CRITICS' AWARDS FOR THEATRE IN SCOTLAND
Left: Alan Cumming in Macbeth by the NTS (Pic: Manuel Harlan)
Right: Blythe Duff in Iron by Firebrand (Pic: Richard Campbell)
ALAN Cumming and Blythe Duff won the Best Actor Awards at the 2013 Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) in a ceremony that honoured no fewer than nine different productions. The contribution to Scottish theatre made by Vicky Featherstone, the inaugural artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS), was also recognised at the event in the presentation of a special CATS Whiskers Award.
The 2013 CATS were presented by one of Scotland’s leading playwrights, John Byrne, at a sell-out event that also marked the 50th anniversary of the Traverse Theatre.
“The last twelve months have seen an astonishing array of theatrical productions from one-man shows to all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas,” says CATS co-convenor, Joyce McMillan. “That nine different productions are recognised in the ten award categories at this year’s CATS speaks volumes about the calibre of work being produced across the country."
"The role of the National Theatre of Scotland as producer and co-producer over the last sevwn years has been seminal,” adds CATS co-convenor, Mark Fisher. “In recognition of the contribution to Scottish theatre that Vicky Featherstone made in her time with the NTS we are delighted to present her with a CATS Whiskers Award.”
“I am obviously delighted to be the recipient of the CATS Whiskers award,” says Featherstone. “The eight years I spent with the National Theatre of Scotland creating and producing work on stages across Scotland was an extraordinary period in my life and one which will always have a special place in my heart.
"I learnt more about theatre, what it is for and its true value in our lives than I could ever have imagined. For that transformation I am eternally grateful. I am deeply proud too of the bravery, talent and passion of the Scottish artists and the hunger and challenge of the audiences I had the pleasure of working with and for.
"We are all the cat’s whiskers, every person who bought a ticket, stood in the cold, uttered a word on stage, made one idea come to life, every person who has worked with us. Congratulations to all who shared the early years of the National Theatre of Scotland's journey with me. This is for all of us. And good luck too for the next precious part of that journey. I can't wait to be amazed.”
Best Male and Female Performance Awards this year went to Alan Cumming and Blythe Duff. Cumming won the Best Male Performance Award for “an unforgettable, bravura performance” in the National Theatre of Scotland’s one-man Macbeth, “one of the most memorable moments in Scottish theatre this year.” Speaking from New York, where the play is currently running, Cumming said, “I’m very grateful to the Scottish theatre critics, especially as Macbeth is the thing I am most proud of in my whole career. Thank you very much, it really means a lot to me for something I feel so proud of to be honoured by my country.”
The Best Female Performance Award went to former Taggart star, Blythe Duff, for a “thrillingly ambiguous and unsentimental performance in which she never let us be certain whether she was an innocent victim or a calculating psychopath.” Duff played convicted husband-killer, Fay Black, meeting her estranged daughter for the first time in 15 years in Iron, a Firebrand Theatre Company production in association with Heart of Hawick.
The hotly contested Best Production Award, in which five rather than the usual four productions were shortlisted, went to Stella Quines for The List, starring Maureen Beattie “a production that was perfectly formed in every delicate detail, like a Faberge egg."
Perth Theatre’s production of Conor McPherson's The Seafarer won a Best Director Award for Rachel O'Riordan, cementing her position as one of the finest and most visionary directors in the country. “O'Riordan bypassed any temptation to keep things merely ordinary, opting instead for a fearless approach which allowed her all-male cast to soar in what was clearly a labour of love.” That all-male cast of five actors picked up the Best Ensemble Award for performances “that fitted together in a way that really sustained the audience’s belief in the weird, off-kilter world of that play.”
In a year when the Traverse Theatre celebrates 50 years of supporting new Scottish writing it was fitting that the Best New Play Award should be won by one of its productions. Rob Drummond’s Quiz Show was “a twisting, duplicitous script which created an elaborate game show, in all its jollity and public glare, before moving off into altogether more unforgiving territory. Audience members laughed along at first before realising their complicity has been there from the beginning, woven into every word of the script.”
The considerable contribution to theatre for children and young people being made by the macrobert, Stirling was underlined as it won the award in this category for the second year running. Its production of Sonata for a Man and a Boy “took the audience on a journey that was funny, inventive and ultimately profound.”
The Best Music and Sound Award in 2013 went to Hilary Brooks, music director of the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, for the “sheer skill, brilliance and ambition” in her full-scale, Hollywood musical production of White Christmas. Meanwhile, the Best Design Award went to the team behind Ménage à Trois, a production by the National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with Claire Cunningham and Gail Sneddon of a "greatly moving and poetic work,” which was “a thing of wonder whose promise chimed perfectly with its reality”. The Best Technical Presentation Award went to Random Accomplice’s The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam. Jamie MacDonald's fluid black and white animations “added a whole new - and appropriate, and clever - dimension to the story of the orphaned teenage boy and his obsession with comic book heroes.”
For further information, images and interviews contact: Lesley Booth 0779 941 4474 firstname.lastname@example.org
BEST MALE PERFORMANCE
Alan Cumming (all parts), Macbeth, National Theatre of Scotland
BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE sponsored by STV
Blythe Duff (Fay Black), Iron, Firebrand Theatre Company in association with Heart of Hawick
BEST ENSEMBLE sponsored by Equity
The Seafarer, a co-production between Perth Theatre and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Rachel O'Riordan, The Seafarer, a co-production between Perth Theatre and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Gail Sneddon (concept and video), Rachana Jadhav (set), Karsten Tinapp (lighting), Kevin Pollard (costume) and Ménage à Trois, the National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with Claire Cunningham and Gail Sneddon
BEST MUSIC AND SOUND
Hilary Brooks, Irving Berlin's White Christmas: The Musical, Pitlochry Festival Theatre
BEST TECHNICAL PRESENTATION sponsored by Northern Light
The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam, Random Accomplice, Glasgow
BEST SHOW FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Sonata for a Man and a Boy, Greg Sinclair and macrobert, Stirling
BEST NEW PLAY sponsored by W&P Longreach – Theatre Insurance Brokers
Rob Drummond, Quiz Show, Traverse Theatre Company, Edinburgh
The List, Stellar Quines, Edinburgh
CATS would like to thank the following organisations for their continuing generous support of the annual awards: BBC Scotland Radio Drama, Equity, The Mackintosh Foundation, The List, Northern Light, STV and W&P Longreach.
The CATS judging panel for 2013 was made up of: Mary Brennan (The Herald), Anna Burnside (The Independent), Irene Brown (Edinburgh Guide), Mark Brown (The Sunday Herald and the Daily Telegraph), Neil Cooper (The Herald), Michael Cox (acrossthearts.co.uk), Robert Dawson Scott (The Times), Thom Dibdin (The Stage and Annals of the Edinburgh Stage), Mark Fisher (The Guardian), Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), Allan Radcliffe (The Times), Gareth K Vile (The List) and Joy Watters (acrossthearts.co.uk).