More than eighteen months of theater closures have brought an end to the San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle’s annual “Excellence in Theater” awards gala, usually celebrated in late March for the previous calendar year. The band hasn’t held a live gala since 2019.

The SFBATCC will also not be hosting a live gala this year, opting instead to combine the first quarter of 2020 and the second half of 2021 into a single season for awards purposes.

The group’s 45th “Excellence in Theater” awards will once again be a virtual event this year. The nominees will be announced at the end of March and the winners will be announced by mid-April, according to Harry Duke, chief information officer of the SFBATCC.

“Our members are required to enter their nomination information into our database within a reasonable time after attending a performance so that we have all the necessary data,” Duke said. “We have merged the databases for 2020 and 2021 and the calculation process to determine the candidates has begun.”

SFBATCC’s 45th “Excellence in Theater” awards will be the first to eliminate the gender distinction in performance categories. Prizes will be awarded for lead and featured performances in dramas, comedies and musicals. The Ensemble Award will now be presented in these three divisions as well.

Theater companies have reopened with close attention to the vaccination status of performers and audiences, particularly in North Bay, with the rest of the region gradually returning to a normal production schedule.

“If the recovery continues, we hope that by this time in 2023 we will be preparing for a return to a live gala,” said SFBATCC President Barry Willis. The Circle website will be regularly updated to inform the entire Bay Area theater community.

The SFBATCC is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization dedicated to promoting and serving theaters of all types and sizes in the greater region by recognizing excellence and outstanding achievement in the field. Active since 1976, the circle consists of critics covering theater in the nine counties of the Bay Area, through various media, who are elected by existing members based on the quality and consistency of their reviews, as well only members who, through their participation in the community as directors, designers, performers, members of the non-reviewing media, etc., bring an additional level of critical perspective and experience or other theater-related background to the Circle.