Northern Broadsides announced today that its artistic director Barrie Rutter has been awarded the prestigious Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award for 2010.

Rutter joins the esteemed ranks of previous award winners Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, and Peter Brook. The annual, international award is presented to an individual or company for their outstanding achievement in extending the appreciation and enjoyment of William Shakespeare’s work, or in the general advancement of Shakespearian knowledge and understanding.

Rutter spoke with enthusiasm about the award: “I am absolutely thrilled to accept the award and honoured to join such a wonderfully creative group of artists to have had the pleasure of winning this prestigious award.

”My thanks go to the committee and also to the many people who have helped Broadsides create the great bard’s works over the last twenty years.”

Explaining why Rutter was a “worthy” candidate for the prize, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations Committee Nicolas Walsh added:

“Barrie has such an immense reputation in British Theatre for his Shakespearean work with both the RSC and especially Northern Broadsides, which he formed nearly 20 years ago. Through Broadsides' he has made Shakespeare accessible to audiences who might have not had the chance to see the great writer's work before and also changed how he is heard. He is a worthy winner of the award.”

Rutter formed Northern Broadsides in 1992, and the company has gone on to win multiple awards with its touring productions, building a reputation for performing Shakespeare and classical texts with an innovative, popular and regional style.

The company has produced over 27 productions of Shakespeare, including the highly acclaimed production of Othello last year starring Lenny Henry.

Northern Broadsides has garnered much attention for its common use of unconventional locations, like The Tower of London, cattle markets, churches, indoor riding stables, and Victorian mills. The company is based in the historic Dean Clough Mill in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

The Shakespeare Birthday celebrations and Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award for 2010 will take place in Stratford on Saturday 24th April from 10am onwards. For more details visit www.shakespearesbirthday.org.uk

- Vicky Ellis