Top theatres across the UK named at The Stage Awards 2019

  • Theatres of the year named – London Theatre: Bush Theatre, Regional Theatre: Nottingham Playhouse, and Fringe Theatre: Barn Theatre, Cirencester.
  • Open Door – part-funded by Game of Thrones actor Emilia Clarke – wins School of the Year, sponsored by TodayTix, for its work helping young people from low-income households prepare for drama school auditions.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child producer Sonia Friedman named Producer of the Year, sponsored by PRG, for the fourth time for her work including The Jungle, The Inheritance and Summer and Smoke.
  • Groundbreaking Down’s syndrome show in Africa helps Cardiff-based Hijinx Theatre win the International Award, sponsored by Ambassador Theatre Group.
  • Battersea Arts Centre wins Theatre Building of the Year, sponsored by TAIT, following its restoration after a devastating fire in 2015.
  • Theatre’s unsung hero revealed as Pat Nelder celebrating his 41 years at Theatr Clwyd in North Wales.
  • Other theatres recognised include the New Diorama Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith in London.

Winners of The Stage Awards 2019, in association with Integro Insurance Brokers Ltd, were announced at the Bridge Theatre, London on Friday, January 25, 2019.

Regional Theatre of the Year, sponsored by Evolution Productions, was won by Nottingham Playhouse for its acclaimed season including superb productions of Wonderland, Sweet Charity and The Madness of George III starring Mark Gatiss. The Bush Theatre was named London Theatre of the Year, sponsored by Managed Networks, with judges citing the diverse programming at the venue with hit shows including An Adventure and Misty. The Barn Theatre, Cirencester won Fringe Theatre of the Year, sponsored by encoreinsure.com, having only opened in March 2018 but already gaining national attention for its acclaimed productions of One Minute and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

School of the Year, sponsored by TodayTix, went to Open Door, which provides training and financial support for 18-25 year olds from low-income households. It is part-funded by actor Emilia Clarke, best known for playing Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. The project has received support from high-profile agents and casting directors, as well as partnering with leading drama schools including RADA and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child producer Sonia Friedman won Producer of the Year, sponsored by PRG. In the past 12 months, Sonia Friedman Productions has produced the West End transfers of critically acclaimed productions The Inheritance and The Jungle, as well as the Broadway transfers of The Ferryman and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Sonia Friedman Productions previously won Producer of the Year 2015, 2016 & 2017.

Hijinx Theatre won the International Award, sponsored by Ambassador Theatre Group, for its international touring work which saw it visit 67 cities in 16 countries. It also led a groundbreaking collaboration in Africa, which involved taking four actors with Down’s syndrome to Lesotho to create a piece with local drama students. This is particularly inspiring because Lesotho is a place where disability is perceived as a curse, and babies with disabilities are often abandoned at orphanages.

Battersea Arts Centre was awarded Theatre Building of the Year, sponsored by TAIT, following the reopening of the Grand Hall after a devastating fire engulfed the venue in 2015. The architects, Haworth Tompkins, have left the scarred walls on display in recognition of the building’s past. Recently, Steve Tompkins of the architecture firm Haworth Tompkins was named the most influential figure in the performing arts in The Stage 100 2019, in association with Spektrix.

The Unsung Hero award, sponsored by White Light, was given to Pat Nelder from Theatr Clwyd, Mold. Nelder has worked at the venue since 1977 joining as a junior member in the LX department, but has since worked in various roles and is now the capital development associate. The theatre’s artistic director Tamara Harvey said: “Quietly, constantly and with unceasing humility, he is the very best of us.”

Mark Shenton, associate editor of The Stage and judging panel member, said:

“At a time when regional theatre is facing serious challenges, the resurgence of the Nottingham Playhouse under new artistic director Adam Penford is particular reason to rejoice. The arrival of the brand-new Barn Theatre in Cirencester, a town previously unserved by a producing theatre, is also a sign of new regional vitality. The changing face(s) of London’s most inspiring theatres, onstage and off, are acknowledged by new producing models at both the Bush and the New Diorama that are bringing on plenty of new talent. I am proud to be part of a the judging panel that has championed and celebrated their achievements, as well as the ongoing and unrivalled changes to the commercial West End environment made by Sonia Friedman.”

Natasha Tripney, reviews editor of The Stage and judging panel member, said:

“It’s a pleasure to recognise the theatres that are changing the shape of the industry both via the work they programme, the people they work with and the level of support they are able to offer theatremakers, both in London, at the Bush Theatre and the New Diorama, and around the UK. New initiatives like Open Door are making it possible for talented young people to overcome financial barriers into the industry. Hijinx is touring inclusive theatre internationally, changing preconceptions. These are developments worth celebrating.”

The Stage Awards, in association with Integro Insurance Brokers Ltd, are decided by The Stage’s senior editorial team, following extensive consultation with leading figures in the theatre industry and a public nomination process. The winners were announced on January 25, 2019 at a ceremony at the Bridge Theatre, London.

Previous winners of The Stage Awards include: the National Theatre, Sonia Friedman Productions, Royal Exchange Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Chichester Festival Theatre, Michael Grandage Company, National Youth Theatre, Sheffield Theatres, Arts Educational Schools, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

The Stage Awards 2019 are presented in association with Integro Insurance Brokers Ltd. Category sponsors for this year’s event include Ambassador Theatre Group, Charcoalblue, encoreinsure.com, ETC, Evolution Productions, Managed Networks, PRG, TAIT, TodayTix and White Light.

Winners in full

Regional Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Evolution Productions
Nottingham Playhouse

London Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Managed Networks
Bush Theatre

Fringe Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by encoreinsure.com
Barn Theatre, Cirencester

Theatre Building of the Year
Sponsored by TAIT
Battersea Arts Centre, London

Producer of the Year
Sponsored by PRG
Sonia Friedman Productions

School of the Year
Sponsored by TodayTix
Open Door, London and the East Midlands

International Award
Sponsored by Ambassador Theatre Group
Hijinx Theatre, Cardiff

Innovation Award
Sponsored by Charcoalblue
New Diorama Theatre, London for its programming model

Sustainability Award
Sponsored by ETC
Lyric Hammersmith, London

Unsung Hero
Sponsored by White Light
Pat Nelder, capital development associate at Theatr Clwyd