The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide Awards to honour outstanding achievement in regional theatre and the Sherman Theatre Cymru bags the top award. Gary Owen’s play Iphigenia in Splott, directed by Rachel O’Riordan has been widely praised by audiences and critics alike since its opening on May 8t 2015. The UK Theatre Award is another seal of approval for Sherman Cymru’s growing reputation as a producing house in advance of the productions transfer to The National in January 2016.
Rachel O’Riordan commented on Sunday. “I am very proud of Gary Owen’s fantastic achievement and the recognition of his talent this award so wonderfully represents. Sherman Theatre’s continued success depends upon the support of our funders, partners, artists and audiences. Together we can create and develop more opportunities for success for Welsh and Wales based artists. Much love and congratulations to our Associate Artist, Gary Owen, with whom it was my privilege to work on Iphigenia in Splott.”
Iphigenia in Splott was nominated alongside D.C Moore’s Another Place (Theatre Royal Plymouth) and Florian Zeller’s The Father (Theatre Royal Bath). Inspired by the themes of the Greek Myth, award-winning Welsh playwright Gary Owen focuses on the impact that the welfare cuts are having on today’s society. Fusing coarse poetry with the language intrinsic to Splott, an area of Cardiff, Gary Owen’s play brings to the surface the timeless issues that make Iphigenia’s tale so enduring. Gary Owen has previously been the winner of the George Devine, Meyer Whitworth and Pearson Best Play Awards. In June of this year he debuted at The Royal Court with Violence and Son, directed by Hamish Pirie.
The continued success of Iphigenia in Splott, which opened at the Sherman Theatre the day after the General Election, is linked with its complete relevance to today’s society. This timely, one-woman play looks the world through the eyes of Effie, a hard-nosed, unemployed young woman who spends her days in a careless spiral of drink, drugs and drama. A chance meeting sparks events that create a searing indictment of the current state of society, the duty of care extended to all of its citizens and the current regard held for the NHS.
During his acceptance speech Gary Owen commented: “When this recession started, we expected the big beasts of British drama to show what was happening to people. And it hasn’t happened at all. So thank God theatre is still there to shout about what is happening.”
The production will transfer to the Temporary Theatre at The National Theatre, from 27 January – 20 February 2016, as part of a programme of work that the National Theatre presents as original, ambitious and unexpected.
The National Theatre’s Director, Rufus Norris said: “We’re delighted to be bringing Sherman Cymru’s production of Iphigenia in Splott to the National’s Temporary Theatre. London audiences need the chance to see this vivid, intense and devastating piece. It’s exactly the type of programming the Temporary Theatre was created for and a powerful reminder of the essential new writing being produced by theatres across the country.”
This is the first time a Welsh producing house has transferred to The National Theatre and combined with the UK Theatre Award, heralds another important milestone for the Sherman Theatre under Rachel O’Riordan’s Artistic Directorship. Further cementing its drive and combined commitment to the development of new writing, alongside a programme of classic text.
Under the artistic direction of Rachel O’Riordan, Sherman Cymru makes and curates exciting theatre. It develops and nurtures the work of Welsh and Wales based artists. The Sherman generates opportunities for people to connect with theatre through relevant, inspiring and visionary engagement.