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Europe Theatre Prize: Jeremy Irons and Isabelle Huppert to be celebrated in Rome

Jeremy Irons and Isabelle Huppert. Photo: Shutterstock
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Jeremy Irons and Isabelle Huppert have been announced as the joint winners of the 16th Europe Theatre Prize, which they will receive at a ceremony in Rome in December, to be attended by a host of leading figures in European theatre.

It is the first time that actors have been honoured since the ninth award went to Michel Piccoli in 2001. Other past winners have included Peter Brook, Pina Bausch and Harold Pinter.

This year’s awards go to two performers who bestride the worlds of both film and theatre: Huppert, whose performance in Elle won her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination in 2016, has played Mary Stuart at the National Theatre and toured internationally in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis and as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Irons’ career began with Godspell in 1971 and continued through Brideshead Revisited and major Shakespearean roles to Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which he premiered at Bristol Old Vic in 2016 and which transfers to the West End next year. Other awards he has received include a Tony, an Oscar and two Golden Globes.

Both Irons and Huppert are recipients of France’s honorary Cesar awards for their film work, while Huppert has been nominated for more Molieres (the French version of the Oliviers) than any other actress.

Alongside the main prizewinners, Rome will welcome the six winners of the 14th Europe Prize for Theatrical Realities, for those making waves in European theatre today. Previous winners include the Royal Court and, last year, the National Theatre of Scotland.

This year’s choices are Susanne Kennedy from Germany, Jernej Lorenci from Slovenia, Yael Ronen from Israel, Alessandro Sciarroni from Italy, Kirill Serebrennikov from Russia and the group Theatre NO99 from Estonia.

Reaching out beyond Europe, the organisers are also giving a special award to playwright, provocateur and Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, with a special mention to Fadhel Jaibi, director of Tunisia’s National Theatre.

Serebrennikov will not be able to attend the event to collect his prize, since he is under house arrest in Moscow, but it is hoped that his theatre company from the Gogol Centre will be there to present one of his productions in a very crowded week of performances, conversations and meetings of the bodies behind the award, including the Union of European Theatres, the International Theatre Institute and the International Association of Theatre Critics.

As well as performances from most of the Theatre Realities winners, two previous winners of the prize itself will have their work on show in Rome – Peter Stein, with a Richard II, and Robert Wilson, with his signature piece Hamletmachine. There is also talk that the two prize winners may come together at the final ceremony to star in a joint reading.

This year’s event has been made possible through the help of Italy’s president and ministry of culture, as part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and the creation of the G7 group of countries. Preparations are well under way for the next edition of the prize, which will take place towards the end of 2018 or in early 2019 in another European capital.

Details of the Europe Theatre Prize and the Europe Prize for Theatrical Realities are at premio-europa.org

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