B. Iden Payne Awards

From Austin Improv Community Wiki

The B. Iden Payne Awards are annual awards for local theater in Austin.

The awards currently include improv categories for "Outstanding Production" and "Outstanding Director", as well as the "Rudy Kloptik Award for Outstanding Improvisational Troupe".


The B. Iden Payne awards are given annually in the fall by the B. Iden Payne awards council, a sponsored project of the Austin Creative Alliance(formerly Austin Circle of Theatres or ACoT), to "recognize outstanding contributions to the Austin theatre community". They are named after British theatre director and UT professor B. Iden Payne and handed out their first awards in 1974. The usual process for the B. Iden Payne awards is as follows: members of the nominating committee will see every show which has submitted itself for consideration for the season. Committee members create the nominations for the ballot, and the ballot is open to any supporter of Austin Creative Alliance (voting used to be open only to paying ACA members but is now open to any member of the public who provides financial support to the ACA, no matter how much). The process by which improv has been recognized has evolved over its B. Iden Payne award history.

Only scripted productions were included in the ceremonies until 2006, when Austin Circle of Theatres director Latifah Taormina invited the improv community to become a part of the awards. The first year, all voting was done in a single round, with each improvisor delivering their ballot with a single nomination via email or paper to Rachel Madorsky and Valerie Ward, who took care of the voting and nominations. The top five nominees were announced on September 25th, and the winner was announced at the awards ceremony on October 29th. The official title of the award was "The Rudy Kloptic Award for Outstanding Improvisational Theatre Ensemble," named after Rudy Kloptic (need more info on who he was).

In 2007, voting was again done through a single ballot, this time via online anonymous voting system set up by Roy Janik using Bob Apthorpe's voting program. The top five nominees were announced on October 20 and the winner on October 21. Voting was open by invitation to all improvisors and students active at that time, approximately 125 people total.

In 2008, the nominations process and award format was changed. Instead of an outstanding ensemble/troupe/company, voters could nominate up to 8 individuals to receive recognition and share the award as part of The Improv Dream Team - a collection of eight individuals who are highly respected both on and off stage. Nominations were collected from performers and students via email, organized by Chris Trew. No nominees were announced, just the top 8 winners at that year's ceremony.

In 2009, Dave Buckman spearheaded the awards nominations process. He assembled a list of every Austin-based troupe (a consistent cast of players performing long term) and show (a specific concept with a limited run) that had performed that year. A combined 180 shows and troupes were eligible to be nominated. Nomination ballots with the complete list were distributed in every program at The Out Of Bounds festival that year, and nominations were open to OOB audience members as well as improvisors and students. Individuals could nominate up to three shows/troupes via the paper ballot or by contacting Dave directly. Nominees were announced September 9 and handed over to the ACoT members for general membership voting, as all other theatre categories are voted on. In addition to the official nominees, Dave recognized the following groups as notable runner ups: 40 Hour Marathon, Available Cupholders, Get Up, Girls Girls Girls, Guilds of Steel, Venn Diaphragm, ... and FUCT(!)<--(huge write-in campaign!). 2010 nominations were handled in the same way.

In 2011 and 2013, the artistic directors of each of the five improv theaters nominated one troupe or show to represent their theatre, and these nominations were passed to the awards committee for member voting.

In 2012, Dave Buckman again wragled the nominations process with open nominations based on the following eligibility requirements: a) it is improvised theater (no sketch work) b) it had a run of at least 4 shows on either a regular weekly or monthly basis c) exemplifies the best Improvisational Theater in Austin. Individuals could nominate up to three shows or troupes. The top five nominees were again passed to the awards committee for member voting. Runners up included: Danger! Warning! Improv!, Process, The Frank Mills/Midnight Society, The Knuckleball Now, and The Megaphone Show.

At the 2012 awards ceremony it was announced that starting with the 2013-2014 season, improv would be fully integrated into the awards ceremony, and any improv show with a run of 6 or more performances would be eligible to be viewed and nominated by the B. Iden Payne awards committee. Any show meeting eligibility requirements could submit itself for consideration, and would be viewed and considered for two new improv specific awards, Outstanding Production and Outstanding Director, as well as being eligible for all acting categories and general categories. The Rudy Kloptic award was maintained and once again reserved exclusively for the recognition of improv troupes, which will continue to be nominated by the improv community. Nominees for the two new awards would be generated through the rigorous nominations committee process. The committee guidelines for the new awards are as follows, from the B. Iden Payne website:

PRODUCTION (IMPROV) DEFINITION: The cohesive synthesis of all production elements including design, direction and collective intent amongst performers Guidelines: Clear execution of story/mood/theme elicits a strong visceral or intellectual response Performers display consistency and collective intention in the stage work Consistent flow and progression in story/action culminating in a clear end to the action Effective use of available resources Cohesive synthesis of all production elements including design, direction, & performance

DIRECTION (IMPROV) DEFINITION: Guides and supports all creative and technical elements of a production to create a unified and engaging story world with defined characters and action Guidelines: Credible and engaging story world with defined characters was created by performers on stage Performers established an appropriate style, mood and pace Story was clearly articulated and progressed at an appropriate pace by the performers Casting: All actors were suited to their roles and work together in a purposeful manner (reactive) Clear collaboration between director and designers which supports all creative and technical elements of a production to tell a unified & integrated affecting story

The nominees would then be voted on by any monetary supporter of the Austin Creative Alliance, opening voting up to all interested parties who could donate, as opposed to the previous system of only dues-paying member of the ACA being able to vote.

List of Improv Award Winners and Nominees, By Year

2005-2006 Season

2006-2007 Season

2007-2008 Season

Austin's "Improvisational Dream Team" ( the best reps of improvisational theatre, both on stage and in the community.)

Dave Buckman, Asaf Ronen, Tami Nelson, Chris Trew, Michael Jastroch, Shana Merlin, Roy Janik, and Justin York.

2008-2009 Season

2009-2010 Season

2010-2011 Season

2011-2012 Season

2012-2013 Season

2013-2014 Season

  • General Theatre Awards and nominations:

2014-2015 Season