Guidance for Offies Assessors

This webpage provides general guidance for Offies assessors.  Below are some general points for assessors to bear in mind, and the following are links to separate webpages that provide guidance on the individual award categories:

ASSESSOR SCHEDULE

Click on the link below to access the assessor spreadsheet where you can add your name as an assessor for specific shows.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RAMKvUwEeqgEP6yzB-TuAFPEdoZBBajH/edit#gid=474858055

ASSESSMENT FORM

Right click on owe offies assessment template 2022 v2 to download the latest Assessment Form.

SUBMIT YOUR IMAGES / VIDEOS

Click on the button below to send us your images and/or videos from your assessment visit:

Your mission!

Being an assessor is a privilege and a responsibility. It is not simply a way to get free tickets to watch shows you want to watch.

Winning an Offie increasingly means a lot to the actors and practitioners on the fringe slogging it out on a shoestring trying to hone their craft, desperate for encouragement and recognition.

We announce the finalists every January and the winners every year at an Awards Ceremony every February / March (usually live, though online in 2021 & 2022 due to the Covid pandemic) and the announcements of finalists and winners are clearly a big deal in terms of raising the profile of all independent theatres in London.

When you nominate, theatres proudly publish the nomination online, display their awards or certificates in their foyers and actors include the nomination in their biographies for years to come.

Therefore, please follow this guidance with care and have a wonderful time seeing some of the vast range of work on London’s Off West End.

During the Performance

It may be useful to perform a mental check, during the performance, against the various categories for which the production might be eligible, e.g. performance, writing, design, direction.  It is recognised that it is easy to become absorbed in a production, or focussed on a brilliant performances, and forget to check the full range of potential categories.

Submit within 24 hours

Having seen the show, you are required to submit your assessment within 24 hours.

Sending your assessment in quickly is imperative, as the Administrator can’t send it on to the Super Assessors (SAs) until both assessments are received and all nominations agreed (and if all this takes a week, it’s a week the SAs lose thus minimising the show’s chances of being seen and of winning at the end of the year)

Your Assessment

Please be as descriptive as you can as your assessment will be passed on to the SAs to explain why they need to go too in order to weigh up whether they should win in that category at the end of the year. 

If you are nominating, you must ensure that every nomination gets a paragraph detailing the reasons for the nomination. If you do submit a paragraph for each nomination, the nomination may NOT be taken forward.

Be reassured, your assessment will never be seen by anyone outside the Assessors, Super Assessors and our Critics Panel.

Please remember that you are assessing whether your nominee for the production you are seeing could win an award. Your judgement is whether it is great and ground-breaking, not just good or commendable!

Please be critical. There are a lot of talented people around and, as much as we’d like to support all of them, we cannot. We are not looking for good and we’re not even looking for great any more. We are looking for outstanding – if not once-in-a lifetime really special nominees. Before nominating someone, ask yourself – if this person wins this award, will I feel proud for nominating them or slightly embarrassed? Would I tell all my friends and colleagues to buy tickets to see this? If you would gladly stand by this person being the best this year, please do nominate them.

There is no rule to use any particular type of assessment and an explanatory paragraph in your own words to validate your nomination is quite sufficient.

You could ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • What impressed you the most about the nominee in respect of the category for which you are nominating them?
  • What did the nominee contribute to your overall experience of the performance?
  • If relevant, did the nominee create any added drama and help bring the story to life?
  • Was there anything that struck you as surprising, different or clever?
  • How would you argue for or defend your nomination?

Sometimes it can help to try and quantify your views using a scoring system – for example, you could score your nominee out of 5 for each of Originality, Complexity, Story-Telling and Competency.  This would give a total out of 20 – if it scores less than 15, it’s not good enough to be nominated.

Include any additional notes on your reasons for nominating and highlight the ‘magic moments’ that support your view that this nominee, in this category, stood out.

Many assessors write their assessment immediately after the show, sleep on it and then check they feel the same the next morning before sending it in

If you are blown away by the show and want to nominate in (almost) every relevant category, think about aggregating the nominations under PRODUCTION with perhaps only a few extra in those areas which you felt were really exceptional.

