Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is delighted to have announced today (31 January 2020) that it has won London Theatre of the Year Award at The Stage Awards 2020.
It has been a transformational year for Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. It has undertaken a £1 million facelift to refresh its front and back-of-house spaces, as well as created new accessible rehearsal, learning and research and development facilities – carrying out the entire project without closure.
Under the directorship of Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul and Executive Director Mathew Russell, the organisation’s on-stage programme and off-stage community and outreach work have a symbiotic relationship. In 2019, the theatre produced 14 shows, with an estimated 45% of audience members attending for the first time – in a borough that has the fourth lowest arts engagement in London.
Its landmark project, Essex on Stage, championed positive notions of Essex. Beginning with an acclaimed production of David Eldridge’s In Basildon in March 2019, it included talent development and new artistic work, with the commission of Sadie Hasler’s Stiletto Beach and the regional premiere of Romford-born playwright Luke Norris’ So Here We Are in Autumn 2019. Essex on Stage has been made possible by the generous support of The Clothworkers’ Foundation. Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is the recipient of the 2018 Clothworkers’ Theatre Award, a competitive annual prize given to a regional producing theatre, that has only ever been awarded five times.
Elsewhere, the theatre partnered with the National Theatre on the second iteration of the NT’s large-scale Public Acts programme – with an impressive participatory production of As You Like It – while co-producing partners have also included the New Wolsey in Ipswich, Derby Theatre, Hull Truck Theatre, Oldham Coliseum and Central School of Speech and Drama. At a time when theatres’ need to be open and accessible to all parts of their communities is at the top of the collective agenda, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is making this its raison d’être and proving that quality theatre and outreach can go hand in hand.
Mathew Russell says: ‘We’re over the moon and still a little bit shell-shocked that Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch has been named London Theatre of Year, joining an illustrious list of previous winners. This is extraordinary recognition of a transformational year, and a brilliant team of hard working people collaborating together: staff, board, partners, artists, funders, donors, contractors alike.
But perhaps most significantly we’d love to thank the audiences and participants who’ve been together on this journey, loyal and increasingly new too, trusting as we try out different things together.
Havering, and outer East London, isn’t always a place that would think of itself as able to secure London Theatre of the Year. But it should. It’s full of such amazing talent and as the 11th fastest changing borough in the country, is an exciting location to live, work and play. They’ll be so much richly deserved pride in winning this accolade, which will make a real difference in helping us all to create great theatre.’
The Stage Awards launched in 2010 to highlight the achievements of theatre companies and individuals across the UK and globally. The winner of each category was announced at the awards ceremony on January 31, 2020 at the Royal Opera House, London.
For a full list of the winners and nominees in each category, please visit www.thestage.co.uk/awards/#2020shortlist