Scottish theatre awards shortlist announced

The Venetian Twins has picked up two nominations. Picture: Alan McCredie/Roddie Jack

The Venetian Twins has picked up two nominations. Picture: Alan McCredie/Roddie Jack

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THE countdown is under way to the biggest date in the Scottish theatre calendar after the contenders for its annual awards ceremony were unveiled.

A long-running theatre that had its funding cut ahead of its 50th anniversary and a company that was forced to wind up after losing its backing completely dominate the shortlist.

Scotland’s famous lunchtime theatre show has also emerged strongly, with two contenders for the nation’s best new play, while there are fresh signs of a renaissance for children’s shows.

However, two of Scotland’s most popular stage productions of last year drew a blank completely in the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland (Cats) shortlist.

The James Plays filled the Festival Theatre during the Edinburgh International Festival before going on to wow audiences in London, while Still Game’s revival at the Hydro broke all box office records there.

However Rona Munro’s epilogy trilogy - set in 15th century Scotland - was deemed not good enough to merit a mention in any of the 10 categories, while Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill’s massive hit was said to be not Scottish enough, as it was staged over 21 nights at the Hydro in Glasgow by an English production company.

An incredulous Hemphill told his Twitter followers: “Written by Scots, performed by Scots, in Scotland. Not Scottish. Hahaha!”

A spokeswoman for the awards said: “We have our criteria, which involves the show being produced in Scotland - this was show was in fact produced by a production company in London.

“It’s not about the cast being Scottish or ‘how Scottish it is - the show was well researched and its production is, in fact, in London.”

Mark Fisher, co-convenor of the judging panel, said: “The rule we have for eligibility is that a show must be substantially produced in Scotland.

“This is the best method we’ve found to make sure we celebrate work created in Scotland, as opposed to, say, a group of Scottish actors putting on a show in London. And this is the criterion we applied to Still Game which, although performed in Scotland, was produced by London-based Phil McIntyre Entertainments.”

Launched 11 years ago, the gala ceremony, to be staged next month at The Tron in Glasgow, honours acting, directing, design, writing and musical talent, as well as children’s theatre. ­Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre dominates the nominations for the “Scottish theatre Oscars”, just months after a 17.5 per cent funding cut from national arts agency Creative Scotland for the next three years.

Ahead of celebrations for its 50th anniversary in October, six shows staged at the Lyceum over the last year have scooped 17 nominations across eight categories of the Cats Awards. The theatre was furious last autumn after being singled out, along with the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, for funding cuts – despite the body finding an extra £10 million for long-term agreements with venues and festivals.

At the time, Lyceum artistic director Mark Thomson said it had been hit with a “perverse punishment for acknowledged success”. Thomson announced his surprise departure from the post last week – he will leave after the end of the 50th anniversary season in the spring.

He said: “The company and I are thrilled so many of our productions have been celebrated by the Cats Awards this year and in my penultimate season here.

“It is a wonderfully rewarding finale to a year where everyone who works here, the artists and staff, have journeyed with creativity and hard work on some amazing pieces so the people of Edinburgh and beyond can have great nights out at the theatre.”

Three Lyceum shows – The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Faith Healer and The Venetian Twins – will be in contention for best production at the awards, while The Venetian Twins is also in contention for best new play, with Kill Johnny Glendenning.

Fisher added: “As the Royal Lyceum enters its 50th year, it is particularly apt that the company has attracted such a wealth of nominations for its recent season in which it fired on all cylinders.”

A Play, a Pie and a Pint launched in Glasgow in 2004 and went on to become the UK’s most successful lunchtime theatre strand. It is in the running for best new play for Andy Duffy’s Crash and Martin ­McCormack’s Squash, both staged in partnership with the Traverse.

Glasgow company ­Untitled Projects, which was forced to go “dormant” in January after being rejected for funding by Creative Scotland, has won a best director nod for artistic director for the show Slope, which is also nominated for best production, best technical presentation and best design.

Laura Mackenzie-Stuart, Creative Scotland’s theatre portfolio manager, said: “The list of nominations illustrates the breadth of high-quality work currently being produced in Scotland. Nominees range from venerable institutions to talented individuals, for work aimed across the ages, and an immense and imaginative span of subjects.”

THE SHORTLIST

Best New Play;

Tony Cownie, The Venetian Twins, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Andy Duffy, Crash, A Play, a Pie and a Pint and Traverse Theatre

DC Jackson, Kill Johnny Glendenning, Royal Lyceum Theatre and Citizens Theatre

Martin McCormick, Squash, A Play, a Pie and a Pint and Traverse Theatre

Best Production:

The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Faith Healer, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Slope, Untitled Projects, Citizens Theatre and Traverse Theatre

The Venetian Twins, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Best Male Performance:

Brian Ferguson, Hamlet, Citizens Theatre

Keith Fleming, The Call of the Wild, A Play, a Pie and a Pint

Sean O’Callaghan, Faith Healer, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Grant O’Rourke, The Venetian Twins, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Best Female Performance:

Nicola Daley, Hedda Gabler, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Meg Fraser, Woman in Mind, Dundee Rep Ensemble and Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Jenny Hulse, The Voice Thief, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company

Amy Manson, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Best Ensemble:

Bondagers, Royal Lyceum Theatre

The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Royal Lyceum Theatre

The Libertine, Citizens Theatre

The Venetian Twins, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Best Director:

John Dove, Faith Healer, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Tony Cownie, The Venetian Twins, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Stewart Laing, Slope, Untitled Projects, KILTR, Citizens Theatre and Traverse Theatre

Mark Thomson, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Royal Lyceum Theatre

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