The New Diorama Theatre
The New Diorama Theatre

The New Diorama Theatre has taken the top award at this year's Empty Space... Peter Brook Awards, for their efforts in creating a 'vital creative hub for established and emerging theatre companies'.

The theatre saw off competition from other studio theatres including Shoreditch Town Hall and Found111 to win the £2000 prize, picked by a panel of judges including theatre critics Lyn Gardner and Dominic Cavendish.

Blanche Marvin, the founder of the awards praised studio theatres: "They have changed drastically," she said, "They are now local theatres and they bring humanity into our theatres."

She added that this year's awards were driven to "honor the more established, as well as those starting out."

In his speech, delivered by his assistant Nina Soufy, Peter Brook said: "Very early on mankind discovered a form we now call theatre. It is the magnifying glass in which so much that is normally hidden can appear... Above all this must be shared...We are so lucky to be given this activity unbelievably lucky, so we take a deep breath and go on again. The struggle is full of joy."

Other honours included the Ensemble Award which went to physical theatre company Gecko; and the Royal Court Theatre Support Award, which offers a year of the venue's expertise, won by Omnibus in Clapham.

Good Chance Theatre's work in the Calais Jungle was recognised with Nica Burns presenting the founders with the Dan Crawford Innovation Award and a cheque for £2000.

Finally, the Royal Shakespeare Company's deputy artistic director Erica Whyman was named this year's recipient of the Peter Brook Special Achievement Award for her work with Northern Stage and the RSC, including the successful re-opening of The Other Place Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

This is the 27th year of the Empty Space Awards, which is an annual prize recognising pioneering concepts and innovations in the spirit of director Peter Brook, achieved in smaller theatre spaces with little or no public funding.