Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland

Published: 15 November 2020
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Tom McGovern in Peter Arnott’s The Signalman (Òran Mór)
Solaris (Royal Lyceum Edinburgh, the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne and the Lyric Hammersmith)
George Costigan in Faith Healer (Pitlochry Festival Theatre)
Anna Russell-Martin in The Panopticon
Thank You Very Much
Shona Reppe in Atlantis Banal - Beneath the Surface

The 2020 Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland were announced on Thursday.

The big winner was The Signalman which claimed the award for Best Male Performance for Tom McGovern, Best New Play for writer Peter Arnott and Best Production. Ken Alexander had also been nominated for Best Director.

In response to the award, Peter Arnott took the opportunity to call for a radical shakeup of the arts. Speaking of the unknown challenges ahead and his vision of a new framework for the arts going forward he said, "we're in much deeper trouble than we know and COVID is just the start of it…

"I have the uneasy feeling that people are acting as if someone is just going to throw a switch to put all the lights back on, and as if we can just pick up where we left off. I don't know anything for certain, but I do know that it's not going to be like that. And I think we are going to have to think some pretty radical thoughts about how we organise what it is we do for a living if any of us expect to do anything like it again.

"And I'm not talking about what we do online or how to space out a socially distanced audience… I'm talking about upending the entire structure of governance we inherited from the reinvention of culture at the end of World War II… and reinventing it all over again. Regional hubs, direct public ownership, a ministry of the arts, elected local and regional boards… everything… if we hope in ten years to have the prosperous and successful industry that our talent and our audiences deserve.”

CATS co-convenor Joyce McMillan reflected on "the tremendous year of work" and the exceptional difficulties being faced by the people who create theatre events.

A live ceremony for the Awards will take place when restrictions allow. In the meantime, says McMillan, "the celebration of these wonderful shows from 2019–20 will remind us of the sheer richness of Scotland’s theatre scene, of what we stand to lose if we don’t support our theatre-makers through this crisis and of how much there is to look forward to when our wonderful theatres are finally able to open their doors again."

Other notable winners at the 2020 CATS include Atlantis Banal: Beneath the Surface, Solaris and Thank You Very Much which each won two awards.

The Best Director award went to Elizabeth Newman of Pitlochry Festival Theatre for Faith Healer.

The judging panel for the 2020 CATS was made up of Mary Brennan of The Herald, Anna Burnside of the Daily Record, Neil Cooper of The Herald, Michael Cox of Across the Arts, Thom Dibdin of The Stage and AllEdinburghTheatre.com, Mark Fisher of The Guardian, Joyce McMillan of The Scotsman and freelance arts journalist David Pollock.

The winners and nominees for the 2020 Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland are:

Best Female Performance

  • Anna Russell-Martin - The Panopticon, National Theatre of Scotland
  • Nicole Cooper - Hamlet, Bard in the Botanics
  • Kirsty Stuart - The Duchess (of Malfi), Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Citizens Theatre
  • Kirsty Stuart - Faith Healer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Best Male Performance

  • Tom McGovern - The Signalman, A Play, a Pie and a Pint in association with the Traverse Theatre
  • George Costigan - Faith Healer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre
  • Barrie Hunter - Smile, Dundee Rep Ensemble
  • James McArdle - Peter Gynt, Edinburgh International Festival and National Theatre of Great Britain

Best Ensemble

  • Thank You Very Much, Manchester International Festival and National Theatre of Scotland
  • How Not To Drown, ThickSkin and Traverse Theatre Company, co-produced with Tron Theatre and Lawrence Batley Theatre
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, Perth Theatre
  • Tay Bridge, Dundee Rep Ensemble

Best Director

  • Elizabeth Newman - Faith Healer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre
  • Ken Alexander - The Signalman, A Play, a Pie and a Pint in association with the Traverse Theatre
  • Matthew Lenton - The Metamorphosis, Vanishing Point, Tron Theatre and Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
  • Matthew Luton - Solaris, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Malthouse Theatre and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Best Design (Joint Winners)

  • Shona Reppe - Atlantis Banal: Beneath The Surface, created with Vélo Théâtre, France, produced by Catherine Wheels
  • Hyemi Shin (set and costume), Paul Jackson (lighting), Tov Belling and Katie Milwright (cinematography), Toby Angwin (visual effects) - Solaris, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Malthouse Theatre and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre
  • Kenneth MacLeod (set and costume) and Simon Wilkinson (lighting) - The Metamorphosis, Vanishing Point, Tron Theatre and Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
  • Rachana Jadhav (book illustrator and set designer) and Karen Bryce (lighting), Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation, National Theatre of Scotland in association with the Royal Court Theatre, Teatro de Bairro Alto, Lisbon and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

Best Music and Sound

  • Matthias Hermann (sound designer and composer) - Thank You Very Much, Manchester International Festival and National Theatre of Scotland
  • Rob Hiley (musical director and arranger) and Chloe Dougan (sound designer) - Blonde Bombshells of 1943, Pitlochry Festival Theatre
  • Biff Smith (songs, lyrics and music) - The Dark Carnival: Unplugged, Vanishing Point
  • Carla J Easton (songs and music) and Fiona Johnston (sound design and club mix) - Them!, National Theatre of Scotland

Best Technical Presentation

  • Solaris, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Malthouse Theatre and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre
  • The Afflicted, Groupwork in association with ThickSkin and support from Tramway
  • Atlantis Banal: Beneath The Surface, Shona Reppe, created with Vélo Théâtre, France, produced by Catherine Wheels
  • The Steamie, Neil Laidlaw and Jason Haigh-Ellery in association with Stephen McGill

Best Production for Children and Young People

  • Atlantis Banal: Beneath the Surface, Shona Reppe, created with Vélo Théâtre, France, produced by Catherine Wheels
  • The Secret Garden, Red Bridge Arts in association with Platform
  • Sound Symphony, Ellie Griffiths, Independent Arts Projects in association with Capital Theatres
  • This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing, Imaginate and Stellar Quines with support from MacRobert Arts Centre

Best New Play

  • Peter Arnott - The Signalman, A Play, a Pie and a Pint in association with the Traverse Theatre
  • Shona Reppe - Atlantis Banal: Beneath the Surface, Shona Reppe, created with Vélo Théâtre, France, produced by Catherine Wheels
  • Mara Menzies - Blood and Gold, Independent Arts Projects
  • Zinnie Harris after John Webster - The Duchess (of Malfi), Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Citizens Theatre

Best Production

  • The Signalman, Peter Arnott, A Play, a Pie and a Pint in association with the Traverse Theatre
  • Faith Healer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre
  • The Metamorphosis, Vanishing Point, Tron Theatre and Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
  • Solaris, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Malthouse Theatre and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre
  • Thank You Very Much, Manchester International Festival and National Theatre of Scotland