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Nicholas Hytner’s Balancing Acts wins 2018 Theatre Book Prize

Nicholas Hytner, right, with Rory Kinnear, who presented him with the 2018 Theatre Book Prize

A book by former National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner about his time in the job has won the 2018 Theatre Book Prize.

Balancing Acts, which charts Hytner’s 12-year reign at the National, has been named the best book on British theatre published within the past year.

The annual award is given by the Society for Theatre Research, and was presented to Hytner by the actor Rory Kinnear at a ceremony at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on June 21.

Kinnear appeared in eight productions at the National during Hytner’s tenure.

The judges for this year’s awards included Orange Tree Theatre artistic director Paul Miller, theatre critic Sam Marlowe, cultural historian Jeffrey Richards and Howard Loxton, from the Society for Theatre Research.

Miller said of Hytner’s book: “This is a notably candid book from such a famously private person. It opens with a bravura account, flirting with gossip but keeping this side of naming names, of one typical day in the life of the director of the National Theatre.

“His book makes a fantastic case, at once sophisticated and robust, for a theatre with a generous popular gesture at its heart: a gloriously fitting coda to 12 years at the National Theatre where he showed us how that’s done.”

The book is published by Jonathan Cape.

It was chosen from 60 entries, with a shortlist that also included [1] Black British Drama: A Transnational Story, by Michael Pearce, Julie Ackroyd’s Child Actors on the London Stage, c1600 and Costume in Performance by Donatella Barbieri.

Also nominated were Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley’s London Theatres and Shakespeare on Stage: Vol 2 – Twelve Leading Actors on Twelve Key Roles by Julian Curry.