The Dramaturgs’ Network announces the Shortlist for the 2021 Kenneth Tynan Award (KTA)

To recognise excellence in the field of dramaturgy, the Dramaturgs’ Network presents the
Kenneth Tynan Award (KTA) 2021. Established in 2011, this biennial award honours
theatre professionals, working and residing in the United Kingdom, who have made
an outstanding contribution to dramaturgy in the UK in the past two years (2019 –
2021), regardless of their job title.

This year the award panel received 22 nominations from all corners of the United Kingdom
highlighting the wide range of excellent work of dramaturgs and their contribution to the
performance industry. Nominations ranged from freelance dramaturgs, to those in full time
positions in theatre institutions, working across new writing, devising and dance. They
included practitioners nurturing new talents, developing and running programs for those with
little access to theatre, as well as dramaturgs working closely with established writers,
choreographers and directors in shaping professional productions.


Gail Babb is a theatre maker who specialises in creating new work and supporting emerging
artists. As a dramaturg and director, she has created shows for theatres, found sites
(including museums and a derelict school), as well as national and international touring. Gail
has been nominated for her work of excellence as a dramaturg, theatre maker and
collaborator, most recently in Run it back, with Talawa Theatre, directed by Coral Messam
and co created with the group, and The Body Remembers, made with multi disciplinary artist
Heather Agyepong (BAC and other venues). The reason for shortlisting Gail is because she
nourishes, supports and challenges artists and emerging practitioners, and is thorough,
detailed and passionate. She champions the work of black writers and makers, and their
stories, working tirelessly to ensure rigour and quality, while demonstrating an incisive
awareness of context. She has a strong track record in participatory theatre practice both
through her work at Talawa and as an academic. Quoting from one of the several
nominations: “I would love to see Gail celebrated for the sheer artistry, knowledge of
structure and ability to work outside accepted structures.”

Lou Cope is a Brighton-based dramaturg who has worked across the UK, Europe, Australia
and the Middle East. She works across ballet, contemporary, South Asian, participatory and
inclusive dance and theatre, and specialises in Production, Practice and Organisational
Dramaturgy. Lou has been nominated for promoting and strengthening the field of dance
dramaturgy, and for her outstanding work on productions with Birmingham Royal Ballet,
Lewis Major on (S)words, Aakash Odedra on Samsara and the Amnesty International
Freedom of Speech & ACTA Award-winning #JeSuis, and many more. Lou was also
nominated for her initiative creating bursaries for people to work with a dramaturg for the first
time and her offerings of professional development for choreographers and dramaturgs
through courses, podcasts and workshops. She is put forward by a colleague for “her
commitment, wisdom, care and approach which have been valued by people right across the

Neil Grutchfield is a freelance dramaturg and script reader with 20 years’ experience. He
also works as New Writing Manager for Synergy Theatre Project and reads for the
Theatre503 Playwriting Award and Koestler Arts Awards. Neil has been nominated for his
tireless work at Synergy nurturing writers and new plays to put unheard stories about the
criminal justice system on theatre main stages. Neil’s recent work with commissioned
playwrights include Hassan Abdulrazzak, Natalie Mitchell and Ambreen Razia. He has
provided dramaturgical support to approximately 30 prisoner and ex-prisoner writers at all
stages of development, steering them towards opportunities with Synergy and mainstream
theatres. During the pandemic he delivered correspondence courses for prisons and online
courses for ex-prisoners. He treats all writers, regardless of background, with the same
respect and commitment, offering incisive rigorous feedback and tenaciously championing
those he believes have great potential. To quote one writer who has benefited from his
support: “Neil has an intoxicating knowledge of theatre. He’s thoughtful, considerate,
potently perceptive and alarmingly generous with his time and effort.”

Hanna Slättne, head of the KTA panel 2021, said:

“The nominations this year were exceptionally strong, making the panel’s decision
very hard. We have opted for shortlisting practitioners not only doing exceptional
work to a high standard of excellence but also those working in less visible positions:
dramaturgs as makers, working in participatory arts and in dance. Dramaturgs who
nurture artistic processes and artists at different stages in their journey with their
generosity, care and expertise.”

The panel also wants to commend the work of dramaturgs Rita McDade, Royal
Conservatoire Scotland, for her innovative and groundbreaking dramaturgical work in
forefronting British Sign Language and artists working in BSL; and Francesca Peschier for
her work in the New Works department at Liverpool Playhouse for her artistic leadership
and passion in platforming and celebrating voices that are often left unheard.
The nominations were shortlisted by this year’s KTA panel members; Oladipo Agboluaje
(playwright and dramaturg), Hannah Khalil (playwright), Stewart Pringle (dramaturg National
Theatre), Sarah Sigal (playwright and dramaturg), Hanna Slättne (dramaturg), and Katalin
Trencsényi (dramaturg).

The Kenneth Tynan Award will be presented at the Kenneth Tynan Award ceremony on 20th
November 2021 at 7.30 pm, live streamed on HowlRound.

The ceremony will be part of a day-long online event, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the
Dramaturgs’ Network. It will feature roundtables and discussions bringing dramaturgs
together to exchange ideas, discuss inspirational practices from many corners of the world,
and focus on contemporary dramaturgy that responds to the most recent challenges and
innovations in the field and brings attention to best practices.
Link to the event (and registration):

Kenneth Tynan Award sponsors:

National Theatre & Nick Hern Books
Event sponsors
Tom Stoppard & The Society for Theatre Research
Asian Dramaturgs’ Network, HowlRound & Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas
Methuen Drama, David Hare & Tamás Gádor.
Information for editors:
Established in 2001, the Dramaturgs’ Network is a volunteer arts organisation, supporting
practitioners, developing and sharing the practice and theory of dramaturgy.
The award is named after Kenneth Tynan (1927 – 1980), the first dramaturg in the United
Kingdom. A brilliant and feared critic and a great supporter of the cause of a subsidised
repertory theatre, Tynan gave up his job at The Observer to join Laurence Olivier at the
newly established National Theatre. He worked as a literary manager between 1963 and
1974, paving the way to the success of the first-ever publicly funded theatre in Britain.
Previous KTA award winners are Suzanne Bell (Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester),
Hanna Slättne (Tinderbox Theatre, Belfast), Ruth Little (Akram Khan Company, London),
Lloyd Trott (RADA, London).

To read more about the award:

More information on the live-streamed Award Ceremony:

For more information:


Source: direct contact

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