Winners of The Stage Awards 2022, in association with Tysers Insurance Brokers, were announced at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London today, on Monday, January 31.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London won Theatre Building of the Year, sponsored by Concord Theatricals, following its magnificent £60 million refurbishment, led by architects Haworth Tompkins. Staggeringly beautiful, the Lane – as it is affectionately referred to – is a gift to Theatreland and to future generations of theatregoers.
Two new categories were added to this year’s ceremony to reflect the way British theatre has responded to a changing world.
The National Theatre’s reimagined filmed production of Romeo and Juliet, starring Jessie Buckley, Josh O’Connor, Adrian Lester and Tamsin Greig, won Digital Project of the Year, sponsored by ETC, and has been seen by more than 300,000 people.
Meanwhile, Company Three’s When This is Over won Community Project of the Year, sponsored by Evolution Productions. Created to coincide with the United Nations’ climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, this project was praised by the judges as “an impressive, ambitious and truly collaborative attempt to amplify the voices of teenagers at a time of great change.” Almost 50 groups in total from as far as the US, Canada and New Zealand have joined the project to date, which has already seen productions in Manchester, Plymouth, Reading and West Lothian, with 40 more scheduled in 2022.
In another category that recognised theatre’s response to climate change, the Theatre Green Book, led by the Association of British Theatre Technicians, the Theatres Trust, engineering consultants Buro Happold and theatre architect Paddy Dillon to improve theatre’s environmental sustainability took home this year’s Innovation Award, sponsored by Charcoalblue. Moulded by the expertise of hundreds of freelancers, theatre staff and organisations, this progressive response to the climate emergency is the first of its kind to offer guidance, priorities and targets at a range of levels.
Two theatres were recognised with the new prestigious Theatre of the Year accolade, sponsored by Cabbells. Battersea Arts Centre in London was praised for introducing a radical pay-what-you-can ticket pricing model on every performance and its partnership in the Co-Creating Change network, which awarded nearly £150,000 for projects looking to create lasting change in underserved communities around the UK. Meanwhile, Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury also took home the title for its extraordinary engagement projects with artists and audiences this year, including Projekt Europa – a new residency that developed three new projects with migrant artists and Kent communities – and Catalyst for Culture, which saw 10 artist seed commissions for new work, two summer outdoor festivals and a programme for people living with dementia.
Michael Harrison Entertainment was named Producer of the Year, sponsored by Get Into Theatre, for its outstanding leadership to provide casts and crew across the country with work during one of the most difficult years in theatre. Highlights include the UK tour of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Drifters Girl in Newcastle and the West End, the summer run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Palladium, and, as the chief executive of Crossroads Pantomimes, Harrison also oversaw 29 pantos around the UK.
The Fringe Theatre of the Year award, sponsored by encoreinsure.com, was won by New Diorama Theatre in London and marks the second time the organisation has received the accolade. Its 10-year anniversary featured superb work on stage and also the launch of NDT Broadgate, a new rehearsal space for freelance artists that they are able to use for free. To date, it has gifted more than 30,000 rehearsal hours to theatremakers.
Meanwhile, in a first for The Stage Awards, the Unsung Hero award, sponsored by Kindred Partners, was presented to a group rather than an individual. Theatre’s remarkable understudies and covers were collectively recognised for their role in ensuring that shows up and down the UK were able to remain open when their colleagues were either sick or isolating with Covid. Collecting the award on behalf of their colleagues were five understudies and covers from shows around the country.
Commenting on this year’s winners, Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, said: “The past two years have been an extraordinarily difficult time for everyone in theatre and, had they been able to, our judges wished they could have celebrated everyone who put a show on and entertained audiences during this time, despite almost insurmountable challenges.
“But, looking at our line-up of winners this year, one thing that strikes me is how many of them – as well as displaying individual excellence – have gone above and beyond to give back to the theatre sector at a time of crisis.
“This applies as much to the £60 million redevelopment of Drury Lane, which sees Andrew Lloyd Webber reinvesting in the fabric of the West End, to the many understudies and covers across the country who have stepped up to save shows that would otherwise have been forced to close due to Covid.
“This is an extraordinary group of winners doing wonderful things and between them they will help ensure that British theatre flourishes on the other side of the pandemic.”
The Stage Awards, in association with Tysers Insurance Brokers, celebrate the greatest achievements in UK theatre in the past 12 months. The awards recognise performing arts organisations and teams who have been making fantastic work and those helping to shape and rebuild the sector for the better.
Sponsors for this year’s event include Cabbells, Charcoalblue, Concord Theatricals, encoreinsure.com, ETC, Evolution Productions, Get Into Theatre and Kindred Partners, with support from Triple E, Autograph Sound, Blue-I Theatre Technology and White Light.