Obie Award

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Obie Awards
Awarded forExcellence in Off-Broadway theatre
LocationNew York City, New York
CountryUnited States
Presented byThe Village Voice
American Theatre Wing
First awarded1956; 68 years ago (1956)
Website Edit this on Wikidata

The Obie Awards or Off-Broadway Theater Awards are annual awards given since 1956 by The Village Voice newspaper to theater artists and groups involved in off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway productions in New York City. Starting just after the 2014 ceremony, the American Theatre Wing became the joint presenter and administrative manager of the Obie Awards. The Obie Awards are considered off-Broadway's highest honor, similar to the Tony Awards for Broadway productions.[1][2]


Julie Bovasso, Shelley Winters and Jason Robards at the first Obie Awards (1956)

The Obie Awards were initiated by critic Jerry Tallmer and Edwin (Ed) Fancher, publisher of The Village Voice, who handled the financing and business side of the project. They were first given in 1956 under the direction of Tallmer. Initially, only off-Broadway productions were eligible; in 1964, off-off-Broadway productions were made eligible. The first Obie Awards ceremony was held at Helen Gee's cafe.[3]

With the exception of the Lifetime Achievement and Best New American Play awards, there are no fixed categories at the Obie Awards, and the winning actors and actresses are all in a single category titled "Performance." There are no announced nominations.[4][5] Awards in the past have included performance, direction, best production, design, special citations, and sustained achievement. Not every category is awarded every year. The Village Voice also awards annual Obie grants to selected companies; in 2011, these grants were $2,000 each to Metropolitan Playhouse and Wakka Wakka Productions.[6] There is also a Ross Wetzsteon Grant, named after its former theater editor, in the amount of $2,000 (in 2009; in 2011 the grant was $1,000), for a theatre that nurtures innovative new plays.[7]

The first awards in 1955-1956 for plays and musicals were given to Absalom (Lionel Abel) as Best New Play, Uncle Vanya, Best All-Around Production and The Threepenny Opera as Best Musical.[8]

Other awards for off-Broadway theatre are the Lucille Lortel Awards, the Drama Desk Awards, the Drama League Award, and the Outer Critics Circle Awards.

As of September 2014, the Obie Awards are jointly presented by the American Theatre Wing and the Village Voice, with the Wing having "overall responsibility for running" the Awards.[9]

In 2021, American Theatre Wing took over as sole presenter of the Obie Awards and continue to present the honors for off and off-off Broadway theatre.[10]

Award categories[edit]

  • Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress
  • Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actor
  • Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Ensemble
  • Sustained Achievement Award
  • Best New American Theatre Work Award
  • Playwriting Award
  • Design Award
  • Special Citations
  • Obie Grants
  • The Ross Wetzsteon Award

Ceremony history[edit]

