Stars of stage 'bow before' magnificent Murphy
Tom Murphy: Received standing ovation at awards ceremony last night
Productions of Tom Murphy’s plays sweep the boards at awards ceremony
It was surely the year of Tom Murphy in Irish theatre. Almost every second award winner at The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards last night at Royal Hospital Kilmainham won for a Tom Murphy revival, with related winners accounting for five of the 13 awards received and more nominations. Host Aonghus Óg McAnally said: “Everyone in a Tom Murphy play got nominated.”
Druid Theatre Company’s DruidMurphy cycle of three plays telling the story of emigration – Conversations on a Homecoming, A Whistle in the Dark and Famine – directed by Garry Hynes won Best Production as the highlight of last year.
DruidMurphy, having already toured to international acclaim, goes on an Irish tour from April to June. Hynes reiterated a theme from the evening saying, “We bow before you; the night is yours, Tom Murphy.”
Best Director was awarded to Annabelle Comyn for her production of Murphy’s The House at the Abbey Theatre last June while Best Actor went to Declan Conlan as Christy Cavanagh, the returning emigrant, in The House.
He too acknowledged Murphy’s writing saying, “It’s no accident so many actors were nominated for his plays. He writes the best parts for actors and we’re very privileged to be able to share the room with Mr Murphy.”
His partner, Catherine Walker, was named Best Actress for her portrayal of Maeve Brennan in The Talk of the Town, which was written by Emma Donoghue and directed by Annabelle Comyn. Best Supporting Actress went to Marie Mullen as Missus in Conversations on a Homecoming and Best Supporting Actor went to Aaron Monaghan for his portrayal of Liam in the same play.
Best New Play went to Derry-born Morna Regan for The House Keeper directed by Lynne Parker for Rough Magic.
Best Costume Designer was Peter O’Brien for two works: The Talk of the Town at Project Arts Centre and Patrick Mason’s version of A Woman of No Importance for the Gate Theatre. O’Brien said he started doing plays at 50 but “it’s been eight years of absolute bliss”.
Best Opera Production was Pagliacci directed by John O’Brien and Michael Barker-Caven for Everyman Palace Theatre and Cork Operatic Society. Barker-Caven paid tribute to the choral society who “filled the theatre with total joy”.
Other opera productions were well-represented among the winners with Best Set Designer going to Jamie Vartan for the Delius’ opera A Village Romeo and Juliet directed by Stephen Medcalf for Wexford Festival Opera and Thomas Kluth winning Best Lighting Designer for Dieter Kaegi’s production of The Barber of Seville at Lismore Music Festival.
Best Sound Designer went to Little John Nee for Sparkplug at Absolut Fringe Festival.
Karl Shiels was awarded the Judges’ Special Award “for his selfless commitment to the development and promotion of new talent in Irish theatre”. Shiels is the director of Theatre Upstairs, a small space above Lanigan’s Pub in Dublin which supports experimental and new work.
Marie Mullen was also the recipient of a Special Tribute Award. One of the founding members of Druid Theatre Company and a Tony Award-winning actress, who turns 60 this year, Mullen said she was “overwhelmed and humbled” and thanked “all the druids: past, present and future”.
Declan Conlan as Christy in The House, Abbey Theatre
Catherine Walker as Maeve Brennan in The Talk of the Town Hatch Theatre Company, Landmark Productions and Dublin Theatre Festival
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Aaron Monaghan as Liam in Conversations on a Homecoming, Druid Theatre Company
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Marie Mullen as Missus in Conversations on a Homecoming, Druid Theatre Company
Annabelle Comyn for The House, Abbey Theatre
BEST SET DESIGNER
Jamie Vartan for A Village Romeo and Juliet, Wexford Festival Opera
BEST COSTUME DESIGNER
Peter O’Brien for The Talk of the Town, Hatch Theatre Company, Landmark Productions and
Dublin Theatre Festival; and A Woman of No Importance, Gate Theatre
BEST LIGHTING DESIGNER
Thomas Kluth for The Barber of Seville, Lismore Music Festival
BEST SOUND DESIGNER
Little John Nee for Sparkplug, Absolut Fringe Festival
DruidMurphy - Plays by Tom Murphy, directed by Garry Hynes, Druid Theatre Company
BEST NEW PLAY
The House Keeper written by Morna Regan and directed by Lynne Parker, Rough Magic Theatre Company
BEST OPERA PRODUCTION
Pagliacci, composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo and directed by John O’Brien and Michael Barker-Caven for Everyman Palace Theatre and Cork Operatic Society
JUDGES SPECIAL AWARD
Karl Shiels for his selfless commitment to the development and promotion of new talent in Irish theatre