Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards 2017

Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards 2017 Partnership and personal accountability were the overriding themes dominating the 21st Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, sponsored by The Irish Times, and its new associate partner, TileStyle, at the National Concert Hall on Sunday, February 25th. A night of no real shocks, and very few surprises, the ceremony captured a snapshot of the joys and challenges currently facing Irish theatre. A night which saw much delight, many questions, and lots of celebrations, with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, and Prime Cut Productions, co-production Red, taking home several major awards, including Best Production, Best Actor, and Best Director. Once again, gender was very much to the forefront of the ceremony. The all-female judging panel of Ella Daly, Catriona Crowe, and Paula Shields might have spoken more to gender redress than to balance, but they also served as a reminder that real balance is far from being achieved when it comes to women in theatre. #WakingTheFeminists might have resulted in some favorable changes over the past twelve months, yet when it comes to safety and dignity in the workplace, there’s still a way to go. A sentiment Special Tribute Award recipient Eleanor Methven addressed head on, reminding those present that respect for others is not just about policies and procedures, but about personal accountability. The lack of which, the “elephant in the room,” was seen embodied in the Board of the Gate’s unpopular decision not to publish findings of its own investigation into claims of harassment against its former artistic director, for various legal reasons. A lack of transparency current artistic director, Selina Cartmell, receiving the award for Best Costume Design on behalf of designer Peter O’Brien for The Great Gatsby, promised she would personally seek to eradicate going forward. For some it was a start. For others the Board’s decision only adds insult to injury. For all, Cartmell acquitted herself impressively, showing courage and a steely grace on stage, in what must have been a challenging circumstance. If partnerships became something of a recurring motif, the partnership of Clare Barrett and Amy Conroy as joint emcees proved to be the best partnership of all. Smart, clever, funny and engaging, Barrett and Conroy hit just the right tone of light and edgy throughout, with Conroy delighting with a blow-up elephant she carried under her arm. Indeed, on the evidence of the night, Conroy and Barrett well deserve to be installed as permanent hosts. A few curiosities aside - Hamnet winning nothing and the practice of several nominees being double nominated for two productions, and often winning – nothing could detract from the emcees infectious humour ensuring the awards were a genuinely celebratory occasion. Lyric Theatre Director, Jimmy Fay, may have struck a bum note near the end with a remark on the dominance of Dublin theatre, a comment that seemed doubly strange given Belfast’s dominance of the major awards on the night, but Fay, along with many others, brought home the immense difficulties facing the arts in Northern Ireland in light of horrendous cutbacks, as well as the vital importance of cross border partnerships with the impending arrival of Brexit. While everyone delighted in unfunded, young company Reality: Check Production’s ecstatic acceptance of the first of two new categories, Best Ensemble Award, youth proved to be the exception rather than the rule, generally losing out to experience. Dance also lost out again this year, most notably by its absence. Something many alluded to, including Laura Murphy, winner in the second of the two newly created categories created this year, Best Movement Direction. If this new award sought to serve as appeasement, it fell short in a year that saw Emma Martin’s sublime Girl Song, and the superb Soldier Still by Junk Ensemble, to name but two, gracing the Dublin Theater Festival and Dublin Fringe Festivals respectively. All of which risked making the Best Movement Direction Award seem, at best, like a sluggish step in the right direction, or, at worst, tokenism. Granted, there are logistical issues involved (additional shows to be seen, finding judges with relevant expertise), yet dance deserves to be represented amongst its peers, and partners, in the same way Opera is deservedly represented, on Irish theatre’s most prestigious night