As happens about this time each December, INDY WEEK’s critics are busy putting their heads together and reloading a full year’s work in regional theater.

In short, you could almost say they’re making a list and checking it…well, a great deal more than twice.

The List for 2012, our final take on excellence in regional theater, will publish in our issue of Dec. 19. But if you’d rather write the headlines, here’s your chance. Leave your nominations for excellence in this year’s regional productions in the comments below. (Or, if you’re the shy type, forward them to

But wait. You can’t play the game at home with another list: the annual categories and criteria we use. They’re below, just after the jump. Best of luck!


The Year in Theater awards are our published, public standard of excellence in this art form. That is the final criterion: unambiguous excellence in the category. Since winning work must represent the “best in the field” as well as the “best of the year,” some categories may have no winners in certain years.

There’s no quota in any category — no “top ten” or “top five.” We recognize the very best: whatever number that is in any category, is the number.

Finally, our awards recognize the best performances, not the best actors; the best designs, not designers; etc. Unless otherwise stated, the artists’ present and individual work is the focus of our deliberations here.


Special Assistance to the Theater: Usually not given to a production, but to a specific person, organization, group or event that significantly assisted theater as a whole (not just one or two companies) in the region. Not given each year.

Special Achievement in the Humanities: Not our “Miss Congeniality” award. It rewards work whose humanitarian impact clearly extends far beyond the walls of a theater, and is given to recognize a production or theater effort that transcends the easy cliché of “community outreach.” The work being rewarded should clearly aid — and probably challenge — the region as it grapples with the issues of our time. Not given every year.

Special Achievement in Ensemble: Recognizes a production whose entire ensemble — without exception — demonstrated clear excellence in acting. Sorry, but one weak link on stage disqualifies. Not given every year. One of our most difficult awards to attain.


Best Original Script/Adaptation
: Recognizes new work that clearly stands on its own as excellent writing for the stage. Not an award for “best local” or “nice try.” Not given every year.

Best Original Music: Recognizes new work composed for a production that clearly makes a significant contribution to the work. Again, not a “best local” or “nice try” award. Not given every year.

Best Musical Direction: For best direction of musicians in musical theater work, or a work in which live music makes a significant contribution.

Best Scenic Design: Rewards an outstanding achievement in this design element. Depending on the nominees and the year, this award may be joined with the other design categories below to make the aggregate “Best Design.”

Best Costume Design: Rewards an outstanding achievement in this design element.

Best Lighting Design: Rewards an outstanding achievement in this design element.

Best Makeup Design: Rewards an outstanding achievement in this design element.

Best Sound Design: This is not an award for best mix tape, or unedited collections of commercially available songs selected to accompany a production. The award recognizes work where professional-level montage of ambient, live and/or pre-recorded music, sound and/or sound effects form a soundscape that substantively defines the world of a production.

Best Effects and Other Design: Rewards an outstanding achievement in design not covered in the categories above.

Best Supporting Performances

Best Lead Performances

Best Direction

Best Productions: This rewards those productions which help define this region’s work at its best.

That’s the lot. Get cracking. See you Dec. 19.