Year Host Venue Presenters
1956 Shelley Winters unknown venue
1957 Geraldine Page The Limelight
1958 Maureen Stapleton
1959 Kim Stanley Village Gate
1960 Anne Bancroft
1961 Julie Harris
1962 Lotte Lenya
1963 Uta Hagen
1964 Colleen Dewhurst
1965 Gloria Foster
1966 Anne Jackson
1967 Barbara Harris
1968 Estelle Parsons
1969 Julie Bovasso
1970 Dustin Hoffman
1971 Elaine May
1972 Groucho Marx
1973 Sylvia Miles unknown venue
1974 Madeleine Le Roux unknown venue
1975 Godfrey Cambridge Village Gate
1976 no formal host Lincoln Center
1977 Paul Sorvino, Gilda Radner, Marilyn Sokol The Bottom Line
1978 Dustin Hoffman
1979 Ron Leibman
1980 no formal host Roxy NYC
1981 Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver
1982 Swoosie Kurtz, Tommy Tune Savoy
1983 Harvey Fierstein, Julie Bovasso First City Cabaret
1984 no formal host Cat Club
1985 Ellen Stewart, Harvey Fierstein Puck Building
1986 Christopher Durang, Swoozie Kurtz unknown venue
1987 Morgan Freeman, Christine Lahti unknown venue
1988 Morgan Freeman, Lee Breuer unknown venue
1989 no formal host unknown venue
1990 Julie Bovasso, Olympia Dukakis unknown venue
1991 Stockard Channing, Alan Arkin Palladium Ballroom
1992 Jerry Zaks, Kate Nelligan
1993 no formal host unknown venue
1994 Mary McDonnell, James McDaniel unknown venue
1995 Hector Elizondo, Anne Meara unknown venue
1996 Nicky Silver unknown venue
1997 no formal host unknown venue Fyvush Finkel, Kathleen Chalfant, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Peter Francis James, Shirley Knight, Camryn Manheim, Mary Louise Parker, Roger Guenveur Smith, Julie Taymor, Marisa Tomei, Rip Torn, Ming Cho Lee, Karin Coonrod, and Scott Elliot[11]
1998 Eric Bogosian, Kristen Johnson[12] Webster Hall Danny Hoch, Woodie King Jr., Mac Wellman, Mary Louise Wilson, Lea DeLaria, Ellie Covan, Tsai Chin, Greg Germann, and Liz Diamond[13]
1999 Lea DeLaria, Paul Rudnick[14] Betty Buckley, Kathleen Chalfant, Stephen DeRosa, David Henry Hwang, Swoosie Kurtz, Elizabeth Marvel, John Cameron Mitchell, Everett Quinton, Phylicia Rashad, and Roger Rees[15]
2000 Claudia Shear, Mary Testa[16] Ping Chong, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Cynthia Nixon, Frances Sternhagen, Mary Testa, Carmelita Tropicana, James Urbaniak[17]
2001 Brian Murray, Marian Seldes[18] Darius De Haas, David Gallo, Linda Lavin, Marion McClinton, Debra Monk, Mark Russell, J. Smith-Cameron, and Daphne Rubin-Vega[19]
2002 Karen Evans Kandel, Ruben Santiago-Hudson[20] Elizabeth Franz, Mary Louise Parker, Ellen McLaughlin, Rinde Eckert, Richard Maxwell, Suzan-Lori Parks, and George C. Wolfe[21]
2003 Bill Irwin, Charlayne Woodard[22] Edward Albee, Linda Emond, Juliana Francis, Martha Plimpton, Jackie Hoffman, Eddie Izzard, John Ortiz, and Liev Schreiber[23]
2004 Swoosie Kurtz, Raul Esparza[24] Viola Davis, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, and Denis O'Hare[25]
2005 Stockard Channing, Brian F. O'Byrne Elaine Stritch and Frances Sternhagen[26]
2006 Lili Taylor, Eric Bogosian[27] Skirball Center for the Performing Arts Christine Lahti, Christine Ebersole, Edward Hibbert, Douglas Carter Beane, Phylicia Rashad, and Oskar Eustis[28]
2007 Cynthia Nixon, T.R. Knight[29] Michael Cerveris, Angela Lansbury, William Ivey Long, Camryn Manheim, Stephanie March, Terrence McNally, Liev Schreiber, and Anika Noni Rose[30]
