2014 True West Award: Ben Cowhick




Ben Cowhick was so convincingly raw as a hyperactive meth addict in A&A Productions’ Good Television, you couldn’t look away — but you sure couldn’t look him in the eye as he alternately snarled and sniveled and unraveled right before us in the too-close-for-comfort confines of the Aurora Fox studio theatre. There is certainly no shortage of recent plays exposing the already glaring reality that there is nothing real about reality TV. The target of Good Television is the enduring 2005 A&E series Intervention, which tricks addicts into thinking they are being filmed for a documentary about addiction, when they are actually being lured into nationally televised interventions, with fully complicit family members playing along because, heck, we get to be on TV. All it will cost us is our dignity. Good Television suggests that pretty much everything about the show is, if not faked, then certainly “directed” to produce a predictable outcome. Everyone here is a user — and not just the one using meth. So it’s no surprise that the most honest moments in Good Television came from the story’s two most honest characters: Clem, the 21-year-old South Carolina tweaker played with such raging sweetness by Cowhick; and his naive trailer-park sister Brittany, played with aching genuineness by Christine Sharpe. It’s ironic that a play about addiction ultimately triumphs with the harrowing revelation that Clem’s real damage began long before his first snort. Reality TV may be inherently fake. Truth be told, live theatre is, too. But there was nothing remotely untrue about Cowhick’s performance.
1: Norrell Moore
2. Kate Gleason
3. Amanda Berg Wilson and Jeremy Make
4. Ben Cowhick
5. Robert Michael Sanders
6. David Nehls
7. Adrian Egolf
8. Emma Messenger
9. Buntport’s Naughty Bits
10. Tim Howard
11. Gleason Bauer
12. Daniel Traylor
13. Aisha Jackson and Jim Hogan
14. Cast of ‘The Whipping Man’
15. Rick Yaconis
16. Michael R. Duran
17. Laura Norman
18. Jacquie Jo Billings
19. Megan Van De Hey
x20. Jeremy Palmer
21. Henry Lowenstein   
22. Sam Gregory
23. Wendy Ishii
24. J. Michael Finley
25. Kristen Samu and Denver Actors Fund volunteers
26. Matthew D. Peters
27. Shannan Steele
28. Ludlow, 1914
29. Spring Awakening and Annapurna
30 Theatre Person of the Year Steve Wilson

The True West Awards, which began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001, are the longest-running continuously administered awards program in Colorado theater. This year, the awards have been reconceived to simply recognize 30 award-worthy achievements in local theatre, without categories or nominations. A different honoree will be singled out each day for 30 days.

The True West Awards are administered by arts journalist John Moore, who was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since founded The Denver Actors Fund and taken a groundbreaking position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. His coverage of the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org 

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