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Emma Rice and Rosemary Squire win first Tonic Awards for women in theatre

Winners at the Tonic Theatre Awards. Photo: Adam Bennett Winners at the Tonic Theatre Awards. Photo: Adam Bennett
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Emma Rice, Rosemary Squire and the Donmar Warehouse’s all-female Shakespeare trilogy were named among the first winners of the Tonic Awards, celebrating women in theatre.

The inaugural ceremony was run by Tonic Theatre, set up in 2011 to improve gender equality within the theatre industry.

Nine awards were given out, with individuals and productions recognised for their contribution to the industry and the art form.

Squire – who co-founded and ran Ambassador Theatre Group with Howard Panter from its inception in 1992 until last year – said: “I’m extremely proud tonight. This is the only award ever in theatre that I have won by myself. This is very special and much appreciated.”

Tanika Gupta and Emma Rice at the awards. Photo: Adam Bennett

Shakespeare’s Globe artistic director Rice, who will step down next year, added: “[At the Globe] suddenly I had something I hadn’t really had before and that was power. I thought I had to use my power for good and that’s what I went into the Globe to do. That’s what I did. I know that and I’m so proud of what we achieved in such a short time.”

She added that in her first year 48% of the company’s performers were women.

Other winners included Tricycle Theatre artistic director Indhu Rubasingham, children’s theatremaker Anna Newell and Eclipse Theatre’s artistic director Dawn Walton.

The National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre’s production of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour also picked up an award, alongside lighting designer Paule Constable and Jenny Sealey, artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company.

Sealey used her acceptance speech to pay tribute to the work she had done over the past 20 years at Graeae, but warned of the ongoing cuts facing deaf and disabled people.

“We need all of you on board to help us fight it. They [funding cuts] are destroying us, and if we absolutely believe in true diversity in theatre, that’s what we need,” she said.

The awards were presented by broadcaster Jenni Murray. Individual presenters included Tanika Gupta, Adrian Lester, Sonia Friedman and Tanya Moodie.

The ceremony took place on March 29 at the May Fair Hotel in central London.

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