Monday’s Evening Standard launched the advance guard of the next round of London theatre awards, with the publication of its “longlist” from which the final nominations list will be drawn (following hard on the heels of the Theatre Awards UK that had been presented just the day before that honour UK-wide theatre, not just London). A shortlist will follow on November 12, then the results announced at a ceremony at the Savoy Hotel on November 25.
It is, I suppose, a canny way of spreading out the publicity potential for it, which of course is the point of the awards for the paper. (It would, however, have been useful if a PR somewhere had bothered to send the list to journalists on other titles, though, if they wanted us to cover it.)
The Standard Awards have been going longer than any other in London theatre, founded in 1955 (7 years before I was born!), so they are now in their 58th year, which certainly makes them old (and me feel young, at least). Reviewing the longlist does give one pause to reflect, as ever, on how much great theatre happens in London – and also regret the occasional thing I missed, like the Royal Court’s The Witness (the only candidate for the Best Play that I didn’t see), Pippa Bennett-Warner’s performance in the latter, and a few of those mentioned for most promising playwright, Ishy Din’s Snookered and Vickie Donoghue’s Mudlarks, and Nicholas Pierpan’s You Can Still Make a Killing. I also missed outstanding newcomer mention Denise Gough in both of the plays that she was noticed for, Our New Girl and Desire Under the Elms.
Yep, even going to the theatre as much as I do, I don’t see everything. As Michael Coveney noted in his blog on Monday, we’re covering a London theatrical landscape where there’s “far too much of it going on and far too rapid a turnover of product” – but even with the potential liberation afforded by the internet for “virtually limitless possibilities of review coverage”, we’re still limited by time:
One thing that won’t change is the number of hours in the day and days in the week (not so far as we know, anyway), so all dedicated critics, reporters, bloggers, etc, fight to make room in their lives for the deserving causes that invariably go missing a lot of the time in their schedules.
It’s a theme I keep returning to in this blog, as I drown in an avalanche of requests to see shows and struggle to keep up. I’m also involved in some of the deserving causes myself that attempt to recognise those deserving causes: last night I attended a panel meeting for the Offies Awards, talking to some of the assessors who provide the judging panel of which I am a member with their eyes and ears to see everything that we can’t (the ceremony itself takes place February 24 at BAC’s Grand Hall). And next Tuesday I’ll be at the National Theatre Studio to help present this year’s Empty Space Awards, of which I’m a judge, too. The dazzling first-nighter that is Blanche Marvin, who set up and runs the awards which are now in their 23rd year, will be 88 in January, and is still at the theatre virtually every night. I can’t wait to hear her on Desert Island Discs on Friday November 16.
Then Whatsonstage.com launch their own, publicly voted annual awards ceremony with a party to announce the shortlist on December 7, at the West End’s Cafe de Paris. It is then followed by the Awards concert, taking place this year at the Palace Theatre on February 17, when the winners are revealed.
In between the Whatsonstage awards shortlist party and the awards concert comes the annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards in January, of which I am involved once again as the host in my capacity as chairman of the drama section.
Finally, the Olivier Awards this year move even later to the end of April – they’ll be held at the Royal Opera House, where they were also staged for the first time this year, on April 28.