Finborough Wins Peter Brook Empty Space AwardDate: 2 November 2010
The Empty Space/Peter Brook Awards were presented today in a lunchtime ceremony at the National Theatre Studio, with the Finborough Theatre, which is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary season, taking the top prize.
Brook himself was not in attendance at today's ceremony due to rehearsal commitments in France, however a speech he prepared was delivered to the ceremony attendees by Nina Soufy.
The full list of winners were:
The Royal Court's Theatre Local - Dan Crawford Innovation Award
The Awards, now in their 21st year, were founded and are run by Blanche Marvin. They honour a body of work rather than an individual production, and are presented in recognition of the pioneering concepts or innovations that, in the spirit of the legendary director Peter Brook, are achieved by venues who perform in smaller studio spaces and receive comparatively little or no public funding.
Based above a pub in Earls Court, the Finborough Theatre has built up a reputation as one of the London Fringe's strongest houses for new plays. To celebrate its 30th birthday, the theatre held VIBRANT, a month-long festival featuring 30 plays by 30 Finborough playwrights.
Its recent productions have included a string of hits with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair and Dream of the Dog by South African playwright and novelist Colin Higginson both transferring to the West End's Trafalgar Studios. The European premiere of American playwright Noah Haidle's Saturn Returns opens at the venue on Thursday (4 November, previews from 2 November 2010).
Speaking after recieving his award today, the venue's artistic director, Neil McPherson reminded attendees that although the day's events may have been overshaddowed by arts funding cuts, his venue has always operated without Arts Council funding.
Winners of the ensemble award, Dreamthinkspeak is a loose collection of technicians, model makers and scenic artists. Their recent work Before I Sleep was the biggest selling production in the history of Brighton Festival, with audiences invited to an installation in a derelict supermarket. The company's next production will be at London's Somerset House.
Following the success of Burn My Heart at the Euston Road venue, the New Diorama Theatre and theatre company Third Party were joint recipiants of the Mark Marvin Rent Subsidy award, with a £1,500 contribution being made towards the company's hire of the venue. Both venue and company must jointly apply for the award, which it is hoped will allow the company to find matched funding from external sources. Third Party have announced their plans to present Richard III at the venue, continuing their work to present classic texts without resorting to adaptation.
The Royal Court's Theatre Local project saw the Sloan Square venue move productions to a disused retail unit in the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. Productions presented over the past 12 months have included Debbie Tucker's Random Anupama Chandrasekhar's Disconnect, DC Moore's The Empire and Anya Reiss' Spur of the Moment.
This year's judging panel comprised West End producers Peter Wilson and Thelma Holt, head of the National Theatre studio Purni Morell and critic and publisher Blanche Marvin. They were joined to judge the awards by theatre critics Dominic Cavendish, Lyn Gardner, Fiona Mountford and Mark Shenton.