Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre and Dundee Repertory Theatre, two of Scotland’s leading building-based companies, have emerged as the leaders at this year’s Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, with the venues taking home six out of the ten prizes between them.
The Traverse Theatre, which received ten nominations in this year’s shortlists, took Best New Play for the third year running and Best Production for Ursula Rani Sarma’s The Dark Things, while Sian Thomas received the award for Best Female Performance for her role in The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?.
Dundee Rep’s The Elephant Man was successful in three categories including Best Director for Jemima Levick, an award for which she has received two previous nominations. Kevin Lennon took Best Male Performance for his role as John Merrick in the same play, while Alex Lowde (set) and Colin Grenfell (lighting) were presented with the award for Best Design– marking the fourth year in a row that Dundee Rep has been successful in this category.
Nominated for the first time, all-inclusive theatre company Lung Ha’s won the Best Ensemble award for Huxley’s Lab, a co-production with Grid Iron which ran as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. The National Theatre of Scotland’s Mr Write was named Best Production for Children and Young People, a title that the company previously won in 2006 for Home: East Lothian. Best Technical Presentation went to Perth Theatre for Jane Eyre, while Alistair Macrae took the award for Best Use of Music and Sound for The Government Inspector, a co-production by Communicado Theatre Company and the Tron Theatre.
Now in its eighth year, the awards presentation took place on Sunday 13 June during a glittering ceremony hosted by special guests Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, and much-loved actress and comedienne Karen Dunbar, at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. Firmly established as a highlight in the theatrical calendar, the event was attended by some of the leading figures in Scottish theatre, as well as enthusiastic members of the public who joined in the celebrations.
Co-convenor, Mark Fisher, said: “With such a strong line-up of nominations, the CATS ceremony was sure to go with a swing and we were delighted with just what a lively occasion it was. The only shame is that everyone couldn't be a winner, because there was so much talent in the room. And we know that was just the tip of the iceberg in another great year for theatre in Scotland.
“This year, we were particularly pleased to welcome STV, Guy Robertson Partnership, Northern Light, and W&P Longreach as sponsors of individual awards, as well as being grateful for the invaluable support of the Mackintosh Foundation, Appetite Direct, Inverarity and The List and, of course, our generous hosts the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.”
The CATS judging panel is made up of 11 Scottish theatre critics: Mary Brennan (The Herald), Mark Brown (The Sunday Herald and the Daily Telegraph), Neil Cooper (The Herald), Michael Cox (onstagescotland.co.uk), Shona Craven (onstagescotland.co.uk), Robert Dawson Scott (The Times), Thom Dibdin (Edinburgh Evening News and The Stage), Mark Fisher (The Guardian), Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), Gareth K Vile (The Skinny) and Joy Watters (The Courier). For further information on the CATS visit www.criticsawards.theatrescotland.com.
CATS winners 2009-2010
BEST MALE PERFORMANCE: sponsored by Guy Robertson Partnership:
- Kevin Lennon as John Merrick, The Elephant Man, Dundee Rep
Theatre critic for The Herald, Neil Cooper, said: “It’s easy for an actor to elicit audience sympathy when playing the grotesque, but without recourse either to overpowering prosthetics or a set of method acting tics, Kevin Lennon transformed the title role of The Elephant Man into a sad but dignified figure. Where others might turn such an iconic figure as John Merrick into a dribbling fool, Lennon’s study is a sensitive but utterly unsentimental depiction of a man sidelined by society. Lennon’s Merrick is a natural wallflower, a mature and tender study of human frailty and artistic and intellectual sensibilities that are played with an understated but all too real sense of the man behind what most presumed to be a monster.”
BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE: sponsored by STV
- Sian Thomas as Stevie, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Traverse Theatre
Theatre critic for The Sunday Herald and Daily Telegraph, Mark Brown, said: “Sian Thomas’s performance as the brutally cuckolded Stevie achieved, like Albee’s play itself, something truly unlikely and paradoxical, namely to be, simultaneously, grotesquely comic and genuinely, powerfully tragic. At the moment when her character’s husband, Martin, compares his love for a goat to their loving marriage, she expresses the shuddering pain and rage of a latter day Medea.”
- Huxley's Lab, Grid Iron/Lung Ha's
Theatre critic for The Evening News and The Stage, Thom Dibdin, said: “Huxley's lab was an adroitly pitched production which not only contained consistent and strong performances from every member of the ensemble, but used the different strengths of each actor to help tell its story. From big crowd scenes, to site-specific set pieces and interactive moments in the promenade performance, every single performer helped maintain the audience's belief in the truth of this immersive piece of work.”
