Druid steals show at ‘Irish Times’ Theatre Awards

‘DruidShakespeare’ wins five awards, including Best Production and Best Director

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," utters Henry IV, in Shakespeare's play of the same name. Druid Theatre Company may be in a position to test that theory this morning, following the Galway company's regal sweep of the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards last night in Dublin.

DruidShakespeare, the thrilling cycle of four of Shakespeare's history plays, skilfully condensed by playwright Mark O'Rowe, won five awards at the gala event in the National Concert Hall. Its haul included awards for Best Production of 2015, Best Director for Garry Hynes, Best Actress for Derbhle Crotty (who played across gender as Henry IV), Best Actor for Marty Rea (who played beyond gender as an epicene Richard II) and Best Costume Design for Doreen McKenna and Francis O'Connor (who played a blinder for all genders).

The 19th edition of the annual awards, judged by Gerry Smyth, Róise Goan and Anna Walsh, reflected a year in both Irish theatre and Irish society that was marked by discussions of gender and sexuality.

The award for Best New Play went to Belfast writer Stacey Gregg for Scorch, a remarkable monologue given by a gender-curious teenager, staged last year by Prime Cut.


The Judge's Special Award went to Lian Bell for her work with Waking The Feminists, a movement initially born in protest of the Abbey Theatre's male-dominated programme for the centenary of the Rising, and which has quickly evolved into a considerable force for gender equality and economic parity in the performing arts.

Other winners – wittily and warmly hosted by Sonya Kelly and Shane O'Reilly – included Laurence Kinlan, who took the award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a simple and much-maligned soul in Conor McPherson's play The Night Alive, produced by the Dublin Theatre Festival and Lyric Theatre.

Best Supporting Actress went to Abigail McGibbon for her role as beleaguered Northern Irish politician Sandra in Rough Magic's production of David Ireland's Everything Between Us.

Best Opera went to The Last Hotel, a Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera co-production of a work by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh.

Producer Anne Clarke of Landmark Productions was also presented with the Special Tribute Award in recognition of her achievements as a maker of world-class theatre at home and abroad. She received further plaudits on the night from her colleagues in the theatre, including Loughlin Deegan, Paul Fahy, Cillian Murphy, Deirdre Kinahan, and the Gleesons, Brendan, Domhnall and Brian. Enda Walsh, with whom she has worked frequently, recently described her as "hands down the best producer I've worked with anywhere".

Peter Crawley

Peter Crawley

Peter Crawley, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about theatre, television and other aspects of culture