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Caryl Churchill and Katie Mitchell among winners of awards celebrating women in theatre

Tonic awards winners Katie Mitchell, Lyn Gardner and Caryl Churchill. Credits: Stephen Cummiskey, Frank Baron and Marc Brenner Tonic awards winners Katie Mitchell, Lyn Gardner and Caryl Churchill. Credits: Stephen Cummiskey, Frank Baron and Marc Brenner
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Caryl Churchill, Katie Mitchell and Lyn Gardner are among the recipients of the second annual Tonic Awards for women in theatre.

Other winners included Gina Abolins and Steffi Holtz, who spoke out about their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace, and Irish campaigners Waking the Feminists.

The awards are held by Tonic Theatre, which works to achieve gender quality in theatre.

Churchill was celebrated for a playwriting career in which she has led the way for a new generation of female writers, while Mitchell was given an award for her dedication to foregrounding feminism on stage and for proactive support of younger female artists.

Gardner won for showcasing new voices and productions through her work as a theatre critic and journalist.

Holtz and Abolins were among the first to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment in the theatre industry, when they claimed they had been subjected to inappropriate behaviour and comments by former Out of Joint artistic director Max Stafford-Clark.

Waking the Feminists led a “brave and creative” campaign to make change in Irish theatre, after the Abbey Theatre in Dublin announced a centenary programme with a line-up including just one woman. The accolade was presented to campaign director Lian Bell.

Other winners included National Theatre Wales artistic director Kully Thiarai for her dedication to the community in organisations she has led, while Sarah Frankcom picked up an award on behalf of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, where she is artistic director, for the consistency with which the theatre has championed work about women.

The Society of London Theatre’s Emma de Souza won for bringing new audiences into the West End through the annual Kids Week, while Clean Break Theatre Company was recognised for its 40 years of work with women in the criminal justice system. It was presented to the company’s chief executive Lucy Perman.

The awards were held at a ceremony in central London, with presenters including Vicky Featherstone, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Maxine Peake and Moira Buffini.

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