Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Evaluation drama for 'the Queen'

Back in August I discussed the Foster's Comedy Awards and their approach to evaluation. Now I turn to the drama of the theatre, rewriting the script and a novel approach to declaring best Actress Award at the Evening Standard Awards. Pantomime may just be seasonal.

In this real-life drama we learn of a secret ballot between five judges which ended in a dead heat. In a very bizarre piece of casting, the two actresses, who could have been equal winners, found themselves relegated to joint second position as they were overtaken by a new winner, Helen Mirren for her role as the Queen in 'The Audience'.

While a secret ballot took place to determine Best Actress, the results were seen by two of judges, who were employed by the sponsor (The Evening Standard). The two judges saw the results of the ballot, then altered their votes and the completely new winner emerged.

One of those who changed their vote did so by eliminating one of the contenders for the starring role by creating a new category, Best Musical Performance. Whether or not that particular actress was given the choice or asked their preference between the existing and the new award, we don't know.

There was no attempt made to reach an agreement with the other judges, but three of the judges have now resigned. Wouldn't it have been interesting if the culprits had watched Twelve Angry Men and learnt from that instead.

For the winner some of the shine has been removed from what could have been a well-earned accolade. For those shortlisted who lost there will remain the doubt of whether or not they should in a just award been the shared winner. For the judges there will remain the lingering doubt that they were just pawns. Who can have pride in such a piece of shoddy workmanship. Who would want to be associated with such a pantomime.

Next year there won't be judges, just an advisory panel. I'd expect the new advisory panel to ask for some terms of reference before participating to satisfy themselves they've more than walk-on parts in a granted play.

Could you just imagine the outcry if, in a tender award, you couldn't work out which of two bidders is the winner and arrived at solution by deciding 'let's give the award to someone both beat and create an additional award to take the bad look of it' - I'm sure that would never, ever happen.

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