In less than a week, Theatre Land will be flocking to the prestigious Royal Opera House as one of the biggest Awards ceremonies in the industry descends onto both stage and screen. However…do you find that whilst your sat watching these ceremonies, you’re shaking your head at the fact that the award wasn’t won by the rightful nominee, or that certain categories have been omitted? Cue Mark Shenton and Terri paddock…two established theatre critics who have worked for some of the biggest publications in the UK as they start a movement! Intent on showcasing the very best both of on stage and off stage, they are determined to shine a light on the elements of theatre that are otherwise ignored with the very first Also Recognised Awards!
Why do you feel the categories were dropped by What’s on Stage?
We can’t speak for WHATSONSTAGE’s motives.
How do you think the award decisions will differ in terms of audience choice vs panel choice?
Audience votes are sometimes a popularity contest as opposed to one based on careful consideration of having seen every single candidate, but it’s the audience that the theatre is made for so it’s only right that they have a say in what is rewarded.
How did you decide on the nominees?
Mark Shenton sees around 400 shows a year professionally in London and beyond. Terri sees far fewer – but still quite a lot by normal standards! We also canvas industry view points from beyond our own experience.
Are there any particular types of performance or themes that you feel can make a production more likely or less likely to get a nomination or, indeed, an award?
Audiences are pretty open-minded when it comes to the theatre. Who would have guessed that a musical about cats would become one of the world’s most successful-ever musicals — let alone win awards?
What do you foresee being the ‘Theatre Events’ of this coming year?
We’ve just said goodbye to Nick Hytner at the National; we hope that Rufus Norris makes a comparable impact in his first year. We also have a possible change of government ahead soon. It’ll be interesting to see where arts sits in whoever takes over.
My Theatre mates seems like a great platform, are you hoping to use it as a springboard for other things, beyond voting, in the future? Networking/support etc.
It is early days for My Theatre Mates! The best journalists are often working independently of particular publications; we hope that we can bring them, and other quality bloggers, all together under one banner to make our presence felt.
Do you think the choice of Best Shakespearean Production is a reflection on the market saturated by Shakespeare or do you feel the writer deserves a category to himself? E.g. The category isn’t best Renaissance production including Marlowe, Kyd, Jonson etc.
Shakespeare is still one of our most produced of all playwrights, not just in Britain but around the world, and he remains in a class of his own. It seems appropriate to acknowledge the achievements of those working on his plays separately.
The new categories you have introduced reflects the importance of digital marketing in the theatre and you are leading the way in representing this in terms of awards. Do you think other awards will follow your example and what do you see the ramifications being if they choose not to?
The future is digital — not just for theatre marketing but also for theatre journalism. It’s time to bring the two together.
Why do you feel Musical Direction has not been recognised up until now?
The vital contribution of musical directors have simply been overlooked for years. Partly there’s a lack of expertise about judging exactly what they do, so part of our mission has been to explain their work to the public.
What criteria will you judge best Twitter engagement on?
It’s not for us to judge — the public do. But then Twitter is the ultimate democracy: people choose only to follow those who provide good engagement with their followers. So people will vote for the accounts they interact most with.
Interview by Emily Channon.
You can now place your votes for the first ever Also Recognised Awards. For more information on the awards event, visit here…