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Clarence Derwent Awards Announced

29 January 2018

The Clarence Derwent awards have been presented and this year things were a little different.

It is 70 years since the first awards were presented in London.  Established by English actor Clarence Derwent who was successful both here and in the USA where he became President of the American Actors Association.  He first establised the awards  on Broadway and then provided the funds for awards for the best individual male and female performances in a supporting role on a London stage.  He asked Equity to administer the awards and they have been doing so since 1948

For the first time in the awards’ history two years have been presented at the same ceremony.  The awards recognise work from the preceding year and so the winners are for performances in 2016 and 2017.

Equity General Secretary, Christine Payne gave out the awards in front of a crowd of previous winners and guests.

Clarence Derwent Winners 2017

Jonjo O'Neill, Sheila Atim, Christine Payne, Kate O'Flynn, Peter Polycarpou (photo Mark Thomas)

Sheila Atim was recognised for two roles in 2016  - as The Woman in the National Theatre production of Les Blancs and as Ferdinand in Phyllida LLoyd's all-female Tempest.  Jonjo O'Neil received the award also for two 2016 performances.  Firstly as Posthumus in Cymbeline at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and secondly for the Brute in Unreachable, at the Royal Court.

The 2017 awards went to Kate O’Flynn for her portrayal of Laura in The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s and to Peter Polycarpou for his performance as Ahmed Qurie in Oslo which began at the National Theatre and then moved to the West End.

The awards ceremony involves many previous winners and include some of the most admired actors in British theatre– including familiar names such as Dame Judi Dench, Sheila Hancock, Imelda Staunton, Sir Ian McKellen, Timothy West, Roger Allam, and many other actors whose contributions and talent are most highly prized by their peers.

The judges were Richard Digby Day, Thelma Holt, Kate Bassett, Matt Trueman Susannah Clapp and Equity President Malcolm Sinclair.  Jonathan Munby will be joining the panel this year.  The full list of all winners since 1948 is here

The Awards were presented on Monday 29th January at the Library Club, St Martin's Lane, London.  It is also the occasion when Equity presents its student and young member bursaries. The four bursaries, each of £500, were created as part of the union’s 75th anniversary year (2005) celebration and are funded from donations from Equity life members.

The bursaries were presented by Equity’s Young Members’ Councillor, actress Abiola Ogunbiyi

The student bursaries went to Sophie Harris from MGA Academy in Edinburgh and David Perkins  from  Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

The young member bursaries were presented to Tessa Carmody and Sam Elwin.  Sam wanted the money for a stage combat course and riding lessons while Tessa plans to work with singing coach Maureen Scott.


Clarence Derwent Student & Young Winners 2017

Abiola Ogunbiyi, Tessa Carmody, Sophie Harris, Christine Payne, Sam Elwin, David Perkins  (photo Mark Thomas)


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