Southwark Playhouse Wins Peter Brook Empty Space AwardDate: 1 November 2011
The Empty Space/Peter Brook Awards were presented today during a lunchtime ceremony at the National Theatre Studio, with Southwark Playhouse, which is currently campaigning to stay in its home under London Bridge station, taking the top prize.
The Awards, now in their 22nd year, were founded and are run by Blanche Marvin. They 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".
The full list of this year's winners is:
National Theatre of Wales - Dan Crawford Innovation Award
Main award winner Southwark Playhouse was founded in 1993 by Juliet Alderdice, Tom Wilson and Mehmet Ergen (now artistic director of the Arcola). Since then it has established itself as a leading fringe venue under artistic directors including Erica Whyman, Thea Sharrock, Gareth Machin, Ellie Jones and current incumbent Chris Smyrnios.
The venue, where recent successes include Tender Napalm, The Belle’s Stratagem and Parade, "has created miracles in its constant evolvement in refurbishing the grounds, the theatre, the expansion into the Vault and in the eclectic selection of plays that has been fabulously received." It beat off competition from fringe theatres including The Bush, Arcola, Jermyn Street and Landor.
The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter, which won the Mark Marvin Rent Subsidy award for its play Bunnies, was heralded by the panel for "sustaining a theatre and associating itself with various companies serving the needs of its region in the South West".
Faction Theatre, which won the Ensemble Award, was recognised for its staging of The Robbers by Schiller at the New Diorama. And outgoing Tricycle artistic director Nicholas Kent was honoured with a Special Achievement award for his 27-year tenure running the Kilburn venue.
This year's judging panel comprised West End producers Peter Wilson and Thelma Holt, Unicorn artistic director Purni Morell and critic and publisher Blanche Marvin. They were joined to judge the awards by theatre critics Dominic Cavendish (Telegraph), Lyn Gardner (Guardian), Fiona Mountford (Evening Standard) and Mark Shenton (Sunday Express).