Sir Peter Hall and Sir Michael Gambon were two of the many luminaries honoured for their contribution to theatre at last night's Evening Standard Awards at the Savoy Hotel in London .
Hall was presented with a Golden Seagull award on behalf of the Moscow Art Theatre for his many achievements in theatre, including his founding of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959. Gambon was presented with the Lebedev Special Award for his similarly stellar parts, most recently as Krapp in the Gate then Duchess theatre's productions of Krapp's Last Tape earlier this year.
"This year, acts both new and old have again combined to reinforce London's status as the true home of global theatre," said the awards' chairman Evgeny Lebedev, who is also chairman of Independent Print Ltd, owner of The Independent. "Londoners should feel justly proud to have such fantastic theatre."
The award for most promising playwright was given to 17-year-old Anya Reiss, whose became the youngest person to write a play performed at London's Royal Court. Her production, Spur of the Moment, premiered in July.
US dramatist Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park, which addresses race and housing issues in the Chicago neighbourhood of the play's title, was named best play. "In his outrageously funny and squirm-inducing new play, [Norris] trains his satirical sights on the explosive subject of race and the taboos controlling how we talk about it," writes The Independent theatre critic Paul Taylor in his September review of the production, that transfers to London's Wyndham theatre next year.
The Natasha Richardson Award for best actress, named after the late star, was presented by Richardson's husband Liam Neeson. The winner was Nancy Carroll, honoured for her portrayal of Joan in Terence Rattigan's After the Dance at the National Theatre in June. The production, directed by Thea Sharrock, was lauded by critics for its overshadowing of previous attempts to revive Rattigan's "lost" play, which premiered in 1939, but remained largely forgotten until a BBC television production in 1992. Rory Kinnear was recognised as best actor for a pair of roles, both Shakespearean: the lead role in Hamlet, also at the National, and Angelo in Measure for Measure at the Almeida. "Kinnear shows a Hamlet whose depression can be seen in fits of unwarranted aggression, withdrawal, manic high-pitched laughter, intense unhappiness or simply desperate attempts to make sense of anything," wrote The Independent arts editor David Lister of Kinnear's Hamlet last month.
Other productions to be honoured include Stephen Sondheim's Passion, currently running at London's Donmar. The best director award went to Howard Davies for his production of Mikhail Bulgakov's White Guard at the National, and All My Sons by Arthur Miller at the Apollo. The best newcomer prize was given to the team behind the Barbican's You Me Bum Bum Train, a piece of immersive theatre with a huge cast that was the fastest-selling production in the Barbican's history. In addition, newcomer Daniel Kaluuya was recognised for his performance in the Royal Court's Sucker Punch, the story of two boxers sparring in south London in the 1980s.
The theatre awards have been presented annually since 1955. Past winners include Sir Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Dame Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave and Sir Patrick Stewart. The ceremony was hosted by Stephen Fry, with guests including Michael Grandage, Roger Allam, Tom Hollander, Rebecca Hall, Damian Lewis and Sir Ian McKellen.
"This year's winners illustrate the astonishing range of talent drawn to the stage," said Evening Standard deputy editor Sarah Sands. "London theatre is, by far, the best in the world, and the Evening Standard is proud of its deep associations with it."
Evening Standard theatre awards winners
Rory Kinnear - Measure for Measure (Almeida)/ Hamlet (National's Olivier)
THE NATASHA RICHARDSON AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS
Nancy Carroll - After the Dance (National's Lyttelton)
Bruce Norris - Clybourne Park (Royal Court)
THE NED SHERRIN AWARD FOR BEST MUSICAL
Passion - Donmar Warehouse
Howard Davies - The White Guard (National's Lyttelton) /All My Sons (Apollo)
Miriam Buether - Sucker Punch (Royal Court)/ Earthquakes in London (National's Cottesloe)
THE CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT
Anya Reiss - Spur of the Moment (Royal Court)
THE MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER
You Me Bum Bum Train created by Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd (Barbican)
EDITOR'S AWARD FOR A SHOOTING STAR
Daniel Kaluuya for his performance in Sucker Punch (Royal Court)
THE LEBEDEV SPECIAL AWARD
Sir Michael Gambon for his contribution to British theatre
THE MOSCOW ART THEATRE'S GOLDEN SEAGULL
Sir Peter Hall for his contribution to world theatre