CRITICS' AWARDS FOR THEATRE IN SCOTLAND
One evening in February 2003 while waiting in the Arches, Glasgow for a play to begin, one theatre critic sidled up to his fellows and said, "I've been thinking Scotland should have awards for theatre." The reaction from all was yes, so a group of regular theatre critics in Scotland started to organise the first Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland.
When announcing the launch of these annual awards in April 2003, the critics said: "Almost every trade and profession has some sort of annual review of triumphs and achievements. We feel that theatre in Scotland, which produces some excellent work and delights hundreds of thousands of people every year, deserves no less. The theatre critics between them probably see more of what is on than anyone else."
At the beginning of May 2003, after five hours of vigorous and deeply felt private debate, where the critics considered over 130 eligible productions, the first Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland were decided. In the first year awards were given in five categories, for the best production, male performance, female performance, design and new play. The critics' panel also sponsored a seat at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow in appreciation of Giles Havergal's immeasurable contribution to theatre in Scotland over the 34 years in which he was director of the Glasgow Citizens.
Right: Kate Dickie, Liam Brennan and David MacLennan after the 2005–06 Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland.
The first year was an experiment in which the regular theatre critics tried out the scheme and gauged support with a minimal number of awards. They were delighted by the positive feedback, especially from the theatre community, so they moved forward to a more permanent footing and began to reward other essential parts of the theatre process.
In 2004 five extra categories of award were added: best director, best technical presentation, best children's show, best ensemble production and best music. From over 140 eligible productions, a shortlist of nominees was announced on the May 16, 2005.
On June 6, 2004 the second CATS Awards were announced at the first annual awards' ceremony and celebration for the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland held at the Tolbooth in Stirling.
The shortlists for the 2004-05 awards were announced on May 15, 2005. The CATS celebration and award ceremony for the 2004-05 awards took place on June 5, 2005 again at the Tolbooth, Stirling.
Shorlists for 2005-06, the fourth awarding year, were released on May 10, 2006. The third award ceremony, for 2005-2006, took place at the Discovery Point in Dundee on June 4, 2006.
Left: David Tennant after being named best actor for Look Back in Anger at the 2004-05 Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland.
Celebrating the fifth year of CATS, the critics released the shortlists for 2006-07 on May 13, 2007. This was followed by an award ceremony for the 2006-07 awards at Pitlochry Festival Theatre on Sunday June 10.
On May 18, 2008, following an all-day meeting at Edinburgh's Howard hotel, the CATS judges announced the shortlists for the ten categories of the 2007-08 awards. The sixth annual CATS, for the year 2007-08, were announced at 6pm on Sunday June 15 in a ceremony at Oran Mor, Glasgow with guest presenters Johnnie and Maureen Beattie.
The judging meeting for the seventh annual CATS awards took place on May 16, 2009 and the awards ceremony was at Edinburgh Festival Theatre on Sunday June 14, 2009 with guest presenters Faith Liddell and Grant Stott.
The ceremony returned to the Edinburgh Festival Theatre for the eighth awards on Sunday June 13, 2010. Details here. The Mackintosh Foundation has kindly sponsored CATS for 2010, 2011 and 2012. In addition, the CATS has received donations until 2012 from technical services company Northern Light, supporting the award for Best Technical Production; advertising and design agency Guy Robertson Partnership, sponsoring the award for Best Male Performance; broadcaster STV, sponsoring the award for Best Female Performance; theatre insurance company W&P Longreach – Theatre Insurance Brokers, sponsoring the award for Best New Play. The ceremony will also be sponsored by catering company Appetite Direct, fine wine supplier Inverarity and arts and entertainments publication The List.
For the third year running, the CATS awards took place at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre on Sunday June 12, 2011. Details here. The list of sponspors is joined by Equity which is supporting the award for Best Ensemble.
In 2012, the CATS moved to the Tron Theatre, Glasgow in a ceremony on June 10, 2012. Details here. BBC Scotland Radio Drama joined the list of sponsors. In 2013, it was the turn of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh to host the ceremony in its 50th anniversary year. The ceremony was on June 9, 2013. Details here.
Any piece of professional theatre substantially produced in Scotland in the twelve months from May to April (the natural break in the theatre year) is eligible.