acknowledging excellence and achievement in performance. Heartfelt congratulations to all winners and nominees. As Gerard McNaughton, Retail Director of TileStyle and a serious candidate for a Best Speech award had there been one, succinctly put it, the hope going forward is for “theatre practitioners and artists who continue to push boundaries, reinvent and develop their crafts.” BEST PRODUCTION Red a Prime Cut and Lyric Theatre coproduction of John Logan’s play. Other nominees Far Away a Corcadorca production of Caryl Churchill’s play Hamnet a Dead Centre and Abbey Theatre coproduction of Bush Moukarzel, Ben Kidd and William Shakespeare’s play Woyzeck in Winter a Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival co-production, based on Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck and Franz Schubert’s Wintereisse, conceived by Conall Morrison BEST NEW PLAY The Same by Enda Walsh, produced by Corcadorca Other nominees Hamnet by Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd, produced by Dead Centre and the Abbey Theatre Charlie’s a Clepto by Clare Monnelly, produced by Axis Ballymun Class by Iseult Golden and David Horan, produced by Iseult Golden and David Horan BEST DIRECTOR Emma Jordan for Prime Cut and Lyric Theatre’s coproduction of Red, by John Logan Other nominees Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd for Dead Centre and the Abbey’s coproduction of Hamnet by Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd Garry Hynes for Druid’s production of King of the Castle by Eugene McCabe Enda Walsh for Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera’s coproduction of The Second Violinist, by Enda Walsh and Donnacha Dennehy BEST ACTRESS Catherine Walsh for her role as Lisa, and Eileen Walsh for her role as Lisa in Corcadorca’s production of The Same, by Enda Walsh Other nominees Katie Honan for her role as Eli in Let the Right One In, adapted by Jack Thorne, in a production by the National Theatre of Scotland by arrangement with Marla Rubin Productions and Bill Kenwright, in association with the Abbey Theatre Clare Monnelly for her role as Charlie in Axis Ballymun’s production of Charlie’s a Clepto, by Clare Monnelly BEST ACTOR Patrick O’Kane for his role as Rothko in Prime Cut and Lyric Theatre’s coproduction of Red, by John Logan, and his role as Woyzeck in Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival’s coproduction of Woyzeck in Winter Other nominees Ollie West for his role as Hamnet in Dead Centre and the Abbey Theatre’s coproduction of Hamnet, by Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd Shane O’Regan for his role as Tommo in Pemberley Productions and Verdant Productions’ coproduction of Private Peaceful, adapted by Simon Reade from Michael Morpurgo’s novel Aaron Monaghan for his role as Martin in Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera’s coproduction of The Second Violinist by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Rosaleen Linehan for her role as Hurdy Gurdy Man in Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival’s coproduction of Woyzeck in Winter, and for her role as Mags in the Gate Theatre production of The Red Shoes, in a new version by Nancy Harris Other nominees Marion O’Dwyer for her role as Mrs. Nugent in the Gate Theatre production of The Red Shoes, in a new version by Nancy Harris Clare Dunne for her role as Sylvia in the Gate Theatre production of Tribes, by Nina Raine Caitríona Ennis for several roles in the Abbey Theatre production of Ulysses, adapted by Dermot Bolger, and for her role as Maggie in Corn Exchange’s production of Dublin by Lamplight BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Marty Rea for his role as Nick Carraway in the Gate Theatre production of The Great Gatsby and for his role as Jemmy Maguire in Druid Theatre Company’s production of King of the Castle by Eugene McCabe Other nominees Thomas Finnegan for his role as Ken in Prime Cut Productions and the Lyric Theatre’s coproduction of Red, by John Logan Mark Huberman for his role as Tom Buchanan in the Gate Theatre’s production of The Great Gatsby, adapted by Alexander Wright Robbie O’Connor for his role as Christy in Anu Productions’ staging of Hentown BEST ENSEMBLE Reality:Check Productions Gemma Kane, Honi Cooke, Ethan Dillon, Gordon Quigley, Meg Healy, Michael-David McKernan and Toni O’Rourke’s for their staging of Disco Pigs and Sucking Dublin by Enda Walsh Other nominees Siobhán Cullen, Kate Stanley Brennan and Amy McElhatton in Druid’s production of