Danny Boyle wins theatre award for Olympics opening ceremony
Director uses Evening Standard Awards night to plead for increased support for arts from UK government
DIRECTOR Danny Boyle, whose films have won Oscars and Baftas, has a new trophy: he was given the ‘Beyond Theatre’ honour at last night’s London Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his universally-acclaimed Olympics opening ceremony.
The award, which went to Boyle "and his team", was presented by Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton at an event hosted by actor James Corden. The starry audience included Colin Firth, Sir Ian McKellen, Ruth Wilson, Bill Nighy and Ralph Fiennes.
As The Daily Telegraph recalls, the spectacular ceremony cost £27m and featured 7,500 volunteers picked from 15 million people who put themselves forward to take part.
It drew a global audience of around one billion and was the most-watched opening ceremony in Olympic history in both the UK and the USA. It was so popular domestically that the BBC rebroadcast it in full, at the request of viewers.
Collecting the honour, the Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting director urged the audience at the Savoy Hotel to lobby for the inclusion of arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate.
His was not the only voice raised in protest at government policy. National Theatre director Sir Nicholas Hytner called on culture secretary Maria Miller to fund provincial theatres to the level he enjoys in the capital, the BBC reports.
Hytner claimed the government could not rely on donations to fill the funding gap, saying: "Philanthropy is not an alternative to public money - it is a consequence of public funding." He said further cuts to theatre budgets made "no economic sense".
The awards were also hailed as a night celebrating youth, with Best Play going to Nick Payne for Constellations, which has just transferred to the West End from the Royal Court. At just 29, Payne is the youngest-ever winner of the award.
Hattie Morahan confounded predictions by winning Best Actress for her interpretation of Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, beating three much more established performers, Cate Blanchett, Eileen Atkins and Laurie Metcalf.
Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2012 in full:
Best play - Constellations - Nick Payne (Royal Court Upstairs)
Best director - Nicholas Hytner - Timon of Athens (National's Olivier)
Best actor - Simon Russell Beale - Collaborators (National's Cottesloe)
Best actress - Hattie Morahan - A Doll's House (Young Vic)
Best musical - Sweeney Todd - Chichester Festival and Adelphi
Best design - Soutra Gilmour - Inadmissible Evidence (Donmar Warehouse) and Antigone (National's Olivier)
Most promising playwright - Lolita Chakrabarti - Red Velvet (Tricycle)
Outstanding newcomer - Matthew Tennyson - Making Noise Quietly (Donmar Warehouse)
Special award - Nicholas Hytner - for his dynamic directorship of the National Theatre
Editor's award - David Hare - for his contribution to theatre
Beyond Theatre award - Danny Boyle and his team - For the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics
Burberry award for emerging director - Simon Godwin
Moscow Art Theatre's Golden Seagull - Judi Dench