Misty, The Rink and Leave Taking win big at the Off West End Theatre Awards 2019
Now in their ninth year, the Off West End Theatre Awards (Offies) celebrated the best in independent, fringe and alternative theatre at the Battersea Arts Centre last night in alternative, glamorous style.
As well as holding a “People’s Vote”, the event recognised a host of work created Off West End with over 400 shows across 80 venues being judged throughout by a volunteering panel of Assessors and Super Assessors.
The ceremony itself, hosted by director Geoffrey Brown, featured a diverse array of guest speakers from critic Lyn Gardner to artistic director of Graeae and co-director of the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony Jenny Sealey MBE. A broad spectrum of categories were on offer and in certain cases, such as Misty by Arinzé Kene and the Southwark Playhouse revival of The Rink, productions were nominated for several awards.
Kene received the relatively new award for Performance Piece to rapturous applause, while it was the Bush Theatre’s production of Leave Taking – Winsome Pinnock’s late-80s drama focused on the gap between first and second generation black British immigrants – which won Male Performance in a Supporting Role and Female Performance in a Play for Wil Johnson and Sarah Niles respectively.
Fittingly, Madani Younis was given the special award for Best Artistic Director in recognition of his seven years of service to the much-transformed Bush Theatre.
Within the musical category, however, it was Southwark Playhouse’s “emotionally intelligent” (Evening Standard) reimagining of the Broadway musical The Rink which swept up a host of categories including two awards for Female Performance in a Play – given to Caroline O’Connor and Gemma Sutton – as well as the awards for Musical Director (Joe Bunker), Choreography (Fabian Aloise) and Musical Production.
Further award categories included Best Production, awarded to Print Room’s staging of The Outsider; Best New Play, won by Tearrence Arvelle Chisholm for Br’er Cotton – a play tackling the issue of black deaths at the hands of the US police force; Most Promising Playwright, which went to Joe White for Mayfly; and the Best New Musical award, bestowed upon Grindr: The Opera which played at Above the Stage.
Photo: Leave Taking, Helen Murray
The Off West End Theatre Awards took place at Battersea Arts Centre on 3rd February 2019. For further information visit their website here.