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New awards launched to honour classical theatre

The Royal Shakespeare Company will translate all of Shakespeare's works into Mandarin.
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An awards ceremony dedicated entirely to classical theatre – which its organisers claim will be the first of its kind in the UK – will be launched in September.

Created by theatre company Owle Schreame, the 13 awards aim to recognise innovation in classical theatre.

The company said the Owle Schreame awards would honour the “experimental, the obscure, the courageous, the rough, the important and the cutting-edge”.

“We exist to promote, to applaud and to connect. Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Shakespeare Company may be the exciting mainstream of classical theatre, but they are not the entirety; these awards exist to give some of the most imaginative artists, practitioners and devotees an acknowledgement and an applause, to put them in a room together talking about their work, and perhaps to give an amplification where they would otherwise go unheard,” the company said.

Brice Stratford, the artistic director of Owle Schreame, said the awards were created when the theatre company began looking at ways it could mark Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.

“We started looking into it and found that there aren’t really awards that encourage classical theatre in the way there are a great number of awards that encourage fringe theatre or West End theatre,” he said, adding that, while there were ceremonies such as the Ian Charleson awards, these tended to honour individual performances. Owle Schreame’s awards will recognise a variety of people and companies, with categories rewarding areas such as experimental classical theatre, courage in classical theatre and academic contribution to classical theatre.

Stratford said the awards judges, made up of staff from the theatre company, had been searching for work “off the beaten track”.

He added that classical, for the purpose of the awards, was defined as anything 19th century and earlier.

When the awards (which will be an engraved glass skull) are presented, the winners will be invited to talk about their projects, conception and “ethos in creating classical theatre”.

These will be recorded and made available for future viewing and reference.

The awards will be presented on September 14 at the George Inn in Southwark.

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