Thoughts on the 2019 Olivier Awards

I usually miss the boat Β when it comes to hot theatre topics. It’s probably for the best as I worry I’ll say something in slightly the wrong way or not with the majority consensus. But anyway, I have a few things to say about the 2019 Olivier Awards so now’s a better time than any!

In summary; the awards need a bit of a shake up. From categories to publicity, there are just some things that don’t quite work, and changes would hopefully allow more creative roles to be recognised as well as more of the public to be enthused by the awards. At the very least it might sell some more tickets.

New category: Best Ensemble

In 2009 only, there was an award for ‘Best Company Performance’, and I think this award should be brought back. In recent years there’s been a rise of group nominations for Best actor/actress. This year, the cast of Six were jointly nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical whilst the Lehman Brothers were up for Best Actor. Having a joint nomination makes sense in the case of children performers sharing a role, but nominating six individual women to share an award feels somewhat lazy and disingenuous. The Best Company award would have allowed shows such as Six, Come From Away, and Heathers to thrive, in my opinion, and allowed a spotlight on ensemble as well as leading roles.

StrangeΒ Categories

Two categories continue to baffle me: Best New Comedy and Best Family & Entertainment. The first has been written about already so in short it just doesn’t serve a purpose. British theatre currently does not produce enough straight comedies in order to warrant a nomination list. The three plays (Home, I’m Darling, Quiz, and Nine Night) I wouldn’t even consider comedies, but I guess it means there’s more chance of winning when there’s an unstoppable force such as The Inheritance up for Best Play.
The latter category is just odd. The four nominees are a mash-up of different genres: a play, a musical revue, a panto, and a piece at the Natural History Museum. It’s a category filled with shows which don’t fit elsewhere. I believe that SOLT are changing things up next year and adding a more distinct family category, though?

Affiliate Theatre

There’s a ridiculous number of possible nominees for this category, spanning across theatres such as Soho or Bush as well as the smaller studios of the Royal Court and Hampstead. It just feels like such a trivial category, and just doesn’t do those theatres justice. A shame as there’s consistently good, groundbreaking work being made in this venues.

Left Out Job Titles

Much like the WhatsOnStage Awards, there’s discussion over creative roles which aren’t recognised in the ceremony, with the main one being Casting Directors. The people who get the stars or the new graduates into shows to entertain you. The ones who cast Rosalie Craig or Adrienne Warren. More recognition for the lesser known creative roles pls

Broadcasting

It’s said every year, but it’s a shame that the Oliviers aren’t broadcast live like the Tony’s. It’s not like the UK doesn’t broadcast award ceremonies – they have huge coverage of the BRITs. The Oliviers instead have a delayed, highlights broadcast on ITV, which seems to not show certain awards and doesn’t screen the names during the ‘In Memoriam’ section. It’s a real shame. If there was more care and coverage of the awards then I really think the show would generate more public interest. Imagine if Lorraine (who is an actress herself apparently?) chatted about the Oliviers like she did the soap awards!!!

Pinter at the Pinter

The reason why none of Jamie Lloyd’s Pinter Season wasn’t nominated is simply because the runs were too short. CouldΒ Betrayal be nominated next year? Will have to check.
I’m surprised Lloyd din’t pick up a speical award of some sort for the season, as it was quite a feat and incredibly successful.

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Regardless, I know that I’m just one little voice screaming into the void. I’d love to know your thoughts on the awards; what do you think should change about the ceremony, if anything?

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