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YOUR NEWS – Theatre Book Prize 2021 Winner Announced

YOUR NEWS – Theatre Book Prize 2021 Winner Announced

Study of Black British women’s theatre wins the Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize

By Harriet Reed

The Society for Theatre Research (STR) has awarded Black British Women’s Theatre: Intersectionality, Archives, Aesthetics by Nicola Abram (Palgrave Macmillan) the Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize for 2021.
The book is the first critical study of black British women’s theatre to centre on unpublished playscripts and other archival materials, many of which have not previously been studied in print. Focusing on theatrical form, it traces how selected companies, practitioners and playwrights have creatively responded to racism and sexism, heralding a timely shift towards examining and enjoying the depths of this rich field.
Judge Cleo Sylvestre said: “Black British Women’s Theatre by Nicola Abram was to me, a female black actor, a total revelation. This is an extremely comprehensive study documenting productions previously unpublished and undocumented material from five different companies, drawing on archives and personal collections. Themes of identity, class and inequality and alienation are explored by the companies heralding a new dawn of female representation on the British stage… It is a fine example of the early days of Black women’s theatre that certainly should not be forgotten.”
Winner Nicola Abram said: “Thank you to the judges for your generous and thoughtful comments, and ultimately for choosing to recognise my work in this way. Receiving this year’s Book Prize I think confirms the vital role of archives of every kind, as well as making the vibrant history of Black British women’s theatre all the more visible.”
The prize was judged by journalist Lucy Popescu, actress Cleo Sylvestre and Professor Steve Nicholson on a panel chaired by STR Committee Member Howard Loxton.
The winner was selected from the following shortlist:

Nicola Abram
Black British Women’s Theatre: Intersectionality, Archives, Aesthetics
(Palgrave Macmillan)




Michael Coveney
Questors, Jesters and Renegades: The Story of Britain’s Amateur Theatre
(Methuen Drama)




Matthew Frank
Subscription Theater: Democracy and Drama in Britain and Ireland, 1880-1939
(University of Pennsylvania Press)




Nadine Holdsworth
English Theatre and Social Abjection A Divided Nation
(Palgrave Macmillan)




Rohan McWilliam
London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914
(Oxford University Press)




Janice Norwood
Victorian Touring Actresses
(Manchester University Press)




2021 marks the 23rd STR Theatre Book Prize, which was established in 1998 to celebrate the Society’s Golden Jubilee. The aim of the Book Prize is to encourage the writing and publication of books on British-related theatre history and practice.
Recent winners include Year of the Mad King: The King Lear Diaries by Antony Sher; Different Drummer: The Life of Kenneth Macmillan by Jann Parry; Margot Fonteyn by Meredith Daneman; and Balancing Acts by Nick Hytner.
Previous members of the judging panel include actors Penelope Keith and Corin Redgrave, producer Thelma Holt, actress-director Yvonne Brewster and critics Michael Billington and Daisy Bowie-Sell.
The full winner’s presentation is available to watch on YouTube here…

To be eligible, titles must be about British or British-related theatre, be in English, first publications and carry the copyright date 2020.
They may be on any form of theatrical performance and any aspect of production, history, architecture or management, whether presenting theatre of the past, recording contemporary theatre or looking forward to the future. Play texts and studies of drama as literature are excluded.
The Society for Theatre Research was founded in 1948 to serve all those interested in the history and technique of British and British-related theatre: academic and independent scholars, researchers, performers and other theatre workers – and of course theatregoers.
The STR is the oldest society of its type in the English-speaking world, with a membership that is international.

More details of activities promoted by the Society are available on our website at:


YOUR NEWS – Huge Support Across the Board In Memory of Roy Hudd

YOUR NEWS – Huge Support Across the Board In Memory of Roy Hudd

By Alison Young. Secretary, British Music Hall Society

The British Music Hall Society hosted its #MusicHallVarietyDay on Sunday, 16 May.
It was only the second time the BMHS had hosted such a day and the society called on the world of theatre, Music Hall and Variety fans to join in by posting stories, images, memories and film clips on social media.

An extraordinarily diverse range of people and organisations turned out to support the day; it was like the waiting room at Crewe station in 1905.

Contributions were made on Twitter and Facebook by theatrical archives, theatres, performers, enthusiasts, academics, collectors of ephemera and amateur theatre groups. Rainham Theatre Society posted a series of film clips throughout the day with a Music Hall flavour – monologues and songs.

Tommy Steele even put in an appearance, banging his chairman’s gavel in a short film clip to welcome everyone. Sing-a-long king, Tom Carradine (of Carradine’s Cockney Sing-a-long, see below) got the day off to a rousing start with a medley of Music Hall favourites, beginning with, most appropriately, Let’s All Go to the Music Hall. The clip is now available to watch on the BMHS’s YouTube channel.

Some of the items revealed during the course of the day included beautiful posters from the Argyle Theatre, Birkenhead; flyers created to promote Dan Leno; a host of illustrated song sheet covers; photographs of great great aunts, uncles and grandparents in double acts and gymnastic troupes; a game of Snap! featuring Music Hall celebrities. There were also blogs and podcasts to mark the occasion.

Paul O’Grady, BMHS’s new President

The day marks the birthday of Roy Hudd who died last year. As former President of the British Music Hall Society, he was a great champion of the history and performance of the genre.

Unfortunately, this year’s date fell just before that on which theatres were able to re-open and our new President, Paul O’Grady, said; “On the day before many theatres reopen, it seems appropriate to remember an aspect of our glorious performing history and tradition which has influenced so much entertainment today.”
In addition to the social media activity, the British Music Hall Society also offered two talks via Zoom, taking in ‘Music Hall Brixton’ and a behind the scenes look at the London Palladium.

Singer-songwriter, Kate Garner, daughter of Chas Hodges (Chas & Dave) rounded off the day with an evening of music and memories around the piano.
Earlier, in the run up to the day, a number of radio interviews were recorded with Paul O’Grady, Debbie Hudd (Roy’s widow and BMHS’s Vice President, pictured below), Ken Dodd’s widow, Lady ‘Anne’ Dodd and Kate Garner, to promote and mark the day.

For everybody else, it’s still not too late to enjoy all that went on; check the BMHS’s Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube channel or website to catch up.
In the meantime, see you all same time, next year!

The British Music Hall Society can be found at:

F: Search ‘British Music Hall Society’
T: @musichallsoc
Y: YouTube Channel