2008 Elizabeth Marvel, Bill Camp[31] Webster Hall Jonathan Groff, Priscilla Lopez, S. Epatha Merkerson, Marisa Tomei, Julie White and Bradley Whitford[32]
2009 Daniel Breaker, Martha Plimpton[33] Anne Hathaway, Brian d'Arcy James, Gavin Creel, John Shea, Karen Olivo, Kate Mulgrew, Marc Kudisch, and Nilaja Sun[34]
2010 Anika Noni-Rose and Michael Cerveris[35] J. Smith-Cameron, Marin Ireland, Linda Lavin, Hamish Linklater, Michael Shannon and Jennifer Westfeldt[36]
2011 S. Epatha Merkerson and David Hyde Pierce[6] Nina Arianda, Alec Baldwin, Margaret Colin, Mamie Gummer, Rose Hemingway, John Larroquette, Patina Miller, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Arian Moayed, Jim Parsons, Andrew Rannells, Liev Schreiber, and Frank Wood[37]
2012 no formal host Eric McCormack, Grace Gummer, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce, Justin Bartha, Leslie Odom Jr., Lily Rabe, Michael McKean, Tonya Pinkins, Topher Grace, and Tracee Chimo[38]
2013 Jessica Hecht and Jeremy Shamos[39] Bobby Cannavale, Tracee Chimo, Cyndi Lauper, Judith Light, Krysta Rodriguez, Duncan Sheik, Meryl Streep, and Courtney B. Vance[40]
2014 Tamara Tunie and Hamish Linklater[41] Betsy Aidem, Harvey Fierstein, Lena Hall, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Andy Karl, David Bar Katz, Cristin Milioti, Kelli O'Hara, Lily Rabe, and Stephen Trask[42]
2015 Lea DeLaria[43] Sting, Jessie Eisenberg, Stockard Channing, Billy Crudup, Tony Kushner, Lisa Kron, and William Ivey Long[44]
2016 Lea DeLaria[45] Savion Glover, Elizabeth Marvel, Colman Domingo, Danai Gurira, Tovah Feldshuh, Lisa Kron, Maura Tierney, Kate Burton, Carrie Preston, Norm Lewis, and Marlo Thomas[46]
2017 Lea DeLaria[47] Chris Cooper, Rose Byrne, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Jayne Houdyshell, Lena Hall, Jefferson Mays, LaChanze, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Taylor Mac, Darius de Haas, Mike Faist, J. Smith-Cameron, David Henry Hwang, Derek McLane, William Ivey Long, Emilio Sosa, Peter Barbey[48]
2018 John Leguizamo[49] Terminal 5 Andrew Garfield, Lucy Liu, Matthew Broderick, Oliver Platt, Laura Benanti, Laura Osnes, Beth Malone, David Morse, Itamar Moses, Arian Moayed, Stephen Trask, Gideon Glick, Rebecca Taichman, William Ivey Long, Natasha Katz, David Henry Hwang, David Zinn, Emilio Sosa, Lilli Cooper, Pixie Aventura, Heather Hitchens, Peter Barbey, Michael Feingold[50]
2019 Rachel Bloom[51] Terminal 5 Eric Bogosian, Julie White, Kristine Nielsen, Beowulf Boritt, Patti LuPone, Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater, Heather Hitchens, David Henry Hwang, Billy Crudup, Margo Seibert, Michael John LaChiusa, Liesl Tommy, Damon Daunno, Rachel Chavkin, Rebecca Taichman, Luke Cresswell, Riccardo Hernandez, Mimi Lien, Marc Kudisch[52]
2020 Cole Escola[53] YouTube
(virtual, due to COVID-19)[54]
Clint Ramos, Craig Lucas, Cynthia Erivo, Dominique Morisseau, Eisa Davis, Emilio Sosa, Heather Hitchens, Heidi Schreck, Katrina Lenk, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Liesl Tommy, Malcolm Gets, Rachel Chavkin, Rachel Hauck, Sahr Ngaujah, Sam Pinkleton, Saycon Sengbloh[55]
2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, the 66th Obie Awards were not held until 2023, collectively honouring productions of the 2020–21, 2021–22 and 2022–23 theater seasons[56]
2023 Crystal Lucas-Perry[57] Terminal 5 Emilio Sosa, Heather Hitchens, J. Allen Suddeth, Melissa Rose Bernardo, David Mendizábal, Rachel Chavkin,

