Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020

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Celebrating its 10th anniversary with a ceremony held in the iconic Grand Hall of Battersea Arts Centre on Sunday 8 March 2020, the Off West End Awards once again celebrated the best of independent, fringe and alternative theatres across London.

With winners including choreographer Oti Mabuse, from Strictly Come Dancing and Greatest Dancer winner; actor Marina Bye for her performance in The Lady from the Sea at the Coronet Theatre, most promising playwright Dylan Coburn Gray for CitySong at Soho Theatre; and Ross Willis best new play for Wolfie at Theatre503; the evening also celebrated the multi award-winning producer and founder of the initiative Black Ticket Project, Tobi Kyeremateng, who was presented with this year's Producer Special Award; Bunker Theatre's Artistic Director Chris Sonnex, who received the Artistic Director Special Award; and Artistic Manager Mehmet Ergen and Deputy Artistic Director & Executive Producer Leyla Nazli, who received the Special Achievement Award for their work in establishing the Arcola Theatre.

In 2019, Offies assessors saw around 400 shows across Greater London and made over 400 nominations covering 189 shows at 58 venues. The 89 finalists have been selected across 28 categories, covering performances in plays and musicals, as well as design, choreography, direction, production, as well as some special awards such as IDEA, for shows that are innovative / devised / experiential / atypical. The 89 finalists represent 59 shows at 34 venues. The finalists included some well-known names, with shows ranging from spectacular musicals to drama focusing on challenging social issues, and some more unusual shows in venues under railway arches and above pubs.

The Offies recognise and celebrate the excellence, innovation and ingenuity of independent, fringe and alternative theatres across London, helping to raise their profiles and rewarding the new talent that they nurture, which is essential for the future of the theatre industry. The public also had the opportunity to participate in the Offies People's Vote where they voted for their favourite venue in one or more of the 9 available categories.

Geoffrey Brown, OffWestEnd Director, said: "There is so much creative talent in the theatre sector in London, and we are delighted that OffWestEnd plays a key role in celebrating and promoting this work. We now have a new www.offies.london website showcasing Offies nominees, finalists and winners and we are delighted that next year's awards ceremony will once again be in the beautifully refurbished Grand Hall at Battersea Arts Centre, one of London's most exciting and dynamic venues."

SPECIAL AWARDS 2020

TOBI KYEREMATENG, PRODUCER

Tobi Kyeremateng is a multi award-winning Cultural Producer with 9 years' experience in performance, festivals and film. Recent credits include: The Future Is Near (Tate Modern), J'Ouvert (Theatre503), BABYLON Festival (Bush Theatre), AFRO-CITY Festival (Roundhouse), Pagans (Old Vic Theatre). Film credits include: 'Wishbone' (NOWNESS) and 'Secret Life of Gs' by Caleb Femi, and 'Roots For A Crown' (NOWNESS, 180 The Strand: Prada Mode) by Julianknxx.

Tobi has worked with organisations such as: AFROPUNK, Apples and Snakes, Battersea Arts Centre, gal-dem, Nike and Samsung, and has won awards including: 'Inspiration of the Year' Award (Stylist Magazine's inaugural Remarkable Women Awards 2019), 'Best Producer' (inaugural Black British Theatre Awards 2019) and the 'Arts & Culture' Award (Women Of The Future Awards 2019).

She has received recognition from The Mayor of London as part of the Hidden Credits campaign and is one of 25 civic leaders selected as part of the first Civic Futures Initiative by Koreo, Dark Matter Labs and The Young Foundation, in partnership with the Greater London Authority. Tobi is the founder of the award-winning initiative Black Ticket Project, and is currently writing her debut non-fiction book, 'THEATRE SH*T', to be published by Jacaranda Books in 2021.

CHRIS SONNEX, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

In September 2018, Chris Sonnex was appointed Artistic Director of The Bunker Theatre. His three seasons of work have included his production of We Anchor In Hope by Anna Jordan, as well as two sold out editions of the My White Best Friend (and other letters left unsaid) festival, the sold-out This Is Black festival, Emma Dennis-Edwards' Funeral Flowers, Matilda Ibini's Little Miss Burden and the current artist-led eight-week Takeover Season.

