Obies Honor ‘A Strange Loop’ and ‘Heroes of the Fourth Turning’


A Strange Loop,” Michael R. Jackson’s meta-musical about race, sexuality and musical theater, and “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” Will Arbery’s play about faith and politics in a corner of the conservative Catholic world, were the most-honored shows Tuesday night at the annual Obie Awards.

The creative teams and ensembles of both productions were given special citations, and their writers were given playwriting awards at the ceremony, which honors shows staged Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway. This year’s ceremony had been scheduled to take place in May before a live audience; it was moved online and delayed by the coronavirus, and then delayed again by protests over racial injustice that have swept the nation.

Both “A Strange Loop,” which in May won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for drama, and “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” a Pulitzer finalist, were staged by Playwrights Horizons. The retiring artistic director of that Off Broadway theater, Tim Sanford, was given a lifetime achievement award.

The Obies, copresented by the American Theatre Wing and the Village Voice, are an unusual ceremony — there are no set categories, so the judges, led this year by the choreographer Sam Pinkleton and the set designer Rachel Hauck, can recognize any work they choose. The ceremony, emceed by Cole Escola, was prerecorded and streamed on YouTube; it honored shows that opened between May 1, 2019 and March 12, 2020. The two-hour-long broadcast included a performance of “Our Time” by alumni of several casts of “Merrily We Roll Along.”

Along with Jackson and Arbery, Haruna Lee was granted a playwriting award for the conception and writing of “Suicide Forest,” which had productions at the Bushwick Starr and the Ma-Yi Theater Company.

Among the other winners:

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