something they did back in the ’80s,” Culley said.

Aaron Lynn ’14, who has been nominated for Best Actor as Denny in A Steady Rain, has acted, assistant stage managed and designed throughout his KCDC career. For Lynn, the Tommys “are a great way to celebrate the achievements of everyone involved in KCDC productions at Kenyon.”

KCDC decided recently to start producing the awards ceremony again, and Culley played a large role in the resurrection and execution of the event.

“[The Tommys] started in the ’80s,” he said, “but it went out because it takes a lot of effort [to put on]. And last year I was on the [KCDC] board as secretary, and we got really interested in the idea, and we decided we would be able to bring it back.”

With a desire to honor one another, as well as the greats from their organization’s past, it is no wonder the members of the club are taking the project on with such gusto.

And what do these talented Tommy winners receive as a prize?

“[The original awards hosts] came up with this thing where [Turgeon] posed for a picture, and he is standing there in the Oscar pose,” Culley said. “…That’s what the award is. It’s a foam board with a picture of him on it. It’s nice.”

With such admiration for their peers, as well as their respect for their predecessors, the members of KCDC are eagerly awaiting the Tommy awards ceremony, which will be held tomorrow in Gund Ballroom. Natalie Margolin ’14 and Elizabeth Gambal ’14 will be the event’s emcees. While the ceremony itself is invitation-only, all of the Kenyon community can expect to hear about the buzz created by the glamorous Tommy awards for weeks to come.

And if that’s not enough? Gambal has hinted that there may or may not be a dance performance to look forward to during the show.


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