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Off Broadway Obie Awards To Ditch Annual Ceremony In Favor Of Winner Grants, Ending 68-Year Tradition

The Obie Awards, the venerable honors for outstanding Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway productions, is doing away with its annual ceremony and will instead use the funds to provide winners with grants ranging from $1,000-$5,000.

Heather Hitchens, the president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing, which presents the Obies, called the grants a new path forward for the awards, saying the move “genuinely reflects the ethos of the Awards as well as the Off & Off Off Broadway movements – which is to continuously evolve and meet the moment.”

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Select winners of this year’s 67th Obie Awards will be announced Saturday on New York’s Spectrum News NY1 as a special presentation of the channel’s On Stage program hosted by Frank DiLella. The special airs at 7:30 p.m./ET.

“The grants and our relationship with Spectrum News NY1 will provide meaningful support, and more effective, nationwide promotion for these incredible artists, innovators, and theater companies,” Hitchens said. The awards ceremony has not traditionally been televised.

The Obies were created by the Village Voice shortly after the newspaper’s inception in 1955, and have become a significant New York tradition and perhaps the most important booster of the city’s non-Broadway theater scene, essentially the Off Broadway counterpart to Broadway’s Tony Awards. The long list of ceremony hosts has included Shelley Winters (the first, in 1956), Colleen Dewhurst, Elaine May, Groucho Marx, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Harvey Fierstein, Cynthia Nixon, S. Epatha Merkerson, Lea DeLaria, Rachel Bloom and, last year, Crystal Lucas-Perry.

Included in the On Stage special, which will take an in-depth look at Obie history, will be the announcement and presentation of awards in the Playwriting, Direction, and Performance categories. The pre-recorded acceptance speeches of the winners will be aired during the special, and then will be available, along with a complete list of winners, at ObieAwards.com.

Guests on the special will include Tony Award nominee and Obie Award winner actor Kara Young (Purlie Victorious, Cost of Living); Hitchens; and Tony- and Obie Award-winning playwright and librettist David Henry Hwang, a former Chair of The American Theatre Wing.

Spectrum News NY1 is available to Spectrum subscribers on channel 1 and also via the Spectrum News App.

This year’s awards recognize works presented throughout the 2022-2023 Off- and Off- Off-Broadway theater season. More than 300 productions were considered for awards.

In 2014, the American Theatre Wing, which co-presents the Tonys along with the Broadway League, became a co-presenter with the Voice of the Obies. In 2021, several years after the Voice ceased publication of its print edition, the Wing took over as sole presenter.

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