- Jemima Levick, The Elephant Man, Dundee Rep
Theatre critic for www.onstagescotland.co.uk, Michael Cox, said: “In a year filled with excellent directional concepts, Jemima Levick’s work on Dundee Rep’s The Elephant Man was the notable stand-out. With elaborate detail to style and atmosphere, Levick not only directed a remarkable production but also created a tapestry of arresting images that added depth to each performance, along with the overall plot. The result was an impressive mixture of artistry and confidence filled with imagination and poignancy.”
- Alex Lowde (set) and Colin Grenfell (lighting), The Elephant Man, Dundee Rep
Theatre critic for The Courier, Joy Watters, said: “Designer Alex Lowde has created a perfect set, dark and foreboding as the story it supports, with its vast metallic structure filling the stage. Its walkways echo the constant footfall of an institution, framing the golden hazy curtains which open and close round Merrick's hospital room cum gilded cage.”
BEST USE OF MUSIC AND SOUND:
- Alasdair Macrae, The Government Inspector, Tron Theatre/Communicado
Theatre critic for The Skinny, Gareth K Vile, said: “The nominations for Best Use of Music and Sound demonstrate the diversity of approaches within contemporary Scottish theatre. From a unique take on the musical to a thirteen hour promenade performance, Scottish companies have displayed the range of ways in which music is often at the core of the theatrical experience. Alasdair Macrae, in the Government Inspector, led the cast in a series of musical interludes that added to the play's atmosphere of Russian corruption and jovial comedy. The cast revealed their musical skills with casual ease: while Macrae managed to find the perfect accompaniment to this feel-good satire.”
BEST TECHNICAL PRESENTATION, sponsored by Northern Light:
- Jane Eyre, Perth Theatre
Theatre critic for The Times, Robert Dawson Scott, said: “For sheer controlled discipline on a conventional stage, managing a complex two-tier set, aerial work, dance work, wandering musicians and the most convincing collapsing set I can remember, when Rochester's Gothic pile at Thornfield Hall burns down, Perth Theatre's back stage team did a brilliant job.”
BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE:
- Mr Write, National Theatre of Scotland
Theatre critic for The Herald, Mary Brennan, said: “Rob Drummond’s Mr Write – part of a three-play, teen-friendly package staged by the National Theatre of Scotland – really went out on a bold limb by using unscripted material from the young audience to create an instant drama. If ever there was a way to make theatre relevant to teenagers, this surely was it – it had their input at its very heart.”
BEST NEW PLAY, sponsored by W&P Longreach:
- Ursula Rani Sarma, The Dark Things, Traverse Theatre
CATS co-convenor and theatre critic for The Scotsman, Joyce McMillan, said: “Ursula Rani Sarma's The Dark Things is a thrilling new play for our time that deals with vital themes of voyeurism, sensationalism, and sexual confusion in contemporary society, and does it by developing both a powerful, fractured narrative and a series of unforgettable characters. It's the sort of play that takes courage both to write and to perform, and Dominic Hill's Traverse production was superb in every way, illuminated by a range of performances that did full justice to a wonderful, complex and disturbing play.”
- The Dark Things, Traverse Theatre
CATS co-convenor and theatre critic for The Guardian, Mark Fisher, said: “The Dark Things presented not only an arresting script by Ursua Rani Sarma about the alienation of a cruel world, but also a strikingly good set of performances, great design and forceful direction by Dominic Hill. It wins the award for Best Production against formidable competition, not least from the Traverse Theatre itself.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
CATS organisers would like to thank The Mackintosh Foundation, the charity set up by theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh to promote and develop theatrical, musical and dramatic arts, for its recent pledge of £3,000 over three years to support the prestigious event. In addition, technical services company Northern Light, advertising and design agency Guy Robertson Partnership and insurance specialists W&P Longreach have each donated £500 a year until 2012 to support the individual awards for Best Technical Presentation, Best Male Performance and Best New Play, while media company STV has pledged £500 a year for five years to support the award for Best Female Performance. The ceremony was sponsored by catering company Appetite Direct, independent wine merchant Inverarity One to One and arts and entertainments publication The List.
Issued by the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh on behalf of the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland. For further press information or images please contact Ruth Findlay on 0131 622 8088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.