The Society for Theatre Research

STR Theatre Book Prize for books published in 2017


Nick Hytner Wins STR Theatre Book Prize


Rory Kinnear, who presented the prize with winner Sir Nicholas Hytner (Credit: Ben Wooldridge).

Balancing Acts, Sir Nicholas Hytner's account of his years at the head of the National Theatre, was announced as the winner of the Society's annual Theatre Book Prize, chosen from over 60 titles entered by publishers from books published in 2017. The prize was presented by leading NT actor Rory Kinnear (where he was appearing in the Scottish Play) at a gathering in the Grand Saloon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Now an established event on the Society's calendar, it brings together writers, publishers, academics, critics and theatre folk ranging from 90-year old actress and former Tiller girl Audrey Melbourne to members of the Society's young New Research Network members, Directors of renowned publishing imprints to West End stage managers.


Howard Loxton welcomes guests to openproceedings. (Credit: Ben Wooldridge).

Neither STR President Timothy West or out Chairman Simon Sladen were able to attend this year so as Society representative and Chair of the Judges Howard Loxton opened the proceedings by welcoming guests and introducing Rory Kinnear to make the awards to the authors of the six short-listed titles:

Balancing Acts
by Nicholas Hytner (Jonathan Cape)

Black British Drama - A Transnational Story
by Michael Pearce (Routledge)

Child Actors on the London Stage, c 1600
by Julie Ackroyd (Sussex Academic Press)

Costume in Performance
by Donatella Barbieri (Bloomsbury)

London Theatres
by Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley (Frances Lincoln)

Shakespeare on Stage: Vol 2 ­ Twelve Leading Actors on Twelve Key Roles
by Julian Curry (Nick Hern Books)

A listing of all the titles entered can be found below (with links to their publisher's catalogues).

After surveying the wide range of books entered for the prize this year Howard then introduced the judges to speak about the short-listed titles and some others that they found especially interesting, before Rory Kinnear was called back to announce the winner.

On seeing the name but before reading it he described the recipient with warm appreciation and the audience immediately realised who it was – and clearly felt this a worthy winner as Sir Nicholas came up to accept the prize from him.

A few moments earlier judge Paul Miller had described Balancing Acts as "a notably candid book from such a famously private person. It opens with a bravura account, flirting with gossip but keeping this side of naming names, of the life of the Director of the National Theatre .... [It] makes a fantastic case, at once sophisticated and robust for a theatre with a generous popular gesture at its heart: a gloriously fitting coda to 12 years at the National Theatre where he showed us how that's done."

Sir Nicholas, surprised and delighted, accepted the award declaring "as well as an opportunity to get off my chest and on to paper all of the stories that have built up over the years, writing this book has also been an experience that has enabled me to think about exactly what I have learned and whom I have learned it from."

A sound recording of the whole event will be posted on this website shortly.


Sir Ncholas responding to being given the award. (Credit: Ben Wooldridge)


Rory Kinnear and Sir Nicholas Hytner (centre) with the judges,
the short listed authors, and some of their publishers. (Credit: Ben Wooldridge).


The Judges were

Paul MillerPaul Miller who is Artistic Director at the in-the-round Orange Tree Theatre in 2014 after being Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres. He had directed plays for the National Theatre, the Royal Court, in the West End, and among others Hampstead Theatre, the Bush, the Arcola and the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Sam MarloweSam Marlowe is a theatre critic who trained as an actor and began her writing career as a critic and features writer for What's On In London magazine. She later became that magazine's theatre editor, before going on to work at The Independent, where she regularly contributed arts features. She is now a freelance arts journalist and regular theatre critic for The Times, Metro and The Chicago Tribune, and a judge for Theatre Awards UK.

Jeffery RichardsJeffery Richards is Emeritus Professor of Cultural History at Lancaster University. His numerous publications include Sir Henry Irving: a Victorian Actor and his World, which was short-listed for the STR Theatre Book Prize in 2005.