Crestfall, by Mark O’Rowe Louis Lovett, Karen Egan, Gus McDonagh, Paul Reid, Colin Campbell, Caitríona Ennis and Frank Blake in the Abbey Theatre’s presentation of Corn Exchange’s production of Dublin by Lamplight, by Michael West in collaboration with the company Bryan Burroughs, Faoileann Cunningham, Caitríona Ennis, Donal Gallery, Raymond Keane, Janet Moran, Garrett Lombard and David Pearse in the Abbey Theatre’s production of Ulysses, adapted by Dermot Bolger BEST OPERA The Second Violinist a Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera coproduction; composed by Donnacha Dennehy; libretto by Enda Walsh Other nominees Acis and Galatea an Opera Theatre Company production of Handel’s work Front of House a Ulysses Opera Theatre and Cork Opera House coproduction; composed by Tom Lane; libretto by Lily Akerman Dubliners a Wexford Festival Opera and Opera Theatre Company coproduction; composed by Andrew Synnott, libretto by Arthur Riordan, adapted from James Joyce’s Dubliners BEST MOVEMENT DIRECTION Laura Murphy for Bram Stoker Festival’s production of Whitby, by Joan Sheehy and Colin Dunne Other nominees Dylan Quinn for the Prime Cut Productions and Lyric Theatre coproduction of Red, by John Logan Vicky Manderson for the Abbey Theatre’s production of Jimmy’s Hall Steven Hoggett and Eddie Kay for the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Let the Right One In, by arrangement with Marla Rubin Productions and Bill Kenwright, in association with the Abbey Theatre BEST SET DESIGN Ciarán Bagnall for Prime Cut Productions and the Lyric Theatre’s coproduction of Red, by John Logan, and the Gate Theatre production of The Great Gatsby Other nominees Paul O’Mahony for Opera Theatre Company’s production of Acis and Galatea and for the Everyman Theatre production of Futureproof, by Lynda Radley Jamie Vartan for Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival’s coproduction of Woyzeck in Winter and for Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera’s coproduction of The Second Violinist Andrew Clancy and José Miguel Jiménez for Dead Centre and the Abbey Theatre’s coproduction of Hamnet, by Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd BEST LIGHTING DESIGN Aedín Cosgrove and Paul Keogan for Corcadorca’s production of Far Away, by Caryl Churchill Other nominees Ben Ormerod for Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival’s coproduction of Woyzeck in Winter Ciarán Bagnall for Prime Cut Productions and the Lyric Theatre’s coproduction of Red, by John Logan, and for the Gate Theatre production of The Great Gatsby Matt Frey for Corn Exchange’s production of Dublin by Lamplight, by Michael West in association with the company BEST COSTUME DESIGN Peter O’Brien for the Gate Theatre production of The Great Gatsby Other nominees Joan O’Clery for Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival’s coproduction of Woyzeck in Winter Annemarie Woods for Northern Ireland Opera’s production of Radamisto, by Handel Hannah Clark for Northern Ireland Opera’s production of Così Fan Tutte, by Mozart BEST SOUNDSCAPE (formerly Best Sound Design, amended to recognise the wide variety of music and sound design elements that appear in modern Irish theatrical productions) Mel Mercier for Corcadorca’s production of Far Away, by Caryl Churchill Other nominees Alan Darcy for the Abbey Theatre’s production of Two Pints, by Roddy Doyle Tom Lane for Bram Stoker Festival’s production of Whitby, by Joan Sheehy and Colin Dunne Ben Delaney for the Abbey Theatre’s production of Jimmy’s Hall JUDGES’ SPECIAL AWARD Abbey Theatre for Free First Previews, an innovative measure that offers a broader audience increased access to the National Theatre Other nominees Rough Magic for the SEEDS programme, a far-sighted initiative in 2001, and its contribution to wide-ranging professional development in the theatre sector Corcadorca for its commitment to bringing theatre and audiences to unusual locations, the latest of which are old Cork prison in The Same and Spike Island in Far Away Bewley’s Cafe Theatre for providing space and support for lunchtime theatre in the heart of Dublin city since 1999 SPECIAL TRIBUTE Eleanor Methven for challenging inequalities in Irish theatre, creating opportunities for positive change and, as a performer, always seeking richer ways to tell a story AUDIENCE AWARD Hentown by Anu Productions Voted for by Irish Times readers in an online poll Here’s to an even greater 2018. #IrishTimesIrishTheatreAwards2017 #Article

© 2016 Chris O'Rourke