And Breathe Dominates Black British Theater Awards | Theater

A solo play on mourning and a contemporary take on a Shakespearean classic topped the Black British Theater Awards, both receiving four accolades.

A Lifetime Achievement Award also went to Derek Griffiths, whose 57-year career spanned Play School in the 1970s until his current appearance in The Mousetrap in the West End.

Derek Griffiths, pictured in 2017, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Photograph: Ian West / PA

His “multidisciplinary genius” and his presence as a man of color on children’s television provided a transformational model, the organizers of the awards said.

Yomi Ṣode’s play And Breathe, which premiered at Almeida in north London earlier this year, won Best Director, Best Production, Best Male Actor and Best Music Director. The play was “expertly performed” by Miranda Cromwell, said the Guardian reviewer, who praised its “sensational staging.”

Miranda Cromwell at the Black British Theater Awards 2020.
Miranda Cromwell at the Black British Theater Awards 2020. Photograph: Kate Green / Getty Images

Its star, David Jonsson, performed a one-hour monologue on the themes of death, love and masculinity. Interacting with him on stage was Femi Temowo, composer and jazz guitarist, whose music “works in tandem with Ṣode’s script, syncopated at times, bringing charm and comedy to others,” the reviewer said.

Last year, Cromwell won Best Director at the Olivier Awards along with his co-director Marianne Elliott for their West End production of Death of a Salesman. Jonsson previously starred in the Industry and Deep State television series.

The awards for Romeo and Juliet at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater went to Isabel Adomakoh Young for Best Female Actor in a Play, Aretha Ayeh for Best Supporting Actress, Andrew French for Best Supporting Actor and Ingrid Mackinnon for best choreographer.

Isabel Adomakoh Young won the award for best female actor in a play for Romeo and Juliet.
Isabel Adomakoh Young won the award for best female actor in a play for Romeo and Juliet. Photography: Jane Hobson

Adomakoh Young describes herself as an actress “with a determination for social change” and a “deeply rooted belief in the ability of art in people’s hands to make a difference.” She played Lady Macbeth at the National Youth Theater and worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court.

Jay Perry, who is currently performing in Hamilton, won the “LGBTQ + Champion” award. Earