The Playgoer: One Way Around Development Hell

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Monday, March 22, 2010

One Way Around Development Hell

The Olivier Awards--London's Tonys--were last night, and Best New Play was The Mountaintop, by Katori Hall, a young American playwright.

Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, which premiered at a 65-seat south London pub theatre, has pulled off a huge shock at this year’s Olivier Awards, beating both Jerusalem and Enron to the Best New Play Award. The victory, which marks the biggest upset of recent years at the Oliviers, is even more remarkable because the play was only eligible for the prize thanks to its transfer from Theatre503 to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios 1, where it ran for nine weeks. It was 28-year old Hall’s second play and marks the first time a black female playwright has ever won an Olivier.
Having popular 65-seat pub theatres also helps.

Let the exodus begin!

PS. A good night for American shows: Spring Awakening won Best Musical.  All about the Larry's here.


matt said...

Playgoer - is this rare, that an American play in London gets so popular without a premiere in the States, or did it have one here?

Playgoer said...

The London production of "Mountaintop" was indeed the world premiere. Is it rare? Not unheard of; Christopher Shinn, for instance, has had his last two plays premiere in London before they opened here. Naomi Wallace and Phyllis Nagy are two American playwrights who I believe were really "discovered" first there before here. Going back further, Richard Nelson got his big career boost there as well.

So maybe not rare, but it's been a while.