Dramaturgs' Network presented the Kenneth Tynan Award 2021 livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 20 November 2021 at 11:30 a.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 2:30 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5) / 19:30 GMT (London, UTC +0).
In honor of Kenneth Tynan, the United Kingdom’s first serving dramaturg, working at the National Theatre, to recognize excellence in the field of dramaturgy, the Dramaturgs’ Network presents the Kenneth Tynan Award (KTA) 2021. Established in 2011, this biennial award honors theatre professionals, who have made an outstanding contribution to dramaturgy in the United Kingdom in the past two years, regardless of their job title.
In a ceremony celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Dramaturgs’ Network and the work of all the shortlisted nominees, the session will feature a conversation on dramaturgy with the shortlisted dramaturgs—and, following the announcement, the winner of the Kenneth Tynan Award 2021 will deliver their dramaturgy paper, an inspirational speech on dramaturgy.
The SHORTLISTED DRAMATURGS are:
Gail Babb is a theatre maker who specialises in creating new work and supporting emerging artists. As a dramaturg and director, she has created shows for theatres, found sites (including museums and a derelict school), as well as national and international touring. Gail has been nominated for her work of excellence as a dramaturg, theatre maker and collaborator, most recently in Run it back, with Talawa Theatre, directed by Coral Messam and co created with the group, and The Body Remembers, made with multi disciplinary artist Heather Agyepong (BAC and other venues). The reason for shortlisting Gail is because she nourishes, supports and challenges artists and emerging practitioners, and is thorough, detailed and passionate. She champions the work of black writers and makers, and their stories, working tirelessly to ensure rigour and quality, while demonstrating an incisive awareness of context. She has a strong track record in participatory theatre practice both through her work at Talawa and as an academic. Quoting from one of the several nominations: “I would love to see Gail celebrated for the sheer artistry, knowledge of structure and ability to work outside accepted structures.”
Lou Cope is a Brighton-based dramaturg who has worked across the UK, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. She works across ballet, contemporary, South Asian, participatory and inclusive dance and theatre, and specialises in Production, Practice and Organisational Dramaturgy. Lou has been nominated for promoting and strengthening the field of dance dramaturgy, and for her outstanding work on productions with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Lewis Major on (S)words, Aakash Odedra on Samsara and the Amnesty International Freedom of Speech & ACTA Award-winning #JeSuis, and many more. Lou was also nominated for her initiative creating bursaries for people to work with a dramaturg for the first time and her offerings of professional development for choreographers and dramaturgs through courses, podcasts and workshops. She is put forward by a colleague for “her commitment, wisdom, care and approach which have been valued by people right across the sector.”
Neil Grutchfield is a freelance dramaturg and script reader with 20 years’ experience. He also works as New Writing Manager for Synergy Theatre Project and reads for the Theatre503 Playwriting Award and Koestler Arts Awards. Neil has been nominated for his tireless work at Synergy nurturing writers and new plays to put unheard stories about the criminal justice system on theatre main stages. Neil's recent work with commissioned playwrights include Hassan Abdulrazzak, Natalie Mitchell and Ambreen Razia. He has provided dramaturgical support to approximately 30 prisoner and ex-prisoner writers at all stages of development, steering them towards opportunities with Synergy and mainstream theatres. During the pandemic he delivered correspondence courses for prisons and online courses for ex-prisoners. He treats all writers, regardless of background, with the same respect and commitment, offering incisive rigorous feedback and tenaciously championing those he believes have great potential. To quote one writer who has benefited from his support: "Neil has an intoxicating knowledge of theatre. He's thoughtful, considerate, potently perceptive and alarmingly generous with his time and effort."
(Photo credits: Gail Babb - photography by Myah Jeffers, Lou Cope - photography by Lou Cope, Neil Grutchfield - courtesy of Neil Grutchfield.)
This year's KTA judging panel members are Oladipo Agboluaje, Hannah Khalil, Stewart Pringle, Sarah Sigal, Hanna Slättne, and Katalin Trencsényi.
This is a free event (suggested voluntary donation: £4). Donate here.
The Kenneth Tynan Award is generously supported by the National Theatre, Nick Hern Books and Tom Stoppard.
The KTA ceremony forms the culmination of a day-long event celebrating the Dramaturgs’ Network’s twentieth anniversary, and will be preceded by a panel discussion on anti-racist strategies in dramaturgy.