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Timely production of anti-fascist play is big winner at 2018 CATS

Press release 10 June 2018

Blythe Duff hosts the 2018 CATS Awards

A NEW version of a classic play, which responded to the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe, has topped the 2018 Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland.

The Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Lyceum Theatre, DOT Theatre, Istanbul international co-production Rhinoceros, won four CATS including the supreme award, Best Production. The production also won the awards for Best Director (Murat Daltaban), Best Male Performance (Robert Jack) and Best Music & Sound (Oğuz Kaplangi).

A timely production staged against the backdrop of the current rising tide of authoritarian nationalism across the globe, Rhinoceros was directed by Turkish director Murat Daltaban, who recently announced that he and his family are relocating from Istanbul to live in Edinburgh.

Announcing the Best Director Award, Mark Brown of the Sunday Herald and The Daily Telegraph said: “The nomination of Murat Daltaban for his production of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros has a particular significance. The play is a powerful warning about the dangers of conformity, of a mass succumbing to a social miasma that robs us of our culture, our freedom and, ultimately, our humanity.

“The times in which we live can feel like the 1930s with the film running slightly slower. That is particularly true of Murat’s homeland Turkey, where freedom of thought and expression, not least the freedoms of theatremakers, are currently under serious threat.”

The Edinburgh International Festival was also recognized in two further award categories (Best Design and Best Technical Presentation) for Flight, its commission from Vox Motus and Beacon Arts Centre. The Royal Lyceum, meanwhile, also triumphed in the Best Ensemble category for its production of The Belle’s Stratagem.

The Best Female Performance Award went to Jessica Hardwick for Perth Theatre’s production of David Harrower’s Scottish classic Knives in Hens. The Best New Play Award was won by Peter Arnott for his new version of Compton Mackenzie’s The Monarch of the Glen for Pitlochry Festival Theatre. The Best New Production for Children and Young People award went to Andy Cannon and Red Bridge Arts for Space Ape.

“Fear, isolationism and irrational kinds of ‘group-think’ are increasing forces in our world, and we’re delighted that Scottish theatre – and many of our winning shows – continue to tackle these issues with such a thrilling mixture of wit, seriousness, and theatrical flair,” says Joyce McMillan, CATS co-convenor.

“From our most awarded production Rhinoceros, through Perth Theatre’s brilliant version of Knives In Hens, to a new form of theatre designed to bring the world’s refugee crisis within touching distance in Vox Motus’s Flight, and Peter Arnott’s richly comic yet revealing 21st century take on all the issues of land, class·and identity raised in Compton Mackenzie’s The Monarch Of The Glen, these plays speak to the world we live in with real urgency, but also a strong sense of passion, poetry, and fun.”

“Theatre is all about opening new perspectives on the world we live in, in ways that can be playful, tragic or just plain thrilling; and this year, Scottish theatre carried out that job brilliantly, in what have not always been easy times, for many of Scotland’s theatre companies.”

“Investment in Scottish theatre is vital for its future,” said CATS co-convenor, Mark Fisher. “We are delighted to be here in Perth Theatre celebrating the reopening of this historic building following its major refurbishment, which will ensure it continues to be a beacon for artistic endeavour for generations to come.”

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