The production team that ensured the show could go on after part of a West End theatre ceiling collapsed and the revival of much-loved pop magazine Smash Hits are among the nominees for The Stage Awards 2020, in association with Integro Insurance Brokers.
The Stage has announced the shortlist for its annual awards, which includes the new Achievement in Technical Theatre award, sponsored by lighting solutions provider ETC, recognising the superb work going on behind the scenes in theatres and performances spaces all over the country.
The Young Vic production team has been nominated in the category for its “extraordinary” efforts in November. After part of the Piccadilly Theatre’s ceiling fell down during a performance of Death of a Salesman, the crew of the Young Vic – where the show had originated – leapt into action.
From being a construction site, the team built a 460-seat auditorium at its Southwark home. They put in and carpeted a new floor, built a stage, hung the lighting rig and brought in props from the West End venue. In less than 24 hours, the site was ready to host scratch performances of Death of a Salesman, which played to standing ovations.
They are up against the teams who put on two of the year’s most technically accomplished shows: Anna at the National Theatre and Life of Pi at Sheffield Theatres.
Many questioned how Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel could be effectively brought to the stage, but Sheffield Theatres pulled it off thrillingly. The production used state-of-the-art video projection to put audiences into the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and created a 44-pound tiger puppet that critics have called a worthy successor to War Horse.
For Anna, a play set in a glass box, sound designer brothers Ben and Max Ringham used binaural sound to convey the oppressive world of East Berlin in 1968, with audiences listening in through headphones. It was an example of how a team embraced technology that enhanced the storytelling.
The Innovation Award, sponsored by Charcoalblue, includes the savvy marketing by & Juliet, which re-created iconic pop magazine Smash Hits to introduce the new musical to potential audiences. Handed out free in London, it was a brilliant move, effectively using 1990s and early 2000s nostalgia to sell a show full of classic pop hits.
Also up for the award is Immersive LDN, a new venue for staging immersive theatre shows, and Artistic Directors of the Future for its committed work to diversify theatre boards and make real change throughout the industry.
The London Theatre of the Year category, sponsored by performing arts school LMA, sees Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the London Palladium all competing for the prize for the first time since the awards launched 10 years ago. For the Regional Theatre of the Year, Derby Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh and Sheffield Theatres have been nominated.
Editor of The Stage, Alistair Smith, said:
“Yet again we have a wonderful shortlist that celebrates the astonishing and varied achievements of theatremakers across the UK and beyond. Our nominees range from one of London’s largest, grandest and most historic theatres, the London Palladium, to the 75-seat Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle, which is only seven years old. There is excellence and innovation running throughout our shortlist – from the imaginative marketing campaign of new West End musical & Juliet to the daring and controversial work of Swiss director Milo Rau.”
The Stage Awards, in association with Integro Insurance Brokers Ltd, were set up to celebrate theatrical achievements in West End, regional, fringe and international theatre. The shortlist is decided by The Stage’s senior editorial team, following extensive consultation with leading figures in the theatre industry and a public nomination process. Winners will be announced on 31 January 2020 at a ceremony at the Royal Opera House.
Previous winners have included the National Theatre, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Sonia Friedman Productions, Hjinx Theatre Cardiff, Nottingham Playhouse and London’s Bush Theatre.
The Stage Awards 2020: Shortlist in full
Regional Theatre of the Year
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
London Theatre of the Year
Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
Theatre Royal Stratford East
The London Palladium
Fringe Theatre of the Year
Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle
Bunker Theatre, London
Orange Tree Theatre, London
Theatre Building of the Year
Boulevard Theatre, London
Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, London
Producer of the Year
Michael Harrison Entertainment
Coronet Theatre, London
& Juliet for its Smash Hits marketing campaign
Artistic Directors of the Future for its work to diversify theatre boards
Immersive LDN for providing a hub for immersive theatre in London
Achievement in Technical Theatre
Ben and Max Ringham, and the entire team of Anna at the National Theatre
Sheffield Theatres’ creative and production team for its work on Life of Pi
Young Vic’s production team for the scratch performances of Death of a Salesman
An Unsung Hero award, sponsored by Get Into Theatre (for which there is no shortlist) will also be announced at the ceremony.