Books published in 2017 entered for the Theatgre Book Prize

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All Change Please: A Practical Guide to Achieving Gender Equality in Theatre
by Lucy Kerbel (Nick Hern Books)

Publisher's link
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Are You Going to do That Little Jump?
by Robert Gillespie (Jane Nightwork)

Publisher's link
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Authenticity in Contemporary Theatre and Performance
by Daniel Schulze (Bloomsbury)

Publisher's link
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Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre
by Nicholas Hytner (Jonathan Cape)

Publisher's link
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Black British Drama A Transnational Story
by Michael Pearce (Routledge)

Publisher's link
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Child Actors on the London Stage, Circa 1600
by Julie Ackroyd (Sussex Academic Press)

Publisher's link
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Costume in Performance
by Donatella Barbieri (Bloomsbury)

Publisher's link
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Davis and Penhall's Sunny Afternoon
by John Fleming (Routledge)

Publisher's link
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Devising Theatre With Stan's Cafe
by Mark Crosley & James Yarker (Bloomsbury)

Publisher's link
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Disobedient Theatre
by Chris Johnston (Bloomsbury)

Publisher's link
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Do You Know Who I Am?
by Tim Pigott-Smith (Bloomsbury Continuum)

Publisher's link
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Documenting Performance - The Context and Processes of Digital Curation and Archiving
Edited by Toni Sant (Bloomsbury)

Publisher's link
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Elizabethan and Jacobean Reappropriation in Contemporary British Drama 'Upstart Crows'
by Graham Saunders (Palgrave)

Publisher's link
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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre
(West End Producer, Oberon)

Publisher's link
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Fenella Fielding: Do You Mind If I Smoke?
by Fenella Fielding & Simon McKay (Peter Owen)

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For the Love of Dance
by Dame Beryl Grey (Oberon)

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Get Me the Urgent Biscuits: An Assistant's Adventures in Theatreland
by Sweetpea Slight (Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Orion)

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Hamlet, Globe to Globe: Taking Shakespeare to Every Country in the World
by Dominic Dromgoole (Canongate)

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Hear My Song
by Joseph Greenwood (Peter Lang)

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Immersive Theatre and Audience Experience Space, Game and Story in the Work of Punchdrunk
Rose Biggin (Palgrave)

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Jane Austen and Performance
by Marina Cano (Palgrave Macmillan)

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Jasmin Vardimon's Dance Theatre: Movement, memory and metaphor
by Libby Worth & Jasmin Vardimon (Routledge)

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London Theatres
by Michael Coveney & Peter Dazeley (Francis Lincoln)

Publisher's link
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Man-Monkeys
by Alan Stockwell (Vesper Hawk)

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Must Close Saturday: The Decline and Fall of the British Musical Flop
by Adrian Wright (Boydell)

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New Playwriting at Shakespeare's Globe
by Vera Cantoni (Bloomsbury)

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One thing and Another
by Jonathan Miller (Oberon)

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Performing Queer Modernism
by Penny Farfan (Oxford University Press)

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Perspectives on Contemporary Irish Theatre: Populating the Stage
Edited by Anne Etienne & Thierry Dubost (Palgrave)

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Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare's Theater
by Matteo A. Pangallo (University of Pennsylvania Press)

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Popular Performance
Edited by Adam Ainsworth, Oliver Double & Louise Peacock (Bloomsbury)

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Roadblocks in Acting
by Rob Roznowski (Palgrave)

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Shakespeare and Conceptual Blending - Cognition, Creativity, Criticism
by Cleta Booth (Palgrave)

Publisher's link
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Shakespeare in the Theatre: Mark Rylance at the Globe
by Stephen Purcell (Bloomsbury)

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Shakespeare in the Theatre: Nicholas Hytner
by Abigail Rokison-Woodall (Bloomsbury Arden)

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Shakespeare On Stage: Volume 2 - Twelve Leading Actors on Twelve Key Roles
by Julian Curry (Nick Hern Books)

Publisher's link
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Shakespeare, Race and Performance
Edited by Delia Jarett-Macauley (Routledge)

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Sherlock Holmes from Screen to Stage - Post-Millennial Adaptations in British Theatre
by Benjamin Poore (Palgrave)

