Celebrating the Achievements of Women in Theatre
Wednesday 29 March 2017
May Fair Theatre, London
The Tonic Awards celebrate the achievements of women who are changing the face of our theatre industry, and the projects and productions that are redefining the role of women in the performing arts. We created the Awards so that the amazing contributions of women to theatre can be highlighted publicly – not just the doom and gloom stories about under-representation – and so that younger women in particular have visible role models to aspire to.
The inaugural Tonic Awards took place on Wednesday 29 March 2017 at the May Fair Theatre within the May Fair Hotel. It was hosted by broadcaster and journalist Jenni Murray DBE.
The 2017 Awards were generously supported by Boom Ents, Dewynters, JHI, Nick Hern Books and WhatsOnStage, and our headline sponsor White Light.
Logo kindly designed by Deywynters.
ROSEMARY SQUIRE OBE, presented by Sonia Friedman OBE.
Until recently Rosemary Squire was the co-owner and joint CEO of the Ambassador Theatre Group, a company that she co-founded with her husband, Sir Howard Panter. Starting with just one venue and reportedly running the business from the back seat of her car, ATG grew to be the global leader in live theatre, owning and operating over 40 venues worldwide as well as producing award-winning live theatre.
Phyllida Lloyd, Harriet Walter DBE, Kate Pakenham, Jade Anouka, Jackie Clune and Jennifer Joseph collected the award on behalf of the all-female SHAKESPEARE TRILOGY (Donmar Warehouse and beyond), presented by Tania Moodie
In 2012, Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production of Julius Caesar stunned audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and challenged the idea of ‘who owns Shakespeare?’ Two further productions (Henry IV and The Tempest) staged as a trilogy in rep have served to remind us how genuine diversity on stage challenges us to look at things differently; whether we are creating it, performing in it or watching it.
EMMA RICE, presented by Tanika Gupta
Emma Rice is honoured for her achievements in her first season as Artistic Director at Shakespeare’s Globe. Under her stewardship the stages of the Globe came to life with productions that were bold, brilliant and joyous. The proof of the pudding was in the audience numbers: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth played to 98% capacity and the remainder of the season at 93%.
ANNA NEWELL, presented by Moira Buffini
Anna Newell is known for her creative productions which prioritise marginalised audiences; for her innovative use of performance spaces that create ideal conditions for audiences who, either from age or ability, have slower cognitive processing; for staging portable performances which ensures her work is seen by the most disadvantaged families in Northern Ireland and for transforming our understanding of the positive impact theatre can have right from the day we are born.
INDHU RUBASINGHAM MBE, presented by Adrian Lester OBE
In 2012 Indhu Rubasingham became Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre, a post that she still holds today where she is currently overseeing a major capital project, alongside her work as a director. From her early days at the Theatre Royal Stratford East working as an assistant director on an Arts Council bursary, she has worked at venues across the county. She is passionate about diversity and what theatre can deliver to the local community and young people in particular – as seen with her initiatives Minding the Gap and Tricycle Takeover.
DAWN WALTON, presented by Karena Johnson
Dawn Walton is the Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre, Britain’s principal Black-led national touring company. However she is specifically honoured for her leadership of Eclipse’s Revolution Mix programme, which, taking place between 2015 and 2018, is the largest ever national delivery of Black British stories produced and performed in regional theatres. Her work with Revolution Mix has the potential to be game-changing in terms of how the Black British experience is depicted on stage.
JENNY SEALEY MBE, presented by Harriet Walter DBE
Jenny Sealey has been Artistic Director and CEO of Graeae Theatre Company since 1997. Under her leadership, Graeae has been at the forefront of challenging our preconceptions about disability theatre and Sealey has been its champion, especially when it comes to encouraging disabled actors’ participation in creative roles. In her own words about Romeo and Juliet “Shakespeare did not say whether Juliet was or wasn’t deaf, or blind, or disabled, so excuse me, we can be in any goddamn Shakespeare play that we want to be.”
PAULE CONSTABLE, presented by Bryan Raven, MD of White Light
Paule Constable is one of the UK’s leading lighting designers – a trail-blazing woman who is leading the field in a part of the industry that, more than many others, remains dominated by men. The productions she has lit across theatre, opera and dance are too numerous to name as are the awards she has won over the last two decades – which include 4 Oliviers, 3 LA Critics’ Circle Awards, 2 Tonys, 2 New York Critics’ Award and 2 New York Drama Desk Awards.
Vicky Featherstone accepted on behalf of the National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre production of OUR LADIES OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR presented by Lucy Kerbel
Based on the 1998 novel, The Sopranos by Alan Warner, Our Ladies… has been adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. Set over the course of a single day, the book follows a group of catholic schoolgirls from Oban let loose in the capital. With its all-female cast of six actors playing young women on the brink of adulthood who in turn sing like angels, the show is a glorious anthem to friendship, youth and growing up disgracefully.
If others followed @TonicTheatre and brought together diverse theatre makers, initiating conversations, just think what might arise…
— Jessica Swale (@jswale) March 30, 2017
The women who were honoured were outstanding and the atmosphere was collegiate and supportive. Thanks @TonicTheatre for an amazing evening! https://t.co/lDoSnoLhwm
— Tanya Moodie (@tanyamoodie) March 30, 2017
— Kate McGrath (@1KateMcGrath) March 30, 2017
— Ben Hewis (@benhewis) March 29, 2017
#TonicAwards have absolutely done that. What great recipients. Making such important and inspiring comments. And wonderful theatre. https://t.co/ojyWxXjKej
— Catherine Mallyon (@CathMallyon) March 30, 2017
— Gate Theatre (@gatetheatre) March 31, 2017