He instituted The Bunker's Writers' Snug as well as its long-term partnership with Tobi Kyeremateng's Black Ticket Project. Previously Chris was Artistic Associate for The Royal Court, for whom he produced Boys Project, Beyond The Court Pimlico and directed Katzenmusik. He has also worked with the National Theatre Studio, Donmar Warehouse Discover, Almeida Participation and Synergy Theatre Project. The Bunker was recently awarded Fringe Theatre of the Year at The Stage Awards 2020, and Chris was listed as the 97th most influential person in the UK theatre industry in the Stage 100.

MEHMET ERGEN & LEYLA NAZLI, SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT

Mehmet Ergen arrived in London in 1987, aged 22, with dreams of becoming a theatre director. He spoke little English, but expanded his vocabulary by listening to Shakespeare audiobooks. He placed an advert in The Stage, inviting people to join a new theatre company, and started putting on plays in pub theatres. In 1993 he co-founded the Southwark Playhouse, serving as its first Artistic Director for six years. Then he joined Battersea Arts Centre as Associate Producer.

In 2000, he and Leyla Nazli acquired £5000 to establish a new theatre in a clothes factory on Arcola Street in Dalston. Enlisting all the artists they knew, Mehmet and Leyla repurposed the space - painting and decorating, clearing thousands of coat hangers, transforming cutting tables into benches for the audience. The Arcola opened on a shoestring, and occasionally stayed open on a credit card. But it quickly won the hearts of the local and theatrical community.

Over the last 20 years, it has had a major impact. You only have to look at the names of people who worked at the Arcola in the early part of their careers - Aml Ameen, Zawe Ashton, Mike Bartlett, Polly Findlay, Lucy Kirkwood, Lynette Linton, Michael Longhurst, Wunmi Mosaku, Lyndsey Turner... the list goes on. Arinzé Kene started acting in the Arcola youth theatre. Alecky Blythe, Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Barney Norris' first plays were produced there.

Now a fully producing theatre on Ashwin Street, the Arcola attracts over 65,000 people a year, commissioning new plays and touring shows nationally and internationally. Its annual Grimeborn festival makes opera accessible to all. Ticket prices remain some of the most affordable in London, with Pay What You Can tickets every Tuesday.

With their socially and politically-engaged programme over two decades, Mehmet Ergen and Leyla Nazli have shown that thrilling theatre can live at the grassroots, and for everyone. They have built a powerhouse from nothing.

FINALISTS & WINNERS

PLAYS

MOST PROMISING NEW PLAYWRIGHT

Dylan Coburn Gray, CitySong, Soho Theatre

Samuel Bailey, Shook, Southwark Playhouse

Zia Ahmed, I Wanna Be Yours, Bush Theatre

NEW PLAY

Ross Willis, Wolfie, Theatre503

Matilda Ibini, Little Miss Burden, Bunker

Rose Lewenstein, Cougar, Orange Tree Theatre

FEMALE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Marina Bye, The Lady from the Sea, Coronet Theatre (formerly Print Room)

Patience Tomlinson, Go Bang Your Tambourine, Finborough

Sheila Atim, Time Is Love, Finborough

MALE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

John Sackville, Go Bang Your Tambourine, Finborough

Bart Lambert, The House of Yes, The Hope Theatre

Ben Woods, A Christmas Carol, Bridge House Theatre

FEMALE PERFORMANCE

Gemma Barnett, A Hundred Words for Snow, Trafalgar Studios 2

Lucy Briggs-Owen, Out of Water, Orange Tree

Pia Tjelta, The Lady from the Sea, Coronet Theatre / Print Room

Redd Lily Roche, Box Clever, Bunker

MALE PERFORMANCE

Cary Crankson, Country Music, Omnibus

Danny Kirrane, We're Staying Right Here, Park Theatre

Irfan Shamji , The Arrival, Bush Theatre

Kalungi Ssebandeke, Blood Knot, Orange Tree Theatre

DIRECTOR

Ned Bennett, Equus, English Touring Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Debbie Hannan, Little Miss Burden, Bunker