Notable winners[edit]


Year Recipients[58]
2000 Cynthia Hopkins (Performance - Another Telepathic Thing); Byron Jennings (Performance Award - Waste); Maria Irene Fornes (Special Citation - Letters From Cuba); Susan Hilferty (Sustained Excellence in Costume Design)
2001 Brian d'Arcy James (Performance Award - The Good Thief); Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Special Citation - Lackawanna Blues); Justin Vivian Bond (Special Citation - Kiki and Herb: Jesus Wept); Kirsten Childs (Music and Lyrics Award - The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin); Neil Patel (Design Award - War of the Worlds, Resident Alien, Race, I Will Bear Witness); José Rivera (Playwrighting Award - References To Salvador Dali Make Me Hot)
2002 Kevin Adams (Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design); Tony Kushner (Playwrighting Award - Homebody/Kabul); Caryl Churchill; Charles L. Mee
2003 Mac Wellman (Lifetime Achievement Award); Mos Def (Performance Award - Fucking A); Fiona Shaw (Performance - Medea); Edward Norton (Performance - Burn This); Denis O'Hare (Performance Award - Take Me Out); Christine Ebersole (Performance Award - Talking Heads); Kenneth Posner (Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design); David Greenspan (Special Citation - She Stoops to Comedy)
2004 Derek McLane; Moises Kaufman (Directing Award - I am My Own Wife); Viola Davis (Performance Award - Intimate Apparel); Sarah Jones (Performance Award - Bridge & Tunnel); Jefferson Mays (Performance Award - I am My Own Wife); Tony Kushner (Special Citation - Caroline, or Change); Jeanine Tesori (Special Citation - Caroline, or Change); Alex Timbers (Special Citation - A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant)
2005 LaChanze (Performance Award - Dessa Rose); Cherry Jones (Performance Award - Doubt); Deirdre O'Connell (Sustained Excellence in Performance Award); Rui Rita (Design Award - Engaged); Caryl Churchill (Playwrighting Award - A Number); Lynn Nottage (Playwriting Award - Fabulation); Ivo van Hove (Directing Award - Hedda Gabler)
2006 Dana Ivey (Performance Award - Mrs. Warren's Profession); Christine Ebersole (Performance Award - Grey Gardens); Allen Moyer (Sustained Excellence of Set Design); Robert O'Hara (Special Citation - In the Continuum); Danai Gurira (Special Citation - In the Continuum); Adam Rapp (Special Citation - Red Light Winter)
2007 Young Jean Lee (Obie Grant Award); Lin-Manuel Miranda (Music and Lyrics Award - In the Heights); Beowulf Boritt (Sustained Excellence in Set Design); Anne Kauffman
2008 Adrienne Kennedy (Lifetime Achievement Award); Annie Dorsen (Best New Theatre Piece - Passing Strange); Kate Mulgrew (Performance Award - Iphigenia 2.0); Jane Greenwood (Sustained Excellence of Costume Design Award); David Henry Hwang (Playwrighting Award - Yellow Face
2009 Lynn Nottage (Best American Play - Ruined); Stephen Sondheim (Music and Lyrics Award - Road Show); Jonathan Groff (Performance Award - Prayer for my Enemy)


Year Recipients Ref.
2010 Sam Gold (Directing Award - Circle Mirror Transformation, The Alien); Reed Birney (Performance Award - Circle Mirror Transformation)
2011 Laurie Metcalf (Performance Award - The Other Place); Leigh Silverman (Directing Award - In the Wake, Go Back to Where You Are)
2012 Steven Hoggett, Martin Lowe, John Tiffany (Special Citations - Once); Mimi Lien (Set Design Award); Erin Courtney (Special Citation - A Map of Virtue) [59]
2013 Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin (Special Citations - Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812); Annie Baker (Playwriting Award - The Flick) [60]
2014 Sydney Lucas (Performance Award - Fun Home); Sonya Tayeh (Choreography Award) [61]
2015 Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler (Best New American Theatre Work - Hamilton) [62]
2016 Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul (Musical Theatre Award - Dear Evan Hansen); Ben Platt (Performance Award); Lupita Nyong'o (Performance Award) [63]
2017 Lynn Nottage (Playwriting Award - Sweat); J.T. Rogers (Playwriting Award - Oslo); Matthew Broderick (Performance Award); Michael Urie (Performance Award) [64]
2018 Rajiv Joseph (Best New American Play-Describe the Night); Will Swenson (Performance Award); Jessica Hecht (Performance Award); Billy Crudup (Performance Award); Donald Holder (Lighting Design Award) [65]
2019 Heidi Schreck (Best New American Play - What the Constitution Means to Me); Daniel Fish, John Heginbotham, Daniel Kluger, Laura Jellinek, Terese Wadden, Scott Zielinski, Drew Levy, Joshua Thorson (Special Citations-Oklahoma!) [66]


