PHOTOS: Emma Rice, Donmar Shakespeare & Our Ladies win inaugural Tonic Awards

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The winners were announced at the ceremony last night (29 March 2017) for the inaugural Tonic Awards, at the May Fair Theatre hosted by Jenni Murray DBE. The Awards were initiated to celebrate the achievements of game-changing women who are redefining theatre and the performing arts. The winners honoured at this evening’s event are: Rosemary Squire, Donmar Warehouse’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy, Emma Rice, Indhu Rubasingham, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Dawn Walton, Jenny Sealey, Anna Newell and Paula Constable.

Lucy Kerbel, Director of Tonic, said: 

“I am thrilled that our inaugural Tonic Awards have been so warmly embraced by the industry. There is clearly a great desire for the contributions women are making to theatre to be recognised more widely and for them to be rightly celebrated for their achievements. I’m delighted that the Tonic Awards can form just part of this.”

The recipients of this year’s awards are:

ROSEMARY SQUIRE OBE, presented by Sonia Friedman OBE

Until recently Rosemary Squire was the co-owner and joint CEO of the Ambassador Theatre Group, a company that she co-founded with her husband, Sir Howard Panter. Starting with just one venue and reportedly running the business from the back seat of her car, ATG grew to be the global leader in live theatre, owning and operating over 40 venues worldwide as well as producing award-winning live theatre.

Phyllida Lloyd, Harriet Walter DBE and Kate Pakenham for the all-female SHAKESPEARE TRILOGY (Donmar Warehouse and beyond), presented by Tanya Moodie

In 2012, Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production of Julius Caesar stunned audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and challenged the idea of ‘who owns Shakespeare?’ Two further productions (Henry IV and The Tempest) staged as a trilogy in rep have served to remind us how genuine diversity on stage challenges us to look at things differently; whether we are creating it, performing in it or watching it.

EMMA RICE, presented by Tanika Gupta, Globe Associate Artist

Emma Rice is honoured for her achievements in her first season as Artistic Director at Shakespeare’s Globe. Under her stewardship the stages of the Globe came to life with productions that were bold, brilliant and joyous. The proof of the pudding was in the audience numbers: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth played to 98% capacity and the remainder of the season at 93%.

INDHU RUBASINGHAM MBE, presented by Adrian Lester OBE

In 2012 Indhu Rubasingham became Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre, a post that she still holds today where she is currently overseeing a major capital project, alongside her work as a director. From her early days at the Theatre Royal Stratford East working as an assistant director on an Arts Council bursary, she has worked at venues across the county. She is passionate about diversity and what theatre can deliver to the local community and young people in particular – as seen with her initiatives Minding the Gap and Tricycle Takeover.

Vicky Featherstone, the National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre for OUR LADIES OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR (Traverse Theatre Glasgow and beyond) presented by Lucy Kerbel

Based on the 1998 novel, The Sopranos by Alan Warner, Our Ladies has been adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. Set over the course of a single day, the book follows a group of catholic schoolgirls from Oban let loose in the capital. With its all-female cast of six actors playing feisty young women on the brink of adulthood who in turn sing like angels, the show is a glorious anthem to friendship, youth and growing up disgracefully.

DAWN WALTON, presented by Karena Johnson

Dawn Walton is the Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre, Britain’s principal Black-led national touring company however she is specifically honoured for her leadership of Eclipse’s Revolution Mix programme, which, taking place between 2015 and 2018, is the largest ever national delivery of Black British stories produced and performed in regional theatres. Her work with Revolution Mix has the potential to be game-changing in terms of how the Black British experience is depicted. 

JENNY SEALEY, presented by Harriet Walter DBE

Jenny Sealey has been Artistic Director of the Graeae Theatre Company since 1997. Under her leadership, Graeae has been at the forefront of challenging our preconceptions about disability theatre and Sealey has been its champion, especially when it comes to encouraging disabled actors’ participation in creative roles. In her own words about Romeo and Juliet ‘Shakespeare did not say whether Juliet was or wasn’t deaf, or blind, or disabled, so excuse me, we can be in any goddamn Shakespeare play that we want to be.’

ANNA NEWELL, presented by Moira Buffini

Anna Newell is known for her creative productions which prioritise marginalised audiences; for her innovative use of performance spaces that create ideal conditions for audiences who, either from age or ability, have slower cognitive processing; for staging portable performances which ensures her work is seen by the most disadvantaged families in Northern Ireland and for transforming our understanding of the positive impact theatre can have right from the day we are born.

PAULE CONSTABLE, presented by Bryan Raven, MD of White Light

Paule Constable is one of the UK’s leading lighting designers – a trail-blazing woman who is leading the field in an industry that, more than many others, remains dominated by men. The productions she has lit across theatre, opera and dance are too numerous to name as are the awards she has won over the last two decades – which include 4 Oliviers, 3 LA Critics’ Circle Awards, 2 Tonys, 2 New York Critics’ Award and 2 New York Drama Desk Awards.

Attending the ceremony tonight were senior figures from across the UK theatre industry including Lisa Burger (Executive Director of the National Theatre), Daniel Evans (Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre), Jessica Swale (Olivier award-winning playwright) and Fiona Thomas (VP of Live Entertainment for Disney Theatricals).

Rosemary Squire (right) with Sonia Friedman

Indhu Rubasingham with Adrian Lester


Harriet Walter and Jenny Sealey


Emma Rice (right) with Tanika Gupta


Dawn Walton with Karena Johnson


Members of the Donmar Shakespeare company


Anna Newell with Moira Buffini


Tonic’s Lucy Kerbel (centre) with Our Ladies’ Lee Hall and Vicky Featherstone


Paule Constable with White Light’s Bryan Raven

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MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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