Total Theatre Awards for Physical and Visual Performance

Feature in Issue 18-4 | Winter 2006

Report by Dorothy Max Prior with contributions from the Total Theatre in Edinburgh editorial team: John Ellingsworth, Marigold Hughes, Miriam King, Beccy Smith, Cassie Werber.

Total Theatre Awards are made to artists or companies presenting work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe deemed to be the best examples of physical and visual theatre/performance.

The 2006 winners were announced at a warm-hearted and lively ceremony held at the Assembly Rooms, compered by the inimitably gorgeous New York performance artist Taylor Mac, with the help of lovely hostess with the mostest, Miss High Leg Kick (herself a previous Award winner with Duckie’s C’est Vauxhall in 2003).

The Awards ceremony was sponsored by Central School of Speech and Drama, and Total Theatre Awards 2006 received further sponsorship from the University of Winchester.

We offer hearty congratulations to our winners, and commendations to the shortlisted, longlisted and wildcard nominees who made it to the final list of 22 shows from our starting list of around 200 nominees!

TOTAL THEATRE AWARD WINNERS 2006

Hysteria
Inspector Sands and Stamping Ground Theatre
Aurora Nova

Awarded for the integration of space, sound, light and physical performance into a whole theatre that is more than the sum of its parts.

Award presented by Jonathan Holloway, chair of Total Theatre board and director of Norwich and Norfolk Festival.

Past Half Remembered
NIE New International Encounter
Pleasance Courtyard

Awarded for ensemble work which weaves together live music, physical action, and a multitude of languages to tell stories that go straight to the heart.

Award presented by Sue McCormack, director of SETA (Southern England Touring Agency).

Floating
Hoipolloi
Pleasance Courtyard

Awarded for agitating the boundaries of theatre, creating worlds within worlds of illusion and delusion.

Award presented by Linda Lewis, independent producer and former director of Visions Festival.

Sclavi / Song of an Emigrant
Farm in the Cave
Aurora Nova

Awarded for a show full of passion and commitment, which marries magnificent voice work, dynamic movement and energetic live percussion.

Award presented by Jaine Lumsden, drama officer, Scottish Arts Council.

TOTAL THEATRE BEST NEWCOMERS AWARD

And Even My Goldfish
Chotto Ookii
C Central

Awarded to a young company deemed to be best newcomers for a show bubbling over with sparkling ideas, surreal humour and seductive choreography.

Award presented by Dorothy Max Prior, editor, Total Theatre Magazine.

TOTAL THEATRE AWARD FOR INNOVATION, GIVEN IN ASSOCIATION WITH CENTRAL SCHOOL OF SPEECH AND DRAMA

The Receipt
Will Adamsdale / Chris Branch
Assembly Rooms @ George St

Awarded for an innovative use, within the devising process and in performance, of the elements of sound composition, physical performance and comedy.

Award presented by Dr Sophie Nield, head of the Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre at Central School of Speech and Drama, London.

TOTAL THEATRE AWARD FOR SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO PHYSICAL AND VISUAL THEATRE/ PERFORMANCE, GIVEN IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF WINCHESTER

Battersea Arts Centre (BAC)

Awarded for their sustained support over many years for physical, devised and visual theatre; for their mentoring of emerging and established artists and companies; and for their development of the role of the creative producer. Given in acknowledgement of the high number of companies performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe whose work has been developed or supported by BAC.

Award presented by Professor Anthony Dean, dean of Faculty of Arts at the University of Winchester, and member of Total Theatre board and editorial forum.

BACMORE THAN A VENUE

In the past, ‘special’ Total Theatre Awards (variously called ‘lifetime achievement’ or ‘significant contribution’) have been made to artists or companies who have – as performers, directors or teachers – had a major impact on the physical, devised and visual theatre sector. Recipients of these special Awards have included Nola Rae, Derevo, and Monica Pagneaux.

Total Theatre Awards 2006 took an interesting new direction with a decision to give an Award not to an artist or theatre company, but to a venue: BAC (Battersea Arts Centre) in London.

BAC was given the Total Theatre Award for Significant Contribution for a combination of reasons. It was an acknowledgement that over the years BAC has been not only one of the key venues for the presentation of ‘total theatre’ work, but also a programming and producing house which has had a highly significant effect on UK theatre.

The first strand of that acknowledgement was ‘for their sustained support over many years for physical, devised and visual theatre’. BAC has just celebrated its 25th birthday and over those years, it has been a consistent programmer of interesting new work from new faces and old friends. For a number of years, BAC hosted the British Festival of Visual Theatre; this has since morphed into OctoberFest and, for 2006, the Imagination Festival. Names to drop who have been included in one or other of these festivals, or in the year-round programme, include Complicite, Lumiere and Son, DV8, David Glass, Faulty Optic, Kneehigh, Shared Experience, The Right Size…

The second was ‘for their mentoring of emerging and established artists and companies’, for example, through schemes such as the Ladder of Development, and the influential Scratch/Freshly Scratched nights, which give artists the opportunity to try out new ideas in front of an audience. Jerry Springer The Opera is one example of a show developed through this scheme. The Supported Artists scheme offers, as BAC puts it, ‘support to a handful of artists that have shown extraordinary talent as theatre-makers’. It is targeted at early-to-mid-career artists who BAC producers feel would significantly benefit from creative and organisational development: 2006 supported artists include Punchdrunk and Hush Productions. BAC Associate Artists are engaged in a five-year relationship with the venue; they receive ongoing support and are also expected to give mentoring support to emerging artists. Current associates include Clod Ensemble, Guy Dartnell, and two former BAC directors, Jude Kelly and Tom Morris.

