A night to remember
It’s been a big week for Sheffield Theatres, and it’s only Tuesday! Here Claire Murray, Communications & Fundraising Director gives us an insight into the excitement of last weekend’s UK Theatre Awards.
As contrasts go, you couldn't find a greater one than my weekend last week and this. Last weekend: large scale, utterly wonderful creative chaos as 3000 families came to the Crucible to sing, dance, draw, act, make and explore their way around the theatre for Fun Palaces. This weekend: glad rags on and heading for the capital for one of the big occasions in the arts calendar - the annual UK Theatre Awards.
Walking in to the historic Guildhall, you're first of all struck by the grand and beautiful architecture. It's a stunning location. However, once your gaze shifts from the stained glass and statues, you realise that chap walking from the cloakroom is Sir Ian McKellen, Don Warrington's to your left and you've just slid past Vanessa Redgrave in the drinks reception; turn and you see Ashley Zhangazha, pop to the loo and you bump in to Julie Hesmondhalgh. Overwhelming? YES! It's overwhelming!! These are people I've admired on stage and on screen for years. It is completely overwhelming and completely wonderful! Around the room are also the managers and artists who have created fantastic work all over the country this year. It feels like a huge privilege to be here. We head for our table and scour the programme for the day's schedule.
2pm - we're off! And it's not long before the glorious Rebecca Trehearn is called to the stage as the winner of Best Supporting Performance for Show Boat. We are brimming with pride. No sooner does she return to the table than Cuttin’ It is awarded Best New Play. And what follows is a string of awards: Design genius Lez Brotherston bags Best Design for Show Boat and Flowers for Mrs Harris; our table erupts as Clare Burt wins Best Performance in a Musical and then, we reach Best Musical Production, a category in which we have 2 nominations, alongside Half a Sixpence from Chichester. Breath held, in fact there's little respiration amongst the Sheffield contingent.
'A joint award this year...'
We can hardly believe our ears when both Show Boat and Flowers for Mrs Harris are awarded the honour. Dan Bates, our Chief Executive takes to the stage and reads a speech from Daniel Evans, the director of both productions and our previous Artistic Director. We are... giddy! If you saw these shows, you'll know they were very different; one classic, one brand new - but both were breath taking: the stage thronged with amazing actors, talented musicians performing the most wonderful scores, spectacular sets and jaw droppingly beautiful costumes. To have both win is a remarkable, joyous surprise.
But, I hear you ask, are these awards important? Does a year's work stand or fall by the opinion of a small panel of 'experts'? Well, of course not, awards are only one mark of success. However, what's wonderful about awards like this is that they celebrate our work within the context of the national arts scene; they recognise our talented craftspeople and our dedicated team and they bring attention to the city.
It’s Tuesday now, back to normal…I’m pretty lucky though, my normal involves creating the artwork and copy for our next big announcement – Robert Hastie’s first season. Here’s to more exciting news soon!