Actor and playwright, Rory Kinnear (National Theatre, RSC, James Bond franchise) presented Sir Nicholas Hytner with the award. Speaking at the ceremony, Sir Nicholas Hytner said “As well as an opportunity to get off my chest and on to paper all of the stories that I have built up over the years, writing this book has also been a learning experience that has enabled me to think about exactly what I have learnt and who I have learnt it from…thank you so much for reading the book and thank you for this incredibly flattering prize.”
Winners of the award are presented with a cheque from the Society for Theatre research for a total of £1000.
This year’s judges were Paul Miller, Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, Sam Marlowe, highly regarded theatre critic, and Professor Jeffery Richards chaired by Howard Loxton representing the Society for Theatre Research.
Paul Miller said of the award-winning entry, “This is a notably candid book from such a famously private person. It opens with a bravura account, flirting with gossip but keeping this side of naming names, of one typical day in the life of the Director of the National Theatre.
“His book makes a fantastic case, at once sophisticated and robust, for a theatre with a generous popular gesture at its heart: a gloriously fitting coda to 12 years the National Theatre where he showed us how that’s done.”
Chosen from an entry of 60 titles submitted by publishers, the 2018 shortlist also featured Black British Drama – A Transnational Story by Michael Pearce (Routledge), Child Actors on the London Stage, c 1600 by Julie Ackroyd(Sussex Academic Press), Costume in Performance by Donatella Barbieri (Bloomsbury) London Theatres by Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley (Frances Lincoln), and Shakespeare on Stage: Vol 2 – Twelve Leading Actors on Twelve Key Roles by Julian Curry (Nick Hern Books).
The Theatre Book Prize was established to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Society for Theatre Research (which was founded in 1948) and to encourage the writing and publication of books on all aspects of theatre history and practice, both those that present the theatre of the past and those that record contemporary theatre for the future. First awarded for books published in 1997, it is presented annually for a new book on British or British related theatre which an independent panel of judges considers to be the best published during the year. Play texts and studies of drama as literature are not eligible. The judges are drawn from theatre professionals, theatre critics, theatre academics and archivists, with a chairperson from the committee of the Society for Theatre Research.
Now celebrating its 70th year the Society for Theatre Research was formed at a public meeting in the bomb-damaged Old Vic on 15 June 1948 to advance research into British-related theatre. It runs lectures and conferences, publishes books and a journal, offers funding and prizes, promotes excellent scholarship and supports the continuing development of practice. It has been involved in successful campaigning across the theatrical spectrum from the establishment of the Theatre Museum to the abolition of stage censorship and the creation of the Theatres Trust.