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Awards

Artistic director Paul Smith wins Olwen Wymark Award

By | Artistic Director, Awards, News

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, has today been recognised for his “exceptional encouragement of theatre writing” with an Olwen Wymark Award.

The gongs are handed out every year by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), with the winners nominated by WGGB members.

Long-time Middle Child collaborator Luke Barnes, who has written All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, Weekend Rockstars and Ten Storey Love Song, nominated Paul.

Luke said: ”Paul Smith is the best thing to happen to me as a writer.

“When I was young Paul and I met, in Newcastle, and we talked about John McGrath and he mooted the idea of making work that talked about the biggest ideas as a good night out of theatre.

“This was the starting place for me finding my voice, my art, and my purpose.

“Paul is the most generous person I know in theatre”

“Not only has Paul shaped the way that I see the world and how I see theatre, he has also pushed me to think bigger than I ever would have given myself permission to.

“He has given me the self belief to know that, no matter what privileges I exercise, I can be useful to the communities and audiences I serve.

“He has taught me that the audience and the people that our buildings, organisations, and art, serve are bigger than us.

“He has given me confidence, activism, and artistry and continues to every time we collaborate.

“Paul is the most generous person I know in theatre, to artists, to communities, to audiences; and people like Paul go unnoticed and it’s my privilege to nominate him for this award and to see him win it.

“I hope he carries on inspiring writers for work for audiences and communities for decades to come and that as many people as possible benefit from knowing him like I have.”

“Working with writers to develop new plays is one of the best parts of my job”

The Olwen Wymark Awards are the brainchild of playwrights Mark Ravenhill and David James.

They were set up to give WGGB members the opportunity to publicly thank individuals, rather than institutions, who had given them exception encouragement in theatre writing during the past year.

They are named in honour of playwright Olwen Wymark, passionate supporter of WGGB and former chair of the WGGB Theatre Committee, who died in 2013.

Paul Smith said: “I’m really delighted to win this award as working with writers to develop new plays is one of the best parts of my job.

“Middle Child, a company I co-founded in 2011, exists to support, champion and showcase the work of brilliant playwrights.

“In my work as both a dramaturg and director I aim to put processes and practices in place to support writers to tell the best version of their story, and Luke’s nomination for this award feels like recognition of that approach.

“It’s been brilliant working with Luke to create good nights out with big ideas and his work has massively informed my own over the years.

“He is an incredible writer, person and friend and I simply wouldn’t be where I am in my career without him.

“I’d also like to express solidarity with all freelance writers in our industry at this difficult time, and can’t wait to get back to working collaboratively to bring plays to life soon.”

The cast of The Canary and the Crow take their bow after a performance in the Paines Plough Roundabout

The Canary and the Crow wins two Offies

By | Awards, News
The cast of The Canary and the Crow take their bow after a performance in the Paines Plough Roundabout

Congratulations to the cast of The Canary and the Crow for their success at the Offies, awards which recognise work performed ‘off’ the West End in London.

Rachel Barnes, Laurie Jamieson, Nigel Taylor and Daniel Ward won the best performance ensemble award, for their performances at the Arcola Theatre in January 2020.

Writer, Daniel, also won the prize for best performance piece, adding to his already hefty haul of awards for the show over the past year.

These gongs are the latest in a long line of accolades for those involved in the show.

Daniel previously won a Writers’ Guild Award and the George Devine Award in 2020.

In 2019 the production also received the Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence, after its run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “Everyone at Middle Child is absolutely delighted to win two Off West Awards for The Canary and the Crow.

“The continued success of this show is testament to the dedication and hard work of the entire team.

“I’m thrilled to see the excellence of Dan’s play acknowledged once more, and couldn’t be happier for the recognition of the show’s incredible ensemble.

“Dan, Rachel, Laurie and Nigel are so talented, so driven, and so great to work with and they deserve every success.

“It’s also an incredible story for Nigel to receive an acting award for his first ever theatre performance.

“Thanks so much to everyone who has supported the show over the years, and to the Arcola for hosting us back in January 2020.”

Daniel Ward in The Canary and the Crow

Daniel Ward wins the 2020 George Devine Award for The Canary and the Crow

By | Artist Development, Awards, News, Shows
Daniel Ward in The Canary and the Crow

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Daniel Ward has won this year’s George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright, for his play, The Canary and the Crow

BBC Radio 4’s Front Row revealed Daniel as the winner on air last night. He also takes home £15,000 in prize money. 

It’s been a big year for Daniel, with success at the Writers’ Guild Awards in January, where he won Best Play for Young Audiences with the same play. 

Last month he was also shortlisted for the 2020 Alfred Fagon Award, the leading prize for Black British playwrights. The winner will be announced online this Thursday (26 November).

Daniel said: “To sum up what it means to win this award is so, so difficult. I am honoured, delighted, humbled and feel incredibly unworthy to have my name sit alongside the prestigious list of previous George Devine winners. 

“I am thankful to everyone that has contributed to the creation of this piece, too numerous to mention, so please excuse me for not going into an expansive list. Please know that I hold everyone in my heart.

“In a year when the arts and theatre has faced such turmoil, I am thankful to the artists who continue to bring such creativity, light and inspiration to the world. I pray that light continues to shine into next year and beyond. 

“There are writers who made the shortlist for the George Devine award who have personally inspired me, so thank you.”

The Canary and the Crow is a semi-autobiographical piece of grime-inspired gig theatre that tells the story of a working class black kid accepted to a prestigious grammar school.

Daniel added: “I am a black man. The Canary and the Crow is a story that centres the lived experience of a black man. 

“In 2020 what that means has taken on much greater significance. I wrote this play to highlight the often difficult to articulate experiences of black people navigating society. 

“When it was staged the response was far more positive than I could have ever imagined, but what was particularly special was the black and brown people who approached me, telling me how much it resonated with them and thanking me for championing their stories. 

“Honestly, I felt that was reward enough. The George Devine award is a very welcome, but very unexpected bonus.

“I humbly accept this award not only for myself but also on behalf of those black and brown people who have been often overlooked and undervalued. Simply put, winning this award, in this year, for this story, means everything.”

“We’re honoured to be associated with such a brilliant piece of work”

Originally written in 2014, Daniel developed the script with Middle Child during a week-long residency in 2018.

Middle Child then produced and premiered the show at Hull Truck Theatre in 2019.

It went on to great success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, winning a number of awards and rave reviews, before transferring to London’s Arcola Theatre in January 2020.

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “From the first time I read Dan’s play it was clear that this was a story that had to be told. Its subsequent success is testament to Dan’s hard work and ability as a writer.  

“His play is a vital and searing dissection of racism and classism, a stunning call to arms which demands change. We’re honoured to be associated with such a brilliant piece of work and can’t wait to see what Dan goes on to do next.”

Previous winners of the George Devine Award include Richard Bean, Mike Leigh, Laura Wade, Lucy Prebble and Middle Child associate artist, Tom Wells

Above: Daniel Ward in The Canary and the Crow. Photo by The Other Richard.

The Canary and the Crow Edinbrugh Festival Fringe 2019

Three Offie nominations for The Canary and the Crow

By | Awards, Shows
The Canary and the Crow Edinbrugh Festival Fringe 2019

Laurie Jamieson (l) and Daniel Ward (r) in The Canary and the Crow. Photo: The Other Richard.

The company of The Canary and the Crow has been nominated for three Off West End Theatre Awards, also known as the Offies, following its run at London’s Arcola Theatre.

The whole cast have been nominated for Best Performance Ensemble, while writer and performer Daniel Ward has been nominated for Best Performance Piece

Performer Laurie Jamieson has also been nominated for Best Supporting Performance in a Play.

The Offies were launched in 2011 to help 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.

The awards cover a calendar year and the winners are announced in the spring of the following year.

In January 2020 Daniel Ward won a Writers’ Guild Award for Best Play for Young Audiences for The Canary and the Crow, while the show also won the Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019.

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