White Wins at UK Theatre Awards

Nov 3 2011 | By More

Catherine Wheels and Andy Manley garner yet another gong for White

By Thom Dibdin

White, Andy Manley and Catherine Wheels Theatre Company’s multi award-winning show for two to four year-olds, has triumphed at the Theatre Awards UK in the Best Show for Children and Young People category.

This is the second year running that Catherine Wheels has won in this category in what were previously known as the TMA awards – and the third time in the last eight years. Poppy and Dingan won the accolade last year with Lifeboat winning in 2002.

Ian Cameron and Andy Manley in White. Photo: Douglas McBridge

Artistic director Gill Robertson told the Annals: “we are thrilled with the award for White. It’s a show we are very proud of and worked hard to make. We’re delighted that theatre for early year’s audiences is getting this level of recognition. Andy Manley, who created White, is currently performing the show on Broadway and he is over the moon to have won.”

Manley was unable to be at the awards ceremony at Banqueting House on Whitehall, London, as he is currently in New York on the first leg of an international tour which will last until March 11. The award was accepted by  Robertson with company producer Paul Fitzpatrick.

The show is wowing New York, by all accounts, where it is on a five week run at the New Victory. Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber and Sarah Jessica Parker were in the opening night audience – with Parker saying it was one of the best things she has ever seen.

It then opens at the Southbank Centre, London, for a Christmas run on December 17 before travelling to Australia to the Adelaide Festival Centre, the Arts Centre Melbourne and on to the Sydney Opera House. After Australia, the White team head to Wellington as part of the New Zealand International Arts festival.

At the Theatre Awards UK, White was up against Swallows and Amazons – the Bristol Old Vic production which is touring to the Edinburgh Festival Theatre for a five night run on 31 January – and The Monster in the Hall, David Greig’s award-winning production for TAG at the Citizens, Glasgow.

Also up for an award was Muriel Romanes, who was nominated in the best director category for Age of Arousal, the co-production between Stellar Quines and the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh. In the event that award went to Michael Sheen and Bill Mitchell for The Passion, a weekend-long, city-wide promenade performance that played in Port Talbot last Easter in a co-production between the National Theatre Wales and Wild Works.

The win for White does beg one question concerning the awards’ name change from the TMA Awards to the Theatre Awards UK. Run by the London-based Theatre Management Association, only plays produced by its members or staged in member theatres are eligible. Not all Scottish theatres and companies are members of the TMA, preferring to join the Edinburgh-based Federation of Scottish Theatres, even thought their roles are said not to overlap.

Although it was produced at the Fringe in 2010 under the auspices of the Traverse, White did not become eligible for the awards until it was staged at the Theatre Royal, Bath.

Obviously the TMA must be allowed to regulate who is eligible for its own awards. But to call them the “Theatre Awards UK” does not seem entirely appropriate when many pieces of theatre are not eligible for entry.

Catherine Wheels’ website www.catherinewheels.co.uk


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