THE 13th annual CATS, for the year 2014–15, were announced at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, on Sunday 14 June. The guest presenters were Karen Dunbar and Andy Arnold.
The CATS Whiskers
For outstanding achievement in pioneering and high-quality work by young people.
Junction 25 on its tenth anniversary.
“Over the last decade, Junction 25 at the Tramway has won a richly deserved reputation as one of the finest youth theatre companies currently working in Europe, creating theatre that is made to reflect the thoughts, ideas and preoccupations of the 25 young people who form the company at any one time, yet is also shaped by directors Jess Thorpe and Tashi Gore into beautiful, world-class performance, often featuring superb light, sound and movement. Through shows like From Where I Am Standing, about teenagers and their parents, and I Hope My Heart Goes First, about life, love and the body, Junction 25 has won friends and audiences not only in Glasgow and across Scotland, but in London, Norway, and now Brazil, where it recently presented workshops based on its show Anoesis, about exam anxiety. Some of the young people involved in the company want to make careers in theatre, others do not; but all of them are passionately involved in creating theatre that gives audiences a chance to hear the voice of a generation – strong, passionate, funny, often unexpected, and always as inventive as it is challenging.”
Best Male Performance
Grant O’Rourke (Zanetto and Tonino), The Venetian Twins, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
“In playing the dual parts of Zanetto and Tonino, the siblings separated at birth in The Venetian Twins, Grant O’Rourke cut two gloriously contrasting figures. Flitting between the pomposity of one brother to the sheer stupidity of the other, and often with only a few seconds offstage before making the switch, O’Rourke proved himself not only ferociously versatile in making the differences between each apparent, but also a master of comic nuance
Best Female Performance
Sponsored by STV
Amy Manson (Grusha), The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
“In the dark maelstrom of the Lyceum’s vibrant reading of Brecht, Amy Manson’s sincere, honest and heroic Grusha provided a sharp and very necessary focus for the vile behaviour around her as she attempted to retain her humanity in a world in turmoil. This understated, natural performance in the play’s key role allowed the excesses of the more flamboyant roles to be given their true meaning and worth.”
Sponsored by Equity
The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
“A neon sign lit the stage with the message “Terrible is the seductive power of goodness” but it was this cast that truly shone as its 13 strong stellar line up took on the mantles of what seemed like a ‘cast of thousands’.”
Mark Thomson, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
“In a remarkable season at the Lyceum, Mark Thomson’s production of Brecht’s great play stood out for its scale, ambition and unabashed theatricality. With this beautifully paced show, Thomson not only brought narrative clarity to a complex story, he seamlessly interwove large-scale ensemble playing with live music and dynamic staging.”
Jamie Vartan (designer) and Simon Wilkinson (lighting designer), Bondagers, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
“The design was a particularly strong suit of this generally impressive production of Sue Glover’s much-loved play. From the very beginning, when the women workers emerged through the dust and the light of the falling sun, like an evocation of labour in Hell, we knew Jamie Vartan and Simon Wilkinson were giving us something special
Best Music and Sound
Sponsored by Guitar Guitar
Tyler Collins (musician), Gameli Tordzro (musician) and Matt Padden (sound design), Last Dream (On Earth), Kai Fischer in association with National Theatre of Scotland and Tron Theatre, Glasgow
This was a show that put music and sound centre stage. With the audience listening on headphones, it fused actors’ voices, live music and pre-recorded sound in a wholly original way. It amounted to a gorgeous aural tapestry which, when it stopped, reminded us of the desolation of perilous journeys, whether by refugees crossing oceans or astronauts crossing space.
Best Technical Presentation
Slope, Untitled Projects in partnership with KILTR, Citizens Theatre and Traverse Theatre Company
“Simultaneously performed in theatre spaces and broadcast online, this revival of Pamela Carter’s play was an extraordinary technical triumph. It created two equally brilliant, yet very distinctive and atmospheric experiences for its two audiences without one form detracting from the other. Whether one was watching in a studio theatre or online, one felt utterly absorbed by the anguished love triangle between Rimbaud, Verlaine and Verlaine’s long-suffering, young wife Mathilde.”
Best Production for Children and Young People
Sponsored by Young Scot
The Voice Thief, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company
“Ssshhh! The Voice Thief took scary to a new level for a 9+ audience with a site-specific promenade performance about a doctor who doesn’t like loud ugly voices and has ways of making them go away. Catherine Wheels pulled out every imaginable stop in terms of story-telling, visual trickery and design to take young audiences for a seriously thrilling walk on the dark side of human nature.”
Best New Play
Sponsored by Robertson Taylor W&P Longreach – Theatre Insurance Brokers
Martin McCormick, Squash, A Play, a Pie and a Pint in association with the Traverse Theatre Company
“Described as a ‘smartly written’, ‘nerve-wracking’ play that ‘races along with an impressive unsettling intensity’, Martin McCormick’s Squash was the stand-out script in a year filled with impressive new writing. A powerful statement on a society in meltdown, dysfunctional relationships and perceptions people have of “the others”, this tragic-comedy amused, horrified and thrilled audiences, being described by one critic as ‘pretty much as perfect as it gets’.”
The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
“Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle is one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, a brilliantly-told tale-within-a-tale of what happens to ordinary people when a nation tries to rise up against the abuse of power by their rulers; and in age of growing inequality and obvious injustice, Mark Thomson’s Royal Lyceum production offered a brilliant and timely 21st century response to this mighty play, full of music and wit, intelligence and feeling. From Amy Manson’s heart-stopping Grusha, with her exquisite little puppet-child, through Christopher Fairbank’s superb performance as the drunken judge Azdak, to Claire Mackenzie’s thrilling rock-inflected score unforgettably performed by Sarah Swire, this production used every resource of 21st century theatre to bring new life to this superb and ever more familiar tale of a vulnerable woman and child fleeing the horror of war, paying a high price for survival, and often finding the odds stacked against them, whichever side is winning; and yet somehow remaining undefeated, right down to the play’s thrilling and unforgettable final scene.”
The CATS judging panel for 2015 was made up of: Mary Brennan (The Herald), Irene Brown (edinburghguide.com), Mark Brown (The Sunday Herald and the Daily Telegraph), Neil Cooper (The Herald), Michael Cox (Across the Arts), Thom Dibdin (The Stage and AllEdinburghTheatre.com), Mark Fisher (The Guardian), Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), Allan Radcliffe (The Times), Amy Taylor (The Public Reviews and TVBomb), Gareth K Vile (The List) and Joy Watters (Across the Arts).