BAC were also awarded ‘for their development of the role of the creative producer’. The creative producer, actively engaged with the development of new work, plays a vital role at BAC. Artistic director David Jubb is a former BAC development producer; he was then based at BAC with Your Imagination (producers of BAC-supported artists Ridiculusmus and Kazuko Hohki, amongst others), and that experience has informed his approach to the directorship. Another BAC name on the ‘creative producer’ roster is Louise Blackwell, who with Jubb was instrumental in setting up the Scratch/ Ladder of Development programmes, and who is now working with Fuel (supported by a joint BAC/Jerwood Producers scheme), who are producers of Gecko’s The Race (a 2005 Award winner) and Will Adamsdale/Chris Branch’s The Receipt (a 2006 winner).

Finally, this special Award was given in acknowledgement of the high number of companies performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe whose work has been developed or supported by BAC. A look at the shows that have won Awards in 2006 bears testament to this: The Receipt, Hysteria, and Past Half Remembered have all, in different ways, been helped along the way by BAC.

So a significant contribution over the past quarter-century, without a doubt. But where to now? David Jubb, speaking at BAC’s 25th-birthday bash (held on a Routemaster bus, September 2006) had this to say: ‘I think the best way for BAC to celebrate its 25th anniversary is to look forwards. So that’s exactly what we’re doing with four key events across our 25th year. The Imagination Festival: OctoberFest 2006 positions the creativity of the audience at the heart of new theatre. We have the most special Christmas show in the UK with Rapunzel by Annie Siddons directed by Emma Rice in a co-production between BAC and BAC Associate Artists Kneehigh. We will be hosting the year’s largest debate about the future of theatre with Improbable (in Devoted and Disgruntled). And to top it off we’re asking people under twentyfive years old what they think of today’s theatre by taking them on the ultimate tour of theatre: on a bus. The 25th Birthday Bus Tour will lead to a festival of new theatre at BAC that is created and experienced exclusively by people under 25. Our 25th birthday is simply asking the question…what happens next?

SHORTLISTED SHOWS:

Knots – Coisceim Dance (Aurora Nova)
Spymonkey Cooped – Spymonkey (Assembly Rooms @ George St)
Street Life – Renegade (Aurora Nova)
The Convent – Jo Strømgren Kompani (Aurora Nova)
The Family Semianyki – Teatr Licedei (Assembly Rooms @ St George’s West)
The Garden – Shams Theatre (Pleasance Dome)

LONGLISTED SHOWS:

Crunch! – Tangram Theatre Company (Pleasance Courtyard)
Food – theimaginarybody (The Traverse)
Ketzal – Derevo (Aurora Nova)
La Clique (The Spiegelgarden)
Little Red Things – Gomito Productions (Bedlam Theatre)
My Polish Roots (and Other Vegetables) – Karola Gajda/Peta Lily (Gilded Balloon)
No Obvious Trauma – Unpacked (Pleasance Courtyard) OUTRÉ – Darren Johnston/array (Aurora Nova)
Wildcards: Insomnobabble – Big Wow in association with Richard Jordan Productions Ltd (Smirnoff Underbelly)
Ovo – Udi Grudi (George Square Theatre)

PRESIDING JUDGES FOR THE AWARDS 2006:

Dorothy Max Prior –Total Theatre Magazine editor Felicity Hall – Total Theatre Network director Professor Anthony Dean – Total Theatre Network board representative Total Theatre Awards Judging Advisory Panel: Mary Brennan (live art/dance critic, The Herald), Marigold Hughes (performer/director and member of Total Theatre Magazine editorial forum), Donald Hutera (dance critic, The Times), Miriam King (freelance artist/filmmaker and member of Total Theatre Magazine editorial forum), Martin Sutherland (Director of The Corn Exchange and New Greenham Arts Newbury) Beccy Smith (freelance dramaturg and former director of Puppet Centre Trust), Ric Watts (independent producer), Nick Wood (course leader MA Advanced Theatre Practice, Central School of Speech and Drama).

Our thanks go to our Judging Advisory Panel, to our stalwart team of reviewers and assessors, to Awards ceremony compere Taylor Mac and hostess Miss High Leg Kick, to the Awards presenters, the Assembly Rooms, all the participating venues, and to all the artists and companies who entered the Total Theatre Awards 2006. Last but not least, a big thank you to our sponsors, Central School of Speech and Drama and the University of Winchester, without whose generous support the Total Theatre Awards 2006 would not have been possible.