Total Theatre Awards

Feature in Issue 17-4 | Winter 2005

Awards 2005 report by: Dorothy Max Prior with additional reporting by Richard Cuming, Marigold Hughes, Miriam King and Mischa Twitchin.

Total Theatre Awards are made to the artists or companies presenting work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe deemed to be the best examples of physical and visual theatre/performance. In 2005, for the first time, the winners' list was an all-UK line-up. The winners' list demonstrates the range and quality of physical and visual theatre and performance work that has emerged from the UK in recent years. The line-up includes a high number of artists who work across boundaries of theatre, live art and multi-discipline performance, which gives a good indication of the direction in which experimental theatre/performance practice is moving currently. Interestingly, many of the winning shows are site-responsive works set outside regular theatre spaces – another indicator of significant current trends!

The six winning shows were announced at an exuberant and lively ceremony held at Aurora Nova St Stephen's on 26th August, compered by female sword-swallower extraordinaire Miss Behave (see Missing Link's website at to book her!).

The full list of winning shows is as follows

Andrew Dawson, Absence and Presence

Awarded for a moving and memorable one-person show with quiet gravitas by a performer who has developed the art of mime into a total theatre experience.

Dreamthinkspeak, Don’t Look Back

Awarded for a dreamy and reflective site-responsive piece that is so harmoniously attuned to its setting that in each site in which it is presented, it is hard to believe it could exist anywhere else.

Station House Opera, Roadmetal Sweetbread

Awarded for a visionary and challenging performance work that has stood the test of time, merging live and filmed action with a skill and artistic integrity that bears the mark of experience, from a company that has led the field in mixed-media performance for the past 25 years.

Kazuko Hohki, Evidence for the Existence of Borrowers

Awarded for the creation of a delightful alternative world filled with unusual objects and artefacts, quirky songs and tall tales about small people.

Gecko, The Race

Awarded for an exuberant and energetic physical theatre piece presented by a young company who have already made their mark.

Grid Iron, The Devil’s Larder

Awarded for a show that successfully marries the elements of text, physicality, music and sensitivity to site: if anything is total theatre, this is it!

Congratulations also go to the other shortlisted artists, who battled through a nominations list of hundreds to reach the final twelve:

Soma, Cabaret Decadanse; Matilda Leyser, Lifeline; Walk the Plank / Mark Murphy, SWALK; NoFit State Circus, Immortal 2, Rainpan 43, All Wear Bowlers; Blind Summit, Low Life. All of these artists and companies presented excellent work.

Longlisted shows (other than the above) considered for the Awards 2005 were: Lost Dog, The Drowner; Sorcerer Baklava Company, A World in your Shell-Like; Darren Johnson, REN-SA; Peepolykus, All In The Timing; Gamarjobat, A Shut Up Comedy from Japan; Sound and Fury in collaboration with Shunt Artists, Ether Frolics; 7K Theatre, Shadows; Jo Stromgren Kompani, The Hospital; Do-Theatre, Sleep...less...ness; Company FZ, Loser.

Special mention also to our two 'Wild Cards' who entered the race at a late stage after being highly commended by members of the advisory panel: Curious, On the Scent and Vanishing Point, The Lost Ones.

Presiding Judges for the Awards were Total Theatre Magazine editor Dorothy Max Prior and Total Theatre Network board representative Professor Anthony Dean (Dean of Faculty, Performing Arts, University of Winchester). Judging meetings facilitated and overseen by Total Theatre Network director Felicity Hall. Awards project manager: Tansy Lihou.

Total Theatre Awards Judges Advisory Panel: Louise Blackwell (producer, Fuel and formerly BAC), Chenine Bhathena (circus / physical theatre producer and manager/co-producer of Circelation), Mary Brennan (live art / dance critic, The Herald), Richard Cuming (Head of Performing Arts, University of Winchester / Total Theatre Magazine editorial group), Marigold Hughes (performer/director and Total Theatre Magazine contributor), Donald Hutera (dance critic, The Times), Miriam King (freelance artist/filmmaker and Total Theatre Magazine editorial group), Helen Lannaghan and Joseph Seelig (joint directors, London International Mime Festival), Martin Sutherland (Director of The Corn Exchange and New Greenham Arts Newbury), Mischa Twitchin (a founder-member of Shunt performance collective / Total Theatre Magazine editorial group).

Our thanks go to all our Advisory Panel, to John Daniel from British Council (former editor of Total Theatre Magazine) for all his help and support, to our reviewer/assessors, to Aurora Nova who hosted the Awards ceremony, to compere Miss Behave and Awards presenters Jonathan Holloway (chair of Total Theatre Network board) and Nelson Fernandez (director of Visiting Arts), to the participating venues, and to all the artists and companies who entered the Total Theatre Awards 2005.

Last but not least, a big thank you to our sponsors, University of Winchester, without whose generous support the Total Theatre Awards 2003-2005 would not have been possible. Sponsorship is now being sought for 2006. To talk to us about sponsorship packages and relationships, please contact Felicity Hall on 020 7729 7944 or at

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-4
p. 17