If there’s only one aspect of a show that you think may merit an award, in an otherwise mediocre production, think carefully about whether you should be subjecting a super-assessor to sitting through it for the sake of that one nomination: they have plenty of other shows to see and unless you are convinced this is an absolute knock-down winner, maybe it’s better to keep your powder dry.

You will never be over-ruled because we trust your judgment but, if there is a disagreement between the two assessors, both will be sent each other’s assessments and you will have the opportunity to discuss which nominations should go forward. You have every right to argue for your original nominations but it is an opportunity to consider whether you would stand by each one as so outstanding you would expect them to win.

Park your prejudices!

It may so happen that you find yourself at a production, the content of which is profoundly not to your liking.

This may be because (for example) the storyline or script is poor, or maybe the show presents a sympathetic view upon a political perspective with which you profoundly disagree.

Whilst such situations do arise (more often than you may care to expect!), it is important to still park your prejudices, and remember that you are there to assess across a wide range of categories.

An Example:

So let’s assume that the writer has written a play that seeks to present a sympathetic view of Donald Trump (or Hilary Clinton, take your pick), but it’s a play which you profoundly dislike.

By all means do not nominate it for its writing. BUT…If the actor playing Trump or Hilary is actually giving an excellent portrayal of the character in question, then you should find it in yourself to step away from your personal prejudices and dislikes, and recognise the acting excellence (or creative talent, whatever it may be, perhaps the production includes a stunningly imaginative recreation of the Oval Office!) on display.

10 Commandments for an Assessor

1.           Thou shalt be professional and positive

When you assess, you cannot help but be perceived as an ambassador for The Offies and therefore your behaviour will be a reflection on all your fellow assessors, on the Panel and on the founders of the awards – please behave professionally, discreetly and positively at all times.

2.           Thou shalt be (and be seen to be) objective

Never assess a show where you may be perceived to have a conflict of interests (e.g. you are related to the producer, you are hoping to get work from the director, you are sleeping with the press person etc.) – we know you can rise above and still be objective and we know there are checks and balances throughout the process, but others won’t know and gossip will spread tarnishing the objectivity of the awards as well as your reputation.

3.           Thou shalt be proud to be independent

You will usually attend on press night and will, therefore, not be influenced by reviews when you nominate – do read the reviews later but do not feel put off if every professional critic in town disagrees with you!

4.           Thou shalt be discreet

Some assessors prefer to remain anonymous but, if you are known to the cast and creatives, then behave like a professional theatre critic and do not comment on the production (to anyone other than your fellow assessor) until you have written your assessment. Be aware, especially on Press Night, that you may very well be overheard. We advise you to say “I am still processing the play…” or “I’m sorry I can’t tell you what I think until I have written my report…”

5.           Thou shalt be rational

Try to think through and express the reasons for any nominations rather than just saying “I really liked this”.   It will help the Super Assessors and the judging panel to understand why this aspect of the production is special and improve the chances of your choice winning an award.  Don’t feel shy about contacting your fellow assessor before the show and comparing notes afterwards.  Not every assessor likes to collaborate, but many find it helpful as a way of focusing their thoughts and maybe understanding the other point of view if there is a difference of opinion.  It’s often educational and we’re all very friendly!

6.           Thou shalt be prompt

Never arrive late: always double-check the time of the show especially as Press Nights are often earlier/different from the regular time.  Always get your assessment in within 24 hours to GB.

7.           Thou shalt respect thine identity

Always ask for and pick up the SAM OFFIE ticket otherwise the Press Officer will think you haven’t bothered and complain to us that the assessors haven’t turned up, we don’t care, we’re disorganized, etc.  If you are not planning to pick up the ticket because you are going to the show anyway or reviewing for another organisation then please let GB know so that he can tell the Press Officer to release the ticket and keep a ‘bible’ on who went where, should we be challenged.

8.           Thou shalt not cancel

Try never to cancel but, if you really can’t attend, please let the Administrator know immediately so that she can replace you otherwise you are wasting a ticket that the theatre could have sold or given to someone else – we are about supporting these cash-strapped venues, not costing them money and getting ourselves a bad name!

9.           Thou shalt not leave early

Even if it’s the biggest load of rubbish you have ever seen… unless you are about to faint or be sick!

10.         Thou shalt take time to consider

Many assessors write their assessment immediately after the show, sleep on it and then check they feel the same the next morning before sending it in.