Theatre in Wales

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Award Nomination for “richard III redux [or] Sara Beer[is/not] Richard III”

Kaite O'Reilly

The Llanarth Group Nominated for 2019 James Tait Black Drama Prize , Traverse Theatre , August-27-19
Kaite O'Reilly by The Llanarth Group Nominated for 2019 James Tait Black Drama Prize The Minister for International Relations visited the International Politics Department in Aberystwyth this spring. The university department, the first in the world and one hundred years old this year, makes an impact far beyond Wales. The ministerial brief is broad and the Minister was impressive on a public platform. Not least was the determination she displayed that Wales make its impact out in the greater world.

The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are also one hundred years old. Along with the Hawthornden Prize they are Britain's oldest literary awards. Initially for fiction, drama was added in 2012.

Gary Owen won the award in 2015 for “Iphigenia in Splott”. The first award, three years earlier, was won by Tim Price for “the Radicalisation of Bradley Manning.” The impact that the play made at Edinburgh can be seen below in the reports from August 2013.

On 19th August this year the award ceremony was held at the Traverse Theatre. A piece of theatre from Wales was again up for the James Tait Black Award in 2019.

The prize adjudicators summarised their selection of three plays on three criteria.

“Powerful productions

Dance Nation follows a young dance troupe in Florida trying to reach the national finals. Playwright Clare Barron examines the inner lives and exposes the raw emotions, sexuality and shame experienced during adolescence. “

“Complex themes

Kaite O’Reilly and Phillip B Zarrilli’s thought-provoking,one-woman piece promotes inclusivity in the arts and is written from a radical disability perspective.

It challenges Shakespeare’s representation of the disabled monarch Richard iii, satirising the non-disabled actors who have played the part in the past.”

“Pressing issues

Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play explores themes of race, sex and power. Initially set on a plantation before the American Civil War, it focuses on relationships between slaves and their owners, emphasising the oppression and violence African-Americans have faced.

The drama then shifts to contemporary America, with two therapists highlighting the lack of progress in race relations as they attempt to theorize it.”

In the event Claire Barron took the prize. But three nominations for Wales since the prize's inauguration is good going. The Minister should be satisfied that writers of Wales are making their impact.

Audiences in Edinburgh were not able to see “richard III redux [or] Sara Beer[is/not] Richard III” this summer. A new producer wanted to revive the Llanarth Group's play for Edinburgh this summer. The British Council declined to back the award nominee.

The nominations and the reasons for selection are given by the organisers at:

https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2019/provocative-plays-shortlisted-for-top-prize

Kaite O'Reilly and Philip Zarrilli feature in the press coverage of the award ceremony.

https://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2019/08/james-tait-black-prize-for-drama-2019-the-winner-is/

The list of winners of previous years

https://www.ed.ac.uk/events/james-tait-black/winners/drama

Gary Raymond writes about the production::

https://www.walesartsreview.org/theatre-richard-iii-redux-llanarth-group/

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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