Lenny Henry, Sharon D Clarke, Beverley Knight, Layton Williams and Arinzé Kene were among winners in the first Black British Theatre Awards.
They were held on Sunday (27 October) at the Old Finsbury Town Hall in north London, recognising and celebrating the contributions of black people in the arts.
The Half God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams at Kiln Theatre in Kilburn, London, with Fuel Theatre and Birmingham Rep, was named best production for a play while Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre won the award for best musical production. Porgy and Best at London Coliseum won best opera production.
Layton Williams won the title of best male actor in a musical for taking over the title role in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Apollo Theatre, London, while Sharon D Clarke won best female actor in a musical after returning to play the title role in Caroline, Or Change at London’s Playhouse Theatre. She also won the Lifetime Recognition Award.
The singer Beverley Knight won best supporting female actor in a musical for Sylvia at the Old Vic, and Cavin Cornwall was named best supporting male actor in a musical after playing Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican.
The award for best female actor in a play went to Gloria Williams for Bullet Hole at London’s Park Theatre while Michelle Greenidge was named best supporting female actor in a play for Nine Night at the National Theatre and Trafalgar Studios in London.
Lenny Henry won the award for best supporting male actor in a play for King Hedley II at Theatre Royal Stratford East and Arinzé Kene was named best male actor in a play after performing in his own show, Misty at Bush Theatre and Trafalgar Studios.
The Bush was home to other award winners: Tobi Kyeremateng won best producer for the Bush’s Babylon Festival, while its new artistic director Lynette Lynton won the award for best director for a play or musical for Sweat at London’s Gielgud Theatre.
Composer and arranger Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, whose most recent work included Small Island at the National Theatre, was given the Musical Director Recognition Award, while movement director Shelley Maxwell won the title of Best Choreographer for her movement work on Equus at Theatre Royal Stratford East and for English Touring Theatre.
Leading playwright Debbie Tucker Green, whose plays include Ear For Eye, Nut, Random and Truth and Reconciliation, received the Book and Lyrics Recognition Award.
Designer Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey, whose most recent work includes Anansi the Spider at London’s Unicorn Theatre, was given the Set Design Recognition Award. Sound designer Tony Gayle picked up the Light and Sound Recognition Award.
The BBTAs’ co-founder, Solange Urdang, added: “We can’t wait for next year, which will be even bigger.”
The awards were judged based on a call-out for nominations. The individual awards were open to people of African diaspora and of mixed black African and Caribbean heritage, born or raised for the large part of their life in Britain or as a resident for at least three years.
Black theatre productions needed to have a cast where at least 50% were of African diaspora and of mixed black African and Caribbean heritage and/or the production was based on black subject matters.
Full list of winners
Best Director for a Play or Musical
Lynette Linton, Sweat at Gielgud Theatre, London
Tobi Kyeremateng for Babylon Festival at Bush Theatre, London
Shelley Maxwell, Equus at Theatre Royal Stratford East and English Touring Theatre
Best Opera Production
Porgy and Bess, English National Opera at London Coliseum
Best Dance Performance in a Dance Production
Prentice Whitlow, Rite of Spring for Phoenix Dance Theatre at Sadlers Wells, London
Best Dance Production
Rite of Spring by Phoenix Dance Theatre at Sadlers Wells, London
Light and Sound Recognition Award
Set Design Recognition Award
Book and Lyrics Recognition Award
Debbie Tucker Green
Musical Director Recognition Award
Benjamin Kwasi Burrell
Best Supporting Female Actor in a Play
Michelle Greenidge, Nine Night at National Theatre, London
Best Female Actor in a Play
Gloria Williams, Bullet Hole at Park Theatre, London
Best Supporting Male Actor in a Play
Lenny Henry, King Hedley II at Theatre Royal Stratford East
Best Male Actor in a Play
Arinzé Kene, Misty at Bush Theatre, London
Best Production for a Play
The Half God of Rainfall from Kiln Theatre, Fuel Theatre & Birmingham Rep
Best Supporting Male Actor in a Musical
Cavin Cornwall, Jesus Christ Superstar at Barbican Theatre, London
Best Male Actor in a Musical
Layton Williams, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Apollo Theatre, London
Best Supporting Female Actor in a Musical
Beverley Knight, Sylvia at The Old Vic, London
Best Female Actor in a Musical
Sharon D Clarke, Caroline, Or Change at Playhouse Theatre, London
Best Musical Production
Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre, London
Recent Graduate Award
Amara Okereke, Arts Educational Schools, London
Best Teacher of Performing Arts as a Subject Award
Angeline Bell, The Urdang Academy
Lifetime Recognition Award
Sharon D Clarke