News Published 2 November 2011

Southwark Playhouse Wins Empty Space Award

Theatre praised for its “enormous energy.”

Natasha Tripney

Southwark Playhouse has won the 2011 Empty Space Peter Brook Award. The venue, housed in arches underneath London Bridge Station, for a while looked to be at risk of losing its home due to the redevelopment of the station. But following a campaign (detailed here) Network Rail has recently said that it is prepared to offer the theatre a place within the new station complex. The theatre, and artistic director, Chris Smyrnios, were praised for “the enormous energy that vibrates” through both the main house and The Vault, for creating “miracles” in terms of expansion and transformation of the space, and for staging an “eclectic selection of plays that has been fabulously received.”

Southwark Playhouse’s current production is John Patrick Shanley’s 1980’s two-hander,  Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, directed by Ché Walker. He described the challenges and pleasures of staging work in The Vault in a recent interview with Exeunt. A production of The Changeling, directed by Michael Oakley, opens in the main house next week.

Other recipients included the National Theatre Wales which won the Dan Crawford Innovation Award and Exeter’s Bike Shed Theatre, which won the Mark Marvin Rent Subsidy Award. The Peter Brook/Equity Ensemble Award went to the Faction theatre company.

The Peter Brook/Mobius Special Achievement Award went to Nicholas Kent, the outgoing artistic director of the Tricycle Theatre. Kent has been at the north London theatre since 1984 and is due to leave at the end of March 2012. His work at the Tricycle has included a number of politically engaged production including the Great Game season and the Tricycle’s renowned Tribunal plays, alongside journalist Richard Norton-Taylor. He is currently working on a production concerning this year’s riots along with the novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo.

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Natasha Tripney

Natasha co-founded Exeunt in 2011 and was editor until 2016. She's now lead critic and reviews editor for The Stage, and has written about theatre and the arts for the Guardian, Time Out, the Independent, Lonely Planet and Tortoise.

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