London Awards for Art and Performance 2011

Friday, 29 July, 2011

Brent Crude glides among the canapés at the Waldorf

Ken McClymont. the call from the National Theatre should be on its way any day now

Ask Ken McClymont about the quality of University education these days, and you will likely get a frosty response. Ken, an artist and probably unreformable fringe theatre director, was among the guests at the London Festival Fringe awards, nominated (though not winning) anything for The White Whore and the Bit Player, a production which, earlier this year, ran at the Rosemary Branch theatre (a venue which was a winner of a Fringe Report Award in 2010). His ‘unreconstructed’ view of university or college education is that it’s where you go to grow up, not to take vocational training in PR or ‘business’. The fact that students emerge with the kind of debt that would have bought a house back in the day leaves him more than a little upset too, and I have to say that I agree with him.

We have gathered (some 100 or so guests) in the slightly incongruous surroundings of the marble ballroom at London’s Waldorf Hotel, to witness the second London Awards ceremony, an event umbilically linked to the London Festival Fringe, in which Greg Tallent plays a leading role.

It’s incongruous because this is a fringe night (or used to be – the event seems to have moved on!) and the guests wouldn’t be out of place at Glastonbury, while the surroundings here are rather more like the Royal Opera. It’s incongrous too, because there is some lovely entertainment – cabaret with Lily Lowe Myers and Robyn Cooper, followed by music with Millie Moonstone, as well as a finale of operatic splendour from Stephen A Brown and Ezra Williams – and the acoustics here (as one might expect from a room lined with marble and mirrors) are such that it really is difficult to hear. But then maybe that’s just me being an old git.

The awards are introduced by Derval Mellett and they are a mixed bag too.

The poetry award for example, goes to Michael Longley. Not that it isn’t well deserved – Michael Longley has been writing and winning awards throughout the decades (and I suppose I have to own too, that his wife, the redoubtable Edna, used to try to teach me English somewhere around the time of the Flood). It’s the fact that he could hardly be called ‘fringe’ that is a little strange. (You could argue the same about BalletBoyz, who won the Dance award, but there…) But see the comment from Greg, which is attached – its wider than ‘fringe’ these days.

For the record, the full list of winners is as follows:-

London Art Award 2011 Winner
Douglas Gordon

London Best Play Award 2011 Winner
Precious Little Talent

London Book Award 2011 Winner
Stuart Evers “Ten Stories About Smoking”

London Comedy Award 2011 Winner
Zoe Lyons

London Dance Award 2011 Winner

London Film Award 2011 Winner
Submarine Dir: Richard Ayoade

London Jazz Award 2011 Winner
Julian Siegel

London Music Award 2011 Winner
Wild Beasts

London Photography Award 2011 Winner
Nadav Kander

London Poetry Award 2011 Winner
Michael Longley

I have to report too, that the lovely Alwyn Marriage (poet, lecturer, writer and judge on the poetry award, as well as the driving force behind Oversteps Books) is of the view that there has never been a better time to be a poet in the UK, such is its growing popularity. So there. And you’ll probably be wanting to buy a volume or two from Oversteps to see just what you’re missing. If you do, just click here: www.overstepsbooks.com

Finally, a note to the National Theatre (the great and good of which usually hang on my every word): Ken is ready whenever the offer comes, though he plans to shake up any potential audience more than a little. Be warned.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

(c) Brent Crude 2011

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