Announcing Barrymore Awards Program Changes for the 2019-20 Season | Theatre Philadelphia
Home Theatre News Announcing Barrymore Awards Program Changes for the 2019-20 Season

Announcing Barrymore Awards Program Changes for the 2019-20 Season

Jun 12, 2019

Theatre Philadelphia proudly announces a variety of updates to the Barrymore Awards program for the 2019-20 season.

The Barrymore Oversight Committee, a group of volunteers from the theatre community tasked with maintaining and advancing the program, led the process that involved conducting public surveys, facilitating community forums, organizing subcommittee groups, and crafting proposals to Theatre Philadelphia’s Board of Directors for adoption.

These changes will take place starting July 1, 2019 for the season running through June 30, 2020. Note that the Barrymore Awards Ceremony in October 2019 will reflect the rules for the 2018-19 season, which ends June 30, 2019.

Our continued goal of the Barrymore Awards is to celebrate and promote professional theatre in the greater Philadelphia area, lifting up our diverse and growing theatre community. We intend for these changes to increase inclusion and representation in all stages of the process, from artists to adjudicators to audiences, with an aim to foster a truly inclusive and forward-looking awards program.

The changes for the 2019-20 Season include:

We learned that primary barriers to entry for Barrymore participation include length of production run and artist payment minimums. We are addressing these with the following changes:

  • Performance Minimums Reduction
    Productions may now offer as few as 6 public performances for Barrymore consideration, reduced from the 12 performances previously required.
  • Companies Led by Artists of Color Waiver
    We recognize that historic and systemic inequities offer companies with people of color in leadership positions fewer financial resources to accomplish their work. To that end, companies with POC leadership in artistic and board roles that have annual budgets under $100,000 may request a waiver to participate in the Barrymore awards should they be unable to meet artist pay minimums or other Barrymore eligibility requirements.

Over the 2019-20 Season, Theatre Philadelphia will review the overall payment minimum structure to ensure both fair pay for artists at producing companies, and access for companies facing barriers to meeting these minimums. We aim to announce a new payment minimum structure for the 2020-21 Season.

We will now have 28 Barrymore Judges (up from 12), divided into four distinct panels focused on Plays, Musicals, Design, and New Work. Moving to judging panels increases the capacity and focuses the energies of our Judges who are tasked with selecting the Nominees and recipients of our awards. The change will also reduce the number of productions each Judge will have to attend. Each panel includes 7 theatre professionals who will meet quarterly to discuss the work they’ve seen, and then at the close of the season to select the award Nominees. On average, Judges will see 20-50 plays per season, a projected decrease from the +75 productions our Judges have had to adjudicate in recent years.

The system maintains our two-tier system of judging, sending 8 Nominators from a total pool of 78 volunteers to a production early in the run to Recommend productions to the Judges. Producers will be informed of which panels will attend, offering more transparency on why a production is Recommended by our Nominators. The one exception to this system is with the New Works panel, who will attend each world premiere production in the Barrymore system regardless of Nominator Recommendation.

The Barrymore Oversight Committee continues its commitment to recruiting and selecting an adjudicator pool that reflects the demographics of our region, with our 2019-20 Season of Nominators and Judges are 43% POC, 61% Women, 33% LGBTQ+, and 8% transgender, gender non-conforming or gender non-binary. The 106 volunteers were selected from a group of 141 applicants.

Click Here to review the list of selected adjudicators for the 2019-20 Season.


All 28 Barrymore Judges will be offered a $200 stipend for the 2019-20 Season. Nominators and Judges who are caregivers for children will also be eligible for childcare funds raised specifically for Barrymore volunteers and administered by the Parent Artists Advocacy League. Both sets of stipends are steps towards fair compensation to recognize the work put in by our volunteers, and to reduce participation barriers in these key role of the Barrymore program.


To accommodate the judging panels, and to recognize the physical elements of work produced in Philadelphia, Outstanding Choreography/Movement will now split into two categories: Outstanding Movement in a Play and Outstanding Choreography in a Musical.

We have also implemented a new Outdoor Theatre Award to recognize professional theatre produced outdoors, often in formats that may fall out of our current eligibility requirements. Productions occurring from Memorial Day through September will be recognized at the Ceremony each fall, with the first Outstanding Outdoor Theatre Production award given at the October 2019 Ceremony. Follow the link for more information on Submitting Outdoor Productions and more.

With these updates, we will now have 20 unique artistic categories plus our four curated cash awards and Lifetime Achievement award. For the 2020 Ceremony, we will honor 30 individuals and companies with Barrymore Awards, and dozens more with Nominations.

Registration is now open for companies to Submit Productions to the 2019-20 Season, which begins July 1, 2019. Registration is $150 per production, and includes representation on Theatre Philadelphia's robust digital platforms.

Over 1.7 Million visitors come to each year to find information about our region’s theatrical work, with 195,000 direct clicks to buy tickets to productions. We recently calculated that the average Barrymore Recommended show receives 26% more clicks to buy tickets than other show listings. Over 13,000 individuals subscribe to our weekly email highlighting openings, closing, and Barrymore Recommendations.

The 2018-19 Barrymore Season featured 42 submitting companies and 119 productions, up from 31 companies and 88 shows in the 2013-14 Season when the Barrymores re-booted under Theatre Philadelphia’s purview.

For more details about the Barrymore Awards program and Theatre Philadelphia’s work, continue to visit

For their contributions to this work, we wish to thank the Barrymore Oversight Committee chaired by Rachel Camp; participants in our Barrymore Community Forums facilitated by Emily Wyner of Humblebee; Eligibility Subcommittee members Natalia de la Torre, Eliana Fabiyi, Dan O’Neil, Cat Ramirez, and LaNeshe Miller White; co-authors of the Companies of Color Waiver Akeem Davis and Daniel Perelstein; Programs Manager James Haro, Marketing Manager Katherine Clark, Intern Ang Bey, and the entire board of Theatre Philadelphia throughout the 2018-19 Season.