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The Critics' Circle Theatre Awards honour Michael Billington

Michael Billington. Photo by Anthony Kelly.

Theatre news

THE Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2019 will take place at 1pm on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End, hosted by Critics’ Circle Drama Section Chairman, Henry Hitchings.

The ceremony is one of the best loved in the theatre awards calendar with its informal gathering of award recipients, drama critics, theatre practitioners and the media, convivially coming together to celebrate the critics’ personal choice of the best theatre, from throughout the UK, during the last calendar year.

Each member of the Drama Section independently casts their vote based on personal choice, free of any discussion or industry influence, ensuring a highly democratic voting process.

Honouring his record-breaking career as the Guardian’s chief theatre critic since 1971, The Best Play Award will now bear Michael Billington’s name. He said: “I am unbelievably chuffed, and deeply flattered, to have a Critics’ Circle Award named after me. I’m also thrilled that it is for Best Play since I’ve always passionately believed that new writing is the beating heart of theatre.”

The section’s Theatre Awards were set up in 1989, after much debate about whether critics should make awards.

Since 1996, the Theatre Awards have included the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Tinker was a much-loved critic for the Daily Mail.

In 2001, a new award was instituted in memory of the husband and wife critical partnership of John and Wendy Trewin. This took the form of a medal for the Best Shakespearean Performance of the year. In 2016, after the death of their son Ion Trewin, it was renamed the Trewin Medal.

In 2016, the award for best new or revived musical was renamed the Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical, in honour of the late Peter Hepple’s outstanding contribution to the Critics’ Circle, of which he was Hon. Gen. Secretary for many years.

In 2017, a new Special Award was added honouring an individual for their services to theatre.

The Awards are once again presented in association with long-time headline sponsor Nyman Libson Paul Chartered Accountants, leading entertainment industry specialists. They are also generously supported by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres (now involved for a 15th year).

The Awards are produced by leading industry figure Terri Paddock.

Acceptance speeches will once more be broadcast, streamed via Facebook Live on the day.

Image: Michael Billington. Photo by Anthony Kelly.