The Iveys: For the Love of Theater

The Ivey Awards program is a new initiative to celebrate professional theater in the Twin Cities--one of our greatest resources. editor Ann Klefstad speaks to Scott Mayer, the guy behind this program, sponsored by American Express.

The Ivey Awards

Ann Klefstad: What are the Ivey Awards?

Scott Mayer: The American Express Ivey Awards are a celebration of Twin Cities professional theater. The Ivey Awards culminates in a giant party on September 26, 2005, at Goodfellows, the State Theater, and Solera. The main event, at the State Theater, will feature live theater entertainment, hosts, video, and recognition given to theater organizations and individuals in the theater industry.

AK: Is this a new program?

SM: Yes, this is the first year of what will be an annual event.

AK: What exactly will happen on the 26th? Who’s participating?

SM: September 26, the day of the Awards, is a party in three acts:

First, the CALL is a VIP reception at Goodfellow’s Restaurant. Second, the SHOW is the recognition event at the State Theater. Third, the REVIEWS is the post-party at Solera. All who come to the State Theater event are invited to the post-party.

AK: Who came up with this idea?

SM: I did.

AK: What’s the purpose of the awards?

SM: The purpose is to celebrate Twin Cities Professional Theater. There are two objectives: to raise the visibility of professional theater, and to provide an event at which theater people and the people who love theater can party together.

AK: A great two-part goal. What, ultimately, do you hope the Iveys will accomplish?

SM: Ultimately, to get more people in Twin Cities theater seats.

AK: So where did the name “The Iveys” come from?

SM: There was a restaurant in the Twin Cities at Ninth & Nicollet called the Ivey that was in business at the turn of the twentieth century. It was where all the theater crowd gathered before and after a show. So, in the spirit of coming together and celebrating theater, “The Iveys” were born.

AK: is running a series of articles by leading theater writers leading up to the awards events in September (Steve LaVigne on audiences; Quintin Skinner of City Pages on the playwright behind the play; Anna Pratt of Skyway News on sound (and other technical aspects) in theater; Dominic Papatola of the Pioneer Press on the musical; Graydon Royce of the Strib on the interplay of director and actors; Jaime Kleiman of Mpls. St Paul and on experimental theater). What are you hoping for from these articles?

SM: I’m hoping that the articles will enrich the theater experience for the general public.

AK: In relation to the theater environment in the Twin Cities, do you see the new Guthrie as giving more impetus to local small theaters or as stealing their thunder?

SM: Small theaters are really what make the Guthrie what it is – primarily, by providing the fabulously talented pool of actors, set designers, lighting designers, costumers, etc. And because the Guthrie employs many of these people, they are able to work with smaller theaters for a fee that otherwise would not be feasible. So I see smaller theater and the Guthrie really complimenting each other. This is true of the other large theaters as well, like the Chanhassen and Children’s Theatre. I think the new Guthrie will continue the tradition.

AK: In your view, has the Fringe been a driving force behind the development of a theater world in the Twin Cities, or is it rather a symptom of its vitality?

SM: That’s like the chicken or the egg dilemma. Were it not for all of the theater already existing in this community, the Fringe could not flourish. However, I think the Fringe is a fantastic access point for many people (especially young) who experience theater for the first time via the Fringe. In that sense, it’s really assisting in the development of a theater audience.

AK: What do you think are the greatest problems faced by theaters and theater artists here?

SM: Not having an umbrella organization that can pool resources.

AK: What do you think is the future of Minneapolis theater?

SM: Brilliant!