Year Recipients Ref.
2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, the 66th Obie Awards were not held until 2023, collectively honouring productions of the 2020–21, 2021–22 and 2022–23 theater seasons [56]
2023 [56]


Obie Grants are awarded each year to select theatre companies. Previous recipients include:

Year Recipient
1985 Intar
The Production Company
The Richard Allen Center
Spiderwoman Theatre
The Split Britches Company
1986 P.S. 122
Billie Holiday Theatre
Mabou Mines
1987 The Irish Arts Center
Brooklyn Arts and Cultural Association (BACA)
The New Theatre of Brooklyn
1988 CSC Repertory
Theatre for a New Audience
1989 Cucaracha Warehouse Theater
The Living Theater
1990 Dixon Place
Pregones Theater
WOW Cafe
BACA New Works Project
52nd Street Project
1991 En Garde Arts
Hearts and Voices
Mettawee River Theater Company
1992 Downtown Art Company
Franklin Furnace
Soho Repertory Company
1993 Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Pearl Theater
1994 Changing Scenes
HERE Arts Center
1995 Archives at LaMama
Blueprint Series at Ontologic-Hysteric Theatre
1996 New George's
The TEBA Group
1997 St.Paul's Community Baptist Church Drama Ministry
Great Small Works
1998 Housing Works Theater Project
Caught in the Act annual one-act festival presented (Threshold Theater Co.)
1999 The POINT Community Development Corporation
National Asian American Theater
2000 Five Myles
Circus Amok
Big Dance Theater
2001 Soho Rep
Clubbed Thumb
Classical Theater of Harlem
Mint Theater Company
2002 Ma-Yi Theater Company
Salt Theater Company
2003 Collapsable Hole
The Immigrant Theatre Project
2004 The Civilians
Musicals Tonight
THAW (Theaters Against War)
2005 13P
Epic Theatre Company
Little Theater at Tonic
Gina Gionfriddo Distinguished Emerging Playwright
Margo Skinner Memorial Acting Scholarship
2007 Peculiar Works Project
The Play Company
Synapse Productions
Transport Group
Young Jean Lee
2008 Keen Company
Theater of a Two-Headed Calf
2009 The Chocolate Factory
The Classical Theatre of Harlem
Lark Play Development Center
2010 Harlem School of the Arts
Ontological Incubator
Vampire Cowboys
2011 Metropolitan Playhouse
Wakka Wakka
2012 The Bushwick Starr
The Debate Society
2013 Fulcrum Theater
Half Straddle
2014 48 Hours in Harlem
600 Highwaymen
2015 Horse Trade Theater Group / The Fire This Time Festival
JACK (Arts Center)
2016 Bedlam Theatre
Noor Theatre
Prospect Theater Company
2017 Irish Repertory Theatre
Pearl Theatre Company
The Playwrights Realm
2018 Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre
York Theatre Company
2019 The Movement Theatre Company
Target Margin Theatre
WP Theater
2023 The Sol Project
Theatre in Quarantine
See Lighting Foundation
Anticapitalism for Artists

Ross Wetzsteon Award is a $2,000 grant awarded to a theatre that nurture innovative new plays. Previous recipients include:

Year Recipient
1998 The Vineyard Theater
1999 Ellie Covan
1999 Dixon Place
2000 The Foundry
2001 Theatre For A New Audience
2002 PS 122
2003 Soho Think Tank's Ice Factory series at the Ohio Theatre
2004 St. Ann's Warehouse
2005 New Dramatists
2006 Soho Repertory Theater
2007 Rattlestick Theatre
2008 Cherry Lane Theatre Mentor Project
2009 HERE Arts Center
2011 Belarus Free Theatre
2014 Abrons Arts Center
2015 Ars Nova
2016 NAATCO / National Asian American Theatre Company
2017 Theatre For a New Audience
2018 Ma-Yi Theater Company
2019 LCT3
2023 The Classical Theatre of Harlem


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External links[edit]