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The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968 Wins Theatre Book Prize

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 25th Apr 2016 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin

The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968 by Steve Nicholson(University of Exeter Press).jpg

Last year’s best book about British theatre, according to the judges of this year’s Theatre Book Prize, was a fascinating study based on the files from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office now held in the British Library.

At a gathering of people from theatre and the book world on April 22nd, held in the historic rooms of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, distinguished actress Dame Siân Phillips presented the prize to Steve Nicholson for The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968 (University of Exeter Press), a story conflict and connivance involving Royal officialdom, theatre managers and some of the key dramatists of the twentieth century. Critics have described it as “forensic and fascinating” and called Nicholson “a scholar who writes with lucidity, wit, humane intelligence and grace of mind. There is no jargon in his pages, but much glorious hilarity.”

L to R Judges Sam Walters, Sarah Hemming, Colin Chambers, winner Steve Nicholson, Dame Siân Phillips, STR Chairman Michael Gaunt

Sam Walters, Sarah Hemming, Colin Chambers, Steve Nicholson, Dame Siân Philips, Michael Gaunt, and Howard Loxton - Photograph by Vicki Holland

In remarks by the judges leading up to the presentation Colin Chambers, called it “The final volume of a terrific and important series in which Nicholson delivers his original research into the practice of theatre with characteristic enthusiasm. His detailed account of how theatre and the society it reflects interact is seen through the prism of censorship.”

Author Nicholson, who is Professor in Twentieth Century and Contemporary Theatre at the University of Sheffield, wins after being short-listed for this prize in previous years. The judges were Sam Walters, theatre director, founder and until recently artistic director of the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. Sarah Hemming, theatre critic for the Financial Times. Colin Chambers, Professor Emeritus Kingston University, formerly Literary Manager at the Royal Shakespeare Company and author among many books of the winner of the first Theatre Book Prize, awarded in 1997 for his The Life of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent. They were chaired by critic Howard Loxton, representing the Society for Theatre Research. 

More information on the Society for Theatre Research here.

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