With the Olivier Awards 2018 this evening, theatre editor Daniel Perks looks back at some of the Off West End Awards winners for 2018.

The weekend of the Olivier Awards 2018 is upon us – the best and brightest of the West End and its affiliate theatres will descend on the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the last 12 months of theatrical talent and tenacity. But only five weeks ago, another award ceremony was held. It’s one that Miro Magazine are proud to have covered, one that fits much closer with our ethos of championing the emerging creative. These were the Off West End Awards 2018, or the Offies.

The Albany played home to this year’s ceremony, now in its seventh year. 91 nominees resulted in 26 awards across the spectrum – plays, musicals and young people’s theatre; directors, actors, playwrights and designers. Here at Miro, on the weekend that celebrates UK commercial theatre at its brightest, we wanted to shine the spotlight back on a selection of the winners from the fringe theatre scene.

Off West End Offies 2018

Next up is the winner of the Best New Play AwardThe Revlon Girl at Park Theatre. I caught up with director Maxine Evans to chat about the awards, the story and how it felt to be both an Offies 2018 winner and an Olivier Award nominee:

The Revlon Girl Park Theatre

Maxine Evans

How does it feel to be an Off West End winner?

“Incredible. The Offies was a huge relief – it felt like validation, like we weren’t on our own. I have a real love-hate relationship with awards, I always feel for the people that don’t win. Best New Play was the third category to be announced of the ones we were nominated in – we’d lost Best Actress and Best Production. With An Octoroon also nominated, we thought we didn’t stand a chance. An Off West End award acknowledges the strength of the piece regardless of the subject matter.

If you find the truth in any story about any people, it will resonate with us all.

Tell me about your experience of working on The Revlon Girl.

“Neil [Anthony Docking] researched the subject matter for seventeen years, so when he wrote The Revlon Girl, he had a plan in his head that each of the women would represent various people that he’d read about as well as taking on the mantle of the bigger political ideas. We knew exactly which actors we wanted to play these parts and I got their agreement while we were writing.

“When we did the play, touring it in Wales for the 50th anniversary for the Aberfan disaster was terrifying. No matter where else we took it, when telling a story back to those people involved, their validation, acceptance, acknowledgement that you have done it justice, is the most important thing. By taking it to Edinburgh and seeing the response there, we started to realise that this will speak to much more than a Welsh audience. Then bringing it to the Park Theatre, we were excited at the prospect – once we’d seen the international audience at Edinburgh, it gave us the courage to bring it here.

The Revlon Girl Park Theatre

The Revlon Girl

“There’s room for everything in theatre. My sadness with theatre today is that I think that the balance has negatively shifted – there is more spectacle and sensationalism than there is storytelling. But it’s the oldest form of communication and nowadays more important than ever. In a world of social media, where everything happens so quickly, to be able to sit with an audience and follow a story through, watching how those characters truthfully unfold, teaches us something about ourselves. For the last ten years, I’ve been saying to people who want to write to do it for theatre first. It allows you time to develop your voice, your relationship with an audience that you can’t see on screen.”

Off West End Offies 2018

How does the theatrical scene compare between shows eligible for Offies Awards and those eligible for Olivier Awards? As someone who has won in one category and is nominated in another, I’m sure you’ve got a pretty unique perspective on the two!

“I feel much more comfortable with the Off West End awards – championing the underdog, a group of people who know the injustices and disparities between budgets within the industry. Talent is talent, so if we can shine a light on this amazing piece of theatre and bring audiences to it, that’s the whole point. Tourists come to London and do the West End list, but good stuff can happen anywhere and that to me is exciting. Neil and I felt privileged, honoured and among equals with the Off West End awards.

The Revlon Girl Park Theatre

The Revlon Girl

“To be nominated for the Olivier Awards felt unreal – we were Off West End, so how did we qualify for that? I went into denial for a while, but then it starts to dawn on you. You look at the other nominees and you know all of those people – nobody’s going to know who we are! It’s extraordinary and terrifying that with great power comes great responsibility.

“The terrifying thing about the Olivier Awards is that, whether we win or not, the nominations seem to be such a huge thing. There is now the sense of how we keep the wolves at bay – we don’t want people to take the show off us. People have come to us and wanted to make The Revlon Girl into a feature film, which is incredible exciting, but if it’s not made right then we would rather it wasn’t made at all because of the subject matter.

 

 

The Off West End Awards 2018 were held on 4 March 2018. For more information about the ceremony or the company, visit the website.

For more information about Maxine Evans and The Revlon Girl, visit the Park Theatre website.