Kent was presented with his award by leading human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy, who called him an “alchemist” and a “magician”, who, through his work at the Tricycle, “takes us on a journey through some of the most challenging subjects facing our contemporary world”.
Accepting the award, Kent, who has been artistic director of the Tricycle since 1984, acknowledged the debt he owed to regional theatre - “I learnt everything I know from regional repertory theatre” he said, adding: “That's where you learn to talk to your community, and that's been my guiding principle at the Tricycle. I'll never forget my roots.”
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Other winners collecting their awards in person last night included: Anna Francolini, Craig Revel Horwood, Michael Eagling, Kirsty Hoiles, Alexandra Silber, Claire Price, Steven Hoggett and Scott Graham.
Lucy Prebble, who won Best New Play for Enron, was unable to attend due to flu. Her acceptance speech, in which she acknowledged the “Enron-sized debt” she owes to the cast and director Rupert Goold, was delivered by principal cast member Samuel West.
In one of the evening's most moving speeches, Mark Storor and the company of For the Best, which won Best New Play for Children and Young People, paid tribute to nine children suffering from renal disease who had helped create the piece, three of whom have subsequently died.
The event, hosted by Nichola McAuliffe, included performances from double award-winner Spend Spend Spend, as well as from the reformed cast of Spring Awakening, which made its acclaimed European premiere at the Lyric Hammersmith earlier in the year.
Presented by the Theatrical Management Association, the TMA Awards, unlike most of the UK's prizes for theatre, do not focus on London and the West End. They are the only nationwide awards for excellence in regional theatre. In considering the 13 awards categories –, more than 1,000 productions were seen by the panel of some 150 regular theatregoers from across the country.