Shortlists are announced today (7 January 2010) ahead of the star-studded Awards ceremony, hosted by presenter Melvyn Bragg, which will be held on Tuesday 26 January at The Dorchester in London and broadcast on ITV1 on Sunday 31 January.
In the Theatre category, Jez Butterworth and Alan Bennett’s new plays, Jerusalem and The Habit of Art respectively, have been nominated along with last summer’s Donmar Warehouse revival of Tennessee Williams’ classic of A Streetcar Named Desire, which starred Rachel Weisz.
Jerusalem, which premiered at the Royal Court in July, transfers to the West End’s Apollo Theatre this month with its original stars Mark Rylance and Mackenzie Crook, while The Habit of Art, premiered at the National in November, continues in rep in the NT Lyttelton starring Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances de la Tour.
In the Breakthrough Award category, sponsored by The Times and presented by Sir Ian McKellen, the theatre nominee is playwright Lucy Prebble, whose second play Enron for Headlong Theatre company was another of 2009’s big hits and also transfers to the West End this month, following its runs at Chichester Festival Theatre and the Royal Court.
All four productions have also been shortlisted in this year’s tenth annual Whatsonstage.com Awards, the only major theatre accolades decided by the public, for which voting continues until 31 January (click here to vote now!).
Elsewhere in the South Bank Show Awards, theatre is also well represented in the Arts Council England’s Diversity Award category, which celebrates outstanding achievement by a diverse artist or by an organisation that promotes diverse groups and cultures in any category of the arts. The nominees this year are: the playwright and performing artist Julie McNamara; the artistic director of Graeae Theatre company, Jenny Sealey; and the women’s theatre, education and new writing company, Clean Break.
Meanwhile, in the Dance category, the troupe that took the UK by storm when they won Britain’s Got Talent, Diversity, compete against: E=mc², David Bintley’s new ballet for the Birmingham Royal Ballet, named after Einstein’s theory of relativity; and Limen, Wayne McGregor’s latest work for the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House. And the Breakthrough nominee for dance is Melissa Hamilton.
In the Opera category, the shortlist comprises: a contemporary double bill of George Benjamin’s dark retelling of the Pied Piper, Into the Little Hill and Harrison Birtwistle’s dramatic pastoral Down by the Greenwood Side (Linbury Studio – ROH2 / The Opera Group / London Sinfonietta); David Alden’s production of Peter Grimes (ENO); and the first-ever production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen at Glyndebourne. And the Breakthrough nominee for opera is director Daniel Kramer.
Speaking about the final South Bank Show Awards, Melvyn Bragg said: “These are the only awards in the world wholly devoted to the arts. They reflect the range covered by The South Bank Show over the years. Time and again, the judges have turned up with apparently rather offbeat lists which have contained artists whose work has gone on to be central to the culture. And it is great fun!”
Other categories covered in the South Bank Show Awards are: Pop, Film, Comedy, TV Drama, Classical Music, Visual Arts and Literature. An un-shortlisted award for Outstanding Achievement is announced on the day.
After 30 years, the final edition of The South Bank Show, which focused on the Royal Shakespeare Company, on 28 December 2009 (see Michael Coveney’s blog). There are plans for a short series of South Bank Show Revisited programmes to be aired this spring, which will provide updates on previously featured subjects.