BE Festival starts tomorrow (Tuesday), so that makes it a year since I was on the judging panel. I don’t really agree with art prizes (perhaps because I’ve never won one) so it was a bit hypocritical to agree to be a judge on an art prize panel, but I’m emotionally beholden to BE and find it difficult to refuse them anything.
In the end I had a great week. It was lovely to have an excuse to clear my diary see all the productions at BE – the first time I’ve done this. Being a judge meant complimentary food in the fabulous ‘on stage’ BE restaurant and the biggest treat was meeting the other judges and arguing and agreeing with them.
Naturally there were shows other judges loved for being profound, moving or clever that left me cold or disinterested. There was a show I loved but others felt lacking in some way and no argument I could make would persuade them otherwise. There was the show I expected to not like that I loved and acted as cheerleader for. There were shows we felt too slick, others too knowing.
Each day we met before the first performance to reflect on the previous day’s shows. A chance to tune into each others aesthetic, to gauge the field, to clarify our own thought by hearing the thoughts of others.
When it came to the final reckoning we cut the festival brochure up to get a picture of each show an pushed them around a table top in the sealed off dining area. Knowing the audience were voting for their own prize allowed us not to be swayed by cheering and whooping where we didn’t feel like cheering or whooping.
Multiple subsidiary prizes sponsored by venues across Europe but awarded by us, made haggling easier. “In or out?” was followed by “we have to lose some” resulted in “this or that?” became “so is it these?” and eventually “which matches which prize?” with the clock ticking down we came to “are we happy with this?” and I think we were.
You have your own aesthetic preferences and presumably you’ve been asked onto the panel because of those preferences but you are always award that the name BE Festival will be on the prize so your ultimately your choice must represent them and their values as well.
I think we did a good job and tomorrow at 7pm you can see the first prize winners ODC Ensemble from Greece performing the full (and updated) version of their winning show Revolt in Athens.