Kenneth Tynan Award
To recognise excellence in the field of dramaturgy, we hold a biennial award named after the UK's first dramaturg: Kenneth Tynan.
This biennial award is given to one outstanding theatre or dance professional working in the field of dramaturgy, living in the United Kingdom – and is the only award in the country specifically to recognise this field. From nominations put forward by the public, the Kenneth Tynan Award Panel has now selected a shortlist.
The 2021 Kenneth Tynan Award was given to Gail Babb at an online ceremony on Saturday 20 November, forming the culmination of a day of speakers and panel discussions open to members and the public.
The Kenneth Tynan Award 2021 was sponsored by:
winner + shortlist
The judging panel read 22 nominations from across the UK, ranging 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.
The winner of the 2021 Kenneth Tynan Award was Gail Babb, with Lou Cope and Neil Grutchfield shortlisted.
The panel also wants to commend the work of:
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 winner of the Kenneth Tynan Award is decided by a judging panel made up of d'n board members and other theatre professionals.
The panel for the 2021 Award is:
dramaturg, researcher & theatre-maker
writer, director, dramaturg, researcher & lecturer
dramaturg & co-founder of the d'n
writer & dramaturg
The Kenneth Tynan Award is the only award in the United Kingdom that is given to a dramaturg.
Please help us celebrate these unsung heroes of British theatre, and enable the d'n to continue with this biennual award. Your donation would be much appreciated.
previous winners + speakers
As well as an award ceremony, the KTA is a chance to reflect on the practice of dramaturgy.
Here you can find speeches from KTA winners, as well as from speakers at the event.
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.
His appointment challenged traditional British management structures assigning artistic and managerial responsibility to actor-managers, and in post Tynan provided a model of literary management that continues to be appropriated and refashioned by theatre companies throughout the United Kingdom. […] his impact on the theatre industry itself has been extraordinary.
Being widely read and knowledgeable in world theatre, Tynan played a great part in forming the theatre's repertoire and pushing Olivier to make more adventurous choices. He commissioned and worked on new plays and translations, attended rehearsals, edited programmes and books, and acted as the public face of the theatre. He also played an enormous role in destroying the old system of censorship.
His work as a dramaturg was invaluable, and as such, he made an immeasurable contribution to British theatre.
Rouse tempers, goad, lacerate
and raise whirlwinds.
Photography: Julian Lloyd