Photos: Radcliffe Hosts Theatre Book Prize EventDate: 12 April 2007
Daniel Radcliffe spends about two-and-a-half hours on the Gielgud Theatre stage each night playing Alan Strang in Equus. Today, however, he made what must surely be the shortest presentation speech in the history of awards ceremonies when he stepped onto a platform in front of a packed audience at the Theatre Museum in London’s Covent Garden and announced the winner of this year’s Theatre Book Prize.
After Howard Loxton, administrator of the prize for the Society of Theatre Research, called on the 17-year-old actor to make an entrance, Radcliffe bounced on from behind a closed door wearing a pink sweatshirt under a smart grey suit, stood in front of the mic and said: “I’d like to announce that the winner of the Theatre Book Prize is John Osborne: A Patriot for Us, by John Heilpern.” In Heilpern’s absence, theatre director Bill Bryden stepped up to accept the award, shook hands, and while the press cameras flashed, the smiling Radcliffe made a quick exit through the same door. One minute Radcliffe was there in front of an audience of authors, publishers, academics and invited guests, seconds later he had disappeared - as if by Harry Potter magic.
TO SCROLL THROUGH PHOTOS FROM THE THEATRE BOOK PRIZE CEREMONY,
Later, after posing for photographs alongside Theatre Book Prize judges Richard Mangan, Heather Neill and John Woodvine, and actor Sir Donald Sinden, Radcliffe stopped to speak exclusively to Whatsonstage.com. Asked if he was still enjoying playing Strang in Equus, he said: “It’s going well. It just goes by now, and we are keeping the stamina going.” Further questions about his own book reading habits and plans for the future were instantly nipped in the bud by Radcliffe’s personal PA, before the actor was whisked off in a waiting cab.
Accepting the award for Heilpern’s biography, authorised by Osborne’s widow Helen, Bryden (who directed Osborne’s play Watch It Come Down for the National Theatre in 1976) said: “John was a controversial, fractious, deeply gifted man who opened the door to the theatre of my generation. The whole theatre as we know it began on the night that Look Back in Anger opened. He made history and this book is in honour of that.”
Commenting on the poor standard of sub-editing found in some of the dozens of publications submitted to the judging panel, Loxton said, “I don’t blame the editors. I know the commercial pressures they often work under. But I am delighted to be able to praise the readability of so many of the academic titles submitted, though not all of them. One entry was so busy trying to be ‘with it’ and approachable in its design that it had the opposite effect and looked impenetrable.”
Loxton praised the contribution of smaller theatre publishers such as Nick Hern Books and Oberon Books: “Playscripts are outside the remit for the prize, but how often do you see the big imprints publishing new plays by unknown writers the way that Tom Maschler at Cape used to publish Storey or Wesker, or Giles Gordon at Penguin produced collections of new plays back in the sixties.”
The Theatre Book Prize was established in 1997 to celebrate the Jubilee of the Society for Theatre Research and to encourage the writing and publication of books on theatre history and practice. It is now presented annually for a book on British or British-related theatre which a panel of judges considers to be the best published during the year.
The full list of books shortlisted his year is: John Osborne: A Patriot for Us by John Heilpern (Chatto & Windus); Lilian Baylis: A Biography by Elizabeth Schafer (University of Hertfordshire Press), Staging New Britain: Aspects of Black and South Asian British Practice edited by Geoffrey Davis and Ann Fuchs (Peter Lang); The Theatre of Martin Crimp by Aleks Sierz (Methuen Drama); Theatre Workshop: Joan Littlewood and the Making of Modern British Theatre by Robert Leach (University of Exeter Press); and The Victorian Clown by Jacky Bratton and Ann Featherstone (Cambridge University Press).
- by Roger Foss