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Social and Political Theatre in 21st-Century Britain - Staging Crisis
by Vicky Angelaki (Bloomsbury)

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Speak Well of Me
by W. Sydney Robinson (Oberon)

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Strolling Player (Albert Finney)
by Gabriel Hershman (History Press)

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The Contemporary Political Play - Rethinking Dramaturgical Structure
by Sarah Grochala (Bloomsbury)

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The Illegitimate Adventures Of A Theatrical Eccentric
by Virginia Russell (Mistry Press)

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The Routledge Research Companion to Early Drama and Performance
Edited by Pamela King (Routledge)

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The Soho Theatre (1968-1981)
by Matthew Morrison (STR)

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The Theatre of Anthony Neilson
by Trish Reid (Bloomsbury)

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The Vagabond Lover
by Garry O'Connor (Centre House Press)

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Theater and Cultural Politics for a New World
Edited by Chinua Thelwell (Routledge)

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Theatre and Governance in Britain 1500-1900
by Tony Fisher (Cambridge University Press)

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Tim Crouch's An Oak Tree
by Catherine Love (Routledge)

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Tip of the Tongue: Reflections on Language and Meaning
by Peter Brook (Nick Hern Books)

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Unearthing Shakespeare
by Valerie Clayman Pye (Routledge)

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Wilkie Collins The Red Vial
Edited by Caroline Radcliffe (Francis Boutle Publishers)

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William Hutt Soldier Actor
by Keith Garebian (Guernica)

Publisher's link


To mark the occasion of its Golden Jubilee in 1998 the Society decided to sponsor an annual Theatre Book Prize, with the first award being made in 1998 to a book published during the calendar year 1997.

Eligibility is confined to books, in English, of original research into any aspect of the history and technique of British or British related theatre history and practice. It is not restricted to authors of British nationality nor to books solely from British publishers. The current value of the Prize is £500, given to the author.

The winner is chosen by a different panel of judges usually comprised of a theatre practitioner, a theatre critic and a theatre academic chaired by a representative of the Society. The Prize money and administrative expenses are derived from investment capital already accrued from donations from Society members and other sympathetic donors. Further sponsorship and donations are welcomed so that a more generous Prize may be given in future years.

Publishers wishing to enter books should email bookprize@str.org.uk for details of criteria and submission procedure.


Entry for the year 2017 is now closed and a list of the books received can be found here.



Previous winners

2016Stage Management Chaos by Jackie Harvey, with Tim Kelleher (McFarland)
2015The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968 by Steve Nicholson
(University of Exeter Press)
2014Oliver! by Marc Napolitano (Oxford University Press)
2013The National Theatre Story by Daniel Rosenthal (Oberon)
2012Mr Foote's Other Leg by Ian Kelly (Picador)
2011Covering McKellen by David Weston (Rickshaw Publishing)
2010The Reluctant Escapologist by Mike Bradwell (Nick Hern Books)
2009Different Drummer: the Life of Kenneth Macmillan by Jann Parry (Faber & Faber)
2008Theatre and Globalisation: Irish Drama in the Celtic Tiger Era by Patrick Lonergan (Palgrave Macmillan)
2007State of the Nation by Michael Billington (Faber & Faber)
2006John Osborne: A Patriot for Us by John Heilpern (Chatto & Windus)
20051599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro  (Faber & Faber)
2004Margot Fonteyn by Meredith Daneman (Penguin/Viking)
2003National Service by Richard Eyre (Bloomsbury)
2002A History of Irish Theatre 1601-2000 by Christopher Morash
(Cambridge University Press)
2001Reflecting the Audience: London Theatregoing, 1840-1880 by Jim Davis & Victor Emeljanow (Iowa University Press/University of Hertfordshire Press)
2000Politics, Prudery and Perversion.... Censorship 1906-68 by Nicholas de Jongh
(Methuen)
1999Garrick by Ian McIntyre (Allen Lane)
1998Threads of Time by Peter Brook (Methuen)
1997The Life of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent by Colin Chambers  (Nick Hern)

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