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The Editor’s View: Celebrating the scope and scale of our industry

Stage door manager Ned Seago won Unsung Hero at The Stage Awards 2017. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge Stage door manager Ned Seago won Unsung Hero at The Stage Awards 2017. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
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I spent Friday afternoon in the Grand Saloon of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane with about 450 like-minded souls, celebrating the best and brightest of the theatre industry.

The Stage Awards are unique in that they recognise theatremakers of all types and scales from across the whole of the UK – and beyond.

I can’t think of any other ceremonies where you can find the biggest commercial producer in the land, Sonia Friedman – fresh from picking up an OBE from Prince Charles – sharing a podium with a stage door manager.

That stage door manager was Ned Seago, who deservedly received our Unsung Hero award this year for his 30 years of service at London’s Old Vic. It is always the most joyous of our awards because it recognises people who aren’t regularly celebrated by our industry.

Previous recipients have included a casting director, a stage manager, a head of wardrobe, a box office manager, a theatre manager, a technician, a chaperone and even a long-serving theatre cafe manager. All these roles are crucial to the success of our industry, but rarely get the airtime they deserve. Indeed, in a sector that is awash with awards ceremonies, it strikes me that there is still room to better celebrate backstage and front-of-house staff.

The winners were not as geographically spread this year as they have been previously. While the nominations were broad, many of our winners were based in London – even if, like Complicite and Matthew Bourne, they were recognised for work elsewhere.

But, looking back on the seven years of the awards, there has been an impressive regional diversity – with winners from Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, Southampton, Sheffield, Birmingham, Chichester, Wigan, Liverpool and Northampton.

The winning theatres have also varied dramatically in scale – our smallest winner had 45 seats, our biggest had more than 2,000. We have celebrated theatres-in-the-round, touring companies, youth theatres, open-air theatre, a cross-cultural arts centre, dance and musical theatre.

No opera or circus yet, but we have had puppetry and A Play, a Pie and a Pint. This is a true reflection of theatre’s marvellous variety and the remarkable achievements of the passionate staff working within it.

We at The Stage are delighted – and proud – to be able to celebrate that in all its glory. Or, as one of our guests put it this year: “There are theatre awards aplenty, but The Stage Awards really get to the beating heart of the business.”

Email your views to alistair@thestage.co.uk

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