Dunedin theatre honoured at awards

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Dunedin’s theatre community came out to play on Monday night, recognising and celebrating excellence, at the 7th annual Dunedin Theatre Awards.
Presented by the Dunedin Theatre Reviewers’ Collective and hosted by Barry Dorking and “living taonga” Louise Petherbridge, the ceremony was held at the Fortune Theatre.
The Dunedin Theatre Reviewers’ Collective, which comprises Terry MacTavish, Helen Watson White, Barbara Frame, Brenda Harwood and Kim Buchan, recognised a wide range of Dunedin productions and theatre companies at the ceremony.
The extraordinary breadth and quality of the theatre on offer this year had made selecting the finalists and award winners “incredibly difficult”, the collective said.
The major awards included production of the year, which went to the Fortune Theatre for its technologically advanced one-woman show Grounded, and director of the year, which went to Keith Scott for his efforts in helming the Globe Theatre’s ambitious and successful costume drama Mary Stuart.
Best performance in a male role went to Simon O’Connor for Krapp in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, while two awards were given for outstanding performance in a female role –¬†Claire Chitham for The Pilot in Grounded (contemporary role) and Helen Fearnley for Queen Mary in Mary Stuart (classical role).
The award for outstanding ensemble 2016 went to the cast of The Skriker (Little Scorpion Productions), the script/narrative award to Paul Baker for Winston’s Birthday, the innovation award to Circus Alice (Brophy Aerials), outstanding use of digital technologies to Grounded, the set design award to Peter King for Winston’s Birthday (Fortune Theatre/Court Theatre), the costume design award to Charmian Smith for Mary Stuart, and the lighting design award to Martyn Roberts for wairua A linenear.
Several special awards recognised outstanding contributions to Dunedin and New Zealand theatre. Arts Festival Dunedin director Nicholas McBryde was recognised for his efforts in making the festival an ongoing success, while the Globe Theatre received a special Shakespeare 400 award for its production of Comedy of Errors, directed by Ellie Swann.
Theatreview founder John Smythe, who travelled from Auckland to attend the awards ceremony, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to New Zealand Theatre. The comprehensive reviewing website, which has published more than 9700 reviews from across the country during the past 11 years, faces an uncertain future due to funding issues.