The Judges’ Special Award generally serves to acknowledge efforts that might otherwise go overlooked. It’s significant that the New Theatre has been nominated, more for its mission than its individual productions, which the judges admired for consistently producing new work. Together with recognising the canny nationwide tours of Decadent Theatre Company, the form-pushing agenda of Anu Productions and the academic engagement of Carysfort Press, it recognises particular resilience.
So has it been a good year for theatre? There is a moment’s hesitation. “I don’t think it was a brilliant year,” says Cronin, finally. “The writing, without being cliched, is down in a major way.” “The talent is there,” counters Pine. The four pieces nominated for Best New Play, for instance, “are very contained. They really achieve what they set out to achieve and they know where their boundaries are.”
Awards are, inevitably, a recognition of the best an art form has to offer in a given year, and in theatre they are a record of a year in an ephemeral business. But, win or lose, they can also be something more useful: an encouragement to do better still.
This year’s 'Irish Times’ Irish Theatre Awards take place on Sunday, February 23rd, at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, in Dublin. The judges are:
Alan O’Roirdan is the editor of Playography Ireland at the Irish Theatre Institute and a journalist at Storyful. He has written extensively about theatre and the arts for Irish newspapers.
Dr Emilie Pine lectures in modern drama at University College Dublin. She is the author of a book on Irish theatre, culture and performance. 'The Politics of Irish Memory: Performing Remembrance in Contemporary Irish Culture’, and is assistant editor of the Irish University Review.
Fergus Cronin works with arts, media and community organisations and is a former theatre practitioner
In Howie the Rookie, written and directed by Mark O’Rowe for Landmark Productions.
As Isaac in Summertime, written by David Ireland, and directed by Michael Duke for Tinderbox Theatre Company.
In The Man Jesus, written by Matthew Hurt, and directed by Joseph Alford for the Lyric Theatre, in Belfast.
As Lear in King Lear, written by William Shakespeare, and directed by Selina Cartmell for the Abbey Theatre.
In Riverrun, written by James Joyce, and adapted by Olwen Fouéré and directed by Olwen Fouéré and Kellie Hughes for the Emergency Room and Galway Arts Festival.
As Bridgie Cleary in What Happened to Bridgie Cleary, written by Tom MacIntyre, and directed by John Murphy for Bottom Dog Theatre Company.
As Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams, and directed by Ethan McSweeny for the Gate Theatre.
As Clare in Digging for Fire, written by Declan Hughes, and directed by Matt Torney for Rough Magic Theatre Company.
For Mrs Warren’s Profession, written by George Bernard Shaw, and directed by Patrick Mason for the Gate Theatre.
For The Importance of Being Earnest, written by Oscar Wilde, and directed by Antony McDonald for NI Opera and Wide Open Opera.
For Thirteen, directed by Louise Lowe, Will Irvine and Bairbre Ní hAodha for Anu Productions Productions and Dublin Fringe Festival.
For King Lear, written by William Shakespeare, and directed by Selina Cartmell for the Abbey Theatre.
For A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams, and produced by the Gate Theatre.
For Desire Under the Elms, written by Eugene O’Neill, and produced by the Corn Exchange.
For Way to Heaven, written by Juan Mayorga, and produced by Rough Magic.
For Embers, written by Samuel Beckett, and directed by Gavin Quinn produced by Pan Pan Theatre, and Carmen, produced by OTC.
For The Man Jesus, written by Matthew Hurt, and directed by Joseph Alford for the Lyric Theatre.
For Embers, written by Samuel Beckett, and directed by Gavin Quinn for Pan Pan Theatre.
For Howie the Rookie, written and directed by Mark O’Rowe for Landmark Productions.
For Riverrun, written by James Joyce, and adapted by Olwen Fouéré and directed by Olwen Fouéré and Kellie Hughes for the Emergency Room and Galway Arts Festival.
Best new play
The Games People Play
Written by Gavin Kostick,and directed by Bryan Burroughs for Rise Productions.
The Man Jesus
Written by Matthew Hurt, and directed by Joseph Alford for the Lyric Theatre.
Written by Colin Murphy, and directed by Conall Morrison for Fishamble: The New Play Company.
The Man in the Woman’s Shoes
Written and directed by Mikel Murfi for Hawk’s Well Theatre and Sligo Arts Service.
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