Oliver Ford Davies takes home Theatre Book Prize

Published: 26 June 2023
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

President of the STR Timothy West awards Oliver Ford Davies the Theatre Book Prize Credit: Society for Theatre Research

An Actor’s Life in 12 Productions, the memoire of Oliver Ford Davies, has won the 25th Society for Theatre Research Book Prize, in the Society’s 75th year.

As well as being an Olivier Award-winning stage actor, Ford Davies, who has enjoyed roles with the RSC and the National Theatre, has film credits that include three Star Wars films and on television he has been a regular in Kavanagh QC and Game of Thrones. He has also been a university lecturer and a regional drama critic for The Guardian.

An Actor's Life not only covers his stage career but also provides a fascinating look at British theatre across six decades.

BTG’s own Howard Loxton chaired the judging panel of theatre critic Cindy Marcolina, historian Jennifer Thorp and performer William Purefoy. The latter said of the book:

“I loved this book from the very beginning largely because of its engaging, almost conversational style but also because of its honesty and humility.

"I found it extremely saddening to read in such illuminating and erudite terms of the almost entire extinction of the world of regional repertory theatre, a loss which seems simultaneously irretrievable and tragic. The way Oliver describes his early career, and the development of his craft speaks of opportunities never likely to be available again, but luckily he goes on to fill one with hope for the future, the feeling that Theatreland is still thriving...

"There are also lovely insights into how productions work, how actors develop roles, how plays are living entities which organically change in rehearsal and so much more.”

The Prize shortlist also included:

  • But Will It Get a Laugh? The Life of Doris Hare in Three Acts by Kate Crehan (STR)
  • The Club on the Edge of Town: A Pandemic Memoir by Allan Lane (Salamander Street)
  • Inside the Rehearsal Room: Process, Collaboration and Decision-Making by Robert Marsden (Methuen Drama)
  • Pinter and Stoppard: A Director’s View by Carey Perloff (Methuen Drama)
  • The Playwright’s Manifesto: How You Can be the Future of Playwriting by Paul Sirett (Methuen Drama)

Established in 1998, to celebrate the Society’s Golden Jubilee, the STR Theatre Book Prize celebrates the writing and publication of books on British-related theatre history and practice.

An Actor’s Life in 12 Productions is published by the Book Guild.

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