The 2013 Independent Theater Awards, which took place on Monday, May 20, were held this year in the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Fleischmann Auditorium. With its tradition of blending nature and art and of promoting the enduring value of culture in the context of a long view of humanity, the museum made a great and welcoming venue for the Indys, which were established 22 years ago to provide recognition for achievements in regional theater. Beneath the ancient Chumash tomol canoe that hangs over its entrance, more than a hundred people — actors, directors, writers, designers, and their family and friends — gathered to present the statuettes, make acceptance speeches, take photos, and feast on food by Jack’s Catering and wine from Seth Kunin.
Among the 21 awards, some patterns and some individuals stood out. This year, designers made a very strong showing, with Frederick Deeben, Pamela Shaw, Patricia Frank, and Nayna Ramey all receiving Indys for their work in theatrical design, either of costumes or of sets and lighting. Directors also received a significant share of the recognition, with Cheri Steinkellner, Jonathan Fox, R. Michael Gros, Tom Whitaker, and Patricia Troxel all winning awards. The honor to Troxel was particularly poignant, as this beloved professor at Cal Poly and director at PCPA passed away just over a month ago after a battle with cancer. PCPA Artistic Director and Associate Dean Mark Booher accepted on her behalf and reminded those present not only of what an inspiration Troxel was to thousands of students and colleagues but also of the upcoming memorial service for her, which will be held on Sunday, May 26, at 7 p.m. at the Solvang Festival Theater. The ceremony ended on an up note as Arthur Hanket — who played the lead in Present Laughter, the Noel Coward play produced by Santa Barbara City College this spring — accepted his award. It was one of an impressive six honors bestowed on what was clearly the year’s most lauded production.