Tom Littler, All's Well That Ends Well, Jermyn Street Theatre

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, Little Baby Jesus, Orange Tree Theatre

PRODUCTION

Equus, English Touring Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Shook, Southwark Playhouse

Wolfie, Theatre503

MUSICALS & OPERA

NEW MUSICAL

Amour, Charing Cross Theatre

Shida, Vaults

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Southwark Playhouse

FEMALE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Ashlee Young, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Union Theatre

Claire Machin, Amour, Charing Cross Theatre

Georgie Lovatt, Bare A Pop Opera, The Vaults

MALE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jerome Pradon, Aspects of Love, Southwark Playhouse

Cedric Neal, The View Upstairs, Soho Theatre

Oliver Savile, Falsettos, The Other Palace

FEMALE PERFORMANCE

Jeannette Bayardelle, Shida, The Vaults

Abigayle Honeywill, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Union Theatre

Lauryn Redding, The Hired Man, Queens Theatre Hornchurch

MALE PERFORMANCE

Bart Lambert, Thrill Me, The Hope Theatre (joint winner)

Jack Reitman, Thrill Me, The Hope Theatre (joint winner)

Keith Ramsay, Preludes, Southwark Playhouse

MUSICAL DIRECTOR

Jordan Li-Smith, Queen of the Mist, Jack Studio Theatre / Charing Cross Theatre

Benjamin Cox, Ghost Quartet, Boulevard Theatre

Darren Clarke, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Southwark Playhouse

DIRECTOR

Bill Buckhurst, Ghost Quartet, Boulevard Theatre

Hannah Chissick, Amour, Charing Cross Theatre

Jethro Compton, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Southwark Playhouse

MUSICALS PRODUCTION

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Union Theatre

Ghost Quartet, Boulevard Theatre

High Fidelity, Turbine Theatre

OPERA PRODUCTION

HMS Pinafore, Charles Court Opera, King's Head

Partenope, Hampstead Garden Opera, Jacksons Lane

The Elixir of Love, King's Head

DESIGN

COSTUME

Adrian Gee, Amour, Charing Cross Theatre

Emily Bestow, 42nd Street, Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Hannah Wolfe , Great Expectations, National Youth Theatre, Southwark Playhouse

SET

Diego Pitarch, Night of the Living Dead - Live!, Pleasance

Justin Williams, Whistle Down the Wind, Union Theatre

Lee Newby, The View Upstairs, Soho Theatre

Rachael Ryan, Thrill Me, The Hope Theatre

SOUND

Matt Eaton, All's Well That Ends Well, Guildford Bard, Jermyn Street Theatre

Benjamin Grant, The War of the Worlds, New Diorama

Lex Kosanke, Hunger, Arcola Theatre

Xana, Blood Knot, Orange Tree Theatre

LIGHTING

Jessica Hung Han Yun, Equus, English Touring Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Christopher Nairne, Preludes, Southwark Playhouse

Clancy Flynn, An Act of God, The Vaults

Nic Farman, Night of the Living Dead - Live!, Pleasance

VIDEO

Ben Bull, Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre

Andrzej Goulding, The Unreturning, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Douglas Baker, Moby Dick, Jack Studio Theatre

CHOREOGRAPHY & PANTOS

CHOREOGRAPHY / MOVEMENT

Oti Mabuse, Ain't Misbehavin, Southwark Playhouse

Simon Adkins, 42nd Street, Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Zak Nemorin, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Union Theatre

PANTOS

Sleeping Beauty, Greenwich Theatre

The Nativity Panto, King's Head

IDEA / PERFORMANCE PIECE / ENSEMBLES

IDEA Production (productions which are innovative / devised / experiential / atypical)

Bullet Tongue Reloaded, Big House

Crisis? What Crisis?, Colab Factory

Dear Elizabeth, Gate Theatre

Sex Sex Men Men, Pecs Drag Kings, Yard Theatre

PERFORMANCE PIECE

Queens of Sheba, Battersea Arts Centre

Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre

What Girls Are Made Of, Soho Theatre

COMPANY ENSEMBLE

Operation Mincemeat, New Diorama

Neck or Nothing, Pleasance

Ubu, Shoreditch Town Hall

PERFORMANCE ENSEMBLE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Southwark Playhouse - Matt Burns, Rosalind Ford, Joey Hickman, Philippa Hogg, James Marlowe

Dinomania, New Diorama - Janet Etuk, Hamish MacDougall, Sophie Steer, Harriet Webb

Ghost Quartet, Boulevard Theatre - Carly Bawden, Niccolò Curradi, Maimuna Memon, Zubin Varla

Little Baby Jesus, Orange Tree Theatre - Anyebe Godwin, Rachel Nwokoro, Khai Shaw

OFFFEST

CAMDEN FRINGE

All The Little Lights by Jane Upton

Ophelia Rewound by Antigoni Spanou

Red Peter from Grid Theatre

Villain. Interrupted, from Dolls in Amber

VOILA EUROPE

Napoli 44 by Compagnia Francesca Caprioli

I will Tell You In a Minute by Nuna Livhaber

We Must Live by The Pushkinettes

PRODUCTIONS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

AGES 0-7

The Polar Bears Go, Go, Go!, Unicorn Theatre

The Bed, Little Angel Theatre

The Paper Dolls, Polka Theatre at the New Wimbledon Studio

AGES 8+

Snow White, Chickenshed

The Canterville Ghost, Unicorn Theatre

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Iris Theatre

AGES 13+

Crowded, Half Moon Theatre

Easy, Blue Elephant Theatre

Extremism, Theatre Peckham

PEOPLE'S VOTE

FOODIE EXPERIENCE: Park Theatre

THEATRE BAR: Arcola Theatre

FACILITIES: Above the Stag

MOST COMFORTABLE: Bush Theatre

MOST WELCOMING: Chickenshed

PROGRAMMING POLICY; SOCIAL MEDIA: Bunker Theatre

PROGRAMMES; ONLINE INFO & BOOKING: Jack Studio Theatre

The Offies are a hugely successful aspect of Off West End's work - they recognise and celebrate the excellence, innovation and ingenuity of independent theatres across London, helping to raise the profile and status of independent theatres in London by giving them greater power to promote their work individually and collectively and to reward the new talent that they nurture and that is essential to the future of our theatre industry.

To take part, the needs to invite Offies assessors by contacting OffWestEnd with the date they wish assessors to attend. Nominations are published immediately on the website. As well as the Offies awards for full runs (at least 10 performances), OffWestEnd have now introduced the OffComm, a commendation open to short runs of at least 4 performances, and the OffFest, an award for theatre shows at festivals. In addition, the public can vote for their favourite theatre via the People's Vote.

The full run Offies awards include lead and supporting performance, ensemble, new work, director, production and categories such as opera, choreography, musical director, performance piece, productions for young people and IDEA (for shows that are innovative / devised / experiential / atypical). From 2020, all Offies performance categories will be non gender specific.

Since the Offies awards were created in 2010, there have been over 3,000 nominations, of which 600 have been selected as finalists, and over 200 as winners; and over 130 theatres and other venues have been visited for an assessment. These theatres and venues are not just in central London - they include venues located in Bromley, Enfield, Greenwich, Havering, Haringey, Kingston, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Richmond, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, and Wandsworth.

Photo Credit: Simon Annand

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Abigayle Honeywill and Eleanor Lakin, Zak Nemorin

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Adrian Gee

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
All the Little Lights cast & creatives

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Ashlee Young

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Ben Bull, Richard Gadd

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Cary Crankson

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Crowded cast and creatives

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Gemma Barnett

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
HMS Pinafore cast and creatives

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Jack Reitman and Ben Lambert

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
John Sackville

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
John Savournin, David Eaton

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Jordan Li-Smith

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Lynette Linton

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Mehmet Ergen

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Napoli 44 cast and creatives

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Oti Mabuse

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Queens of Sheba cast & creatives

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Ruby Wax, Marina Bye

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Sally Wood

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Sasha Regan

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Sleeping Beauty, cast & creatives

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
The Polar Bears with Justin Audibert

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Tilda Wickham

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Tobi Kyeremateng

Photo Flash: London's Independent, Fringe & Alternative Theatres Celebrated at THE OFFIE AWARDS 2020
Winsome Pinnock


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