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This year’s Norton Award goes to …

We chose not to ballot for this past year’s Norton Awards, and to instead focus on giving out a special recognition award.  The event was last night, and was overall an improvement on last year.  I know how much work this has been for the core organizers, and a pretty thankless task at that.  Here’s to hoping that Theater Tampa Bay continues to pick up steam and that next year’s event is the best yet.  I believe that the judging panel model that is being moved to in order to account for all professional productions is going to be just the thing.

I believe that there is a lot of merit in an event like this. We deserve something like it here. To paraphrase a Matt McGee riff from last night, we may “do theater in a swamp” but there is a wealth of talent and quality work happening here.
For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a transcript of the award speech I gave last night.  Congrats, Roz!
Part of Jobsite’s mission from the very beginning has been to help encourage our community to not just be consumers, but true citizens. These awards, established in the name of our good friend, exist to recognize those who honor the stage like Jeff did, as Rosemary Orlando so eloquently stated last year during the first event.
The ideas of truly engaging a community, of promoting action or philanthropy need not be mutually exclusive from the pursuit of producing great theater. There are those gifted and dedicated artists among us at Jobsite and in this community at large who also work tirelessly to help raise awareness, funds, supplies, and other forms of support to help others in the community and in our world at large.
I know there are some who are uncomfortable mixing ideas of artistry and awards, but I don’t believe anyone can question the value in recognizing persons who go above and beyond dedication to the work on stage – a commitment that already requires a collosal amount of time, talent and energy. There are those among us who truly go beyond to help make this world a better place through this art form that we are blessed to be part of that is at its core about community.
One such person among us tonight is Roz Potenza. I have known Roz as a friend, as a cherished rock of a partner to my good friend Paul, as a writer, an actor, a costume designer, a craftsperson, a supporter of the arts — of course as a fellow dog-lover — but also as a tireless organizer and contributor to organizations and to other people.
Roz has been instrumental over these many years, in addition to her many valued contributions to our stage, in organizing fundraisers, awareness campaigns, collection drives, and general community building in getting one group of people in the same room with another. I don’t want to embarrass her with every detail of every effort (I’m sure she’s plenty embarrassed as is), but just allow me to say that in particular her efforts during Embedded and most recently The Guys are in themselves worthy of the recognition she is receiving tonight.
During Embedded she spearheaded collection efforts for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. With our multiple productions of The Guys, most recently just last year in memorial of a decade’s passing since the tragic events of 9/11, Roz was essential to significant fundraising efforts with the 9/11 Widow and Childrens Fund, The Humane Society of Tampa Bay, The Tampa Firefighter’s Museum, Oldsmar Fire Rescue, Suncoast Hospice — among others –who needed support. I know personally how much time any one of these efforts demand of a person, and when we consider them together it shows exceptional effort by an exceptional human being.
As Jobsite looks to engage our community at a more civic level, Roz is as good a role model as we can ask for. I’m not sure she’s ever told us no, and I can’t say that I’ve ever, ever heard her complain — from last-minute emergency stitching assistance, to dealing with weirdo directors walking her through an air-humping maneuver while she was dressed in drag, to shipping care packages half-way across the world – Jobsite Theater is proud to have Roz Potenza as part of our mighty Ensemble.
This award for Outstanding Service to Jobsite and the Community goes to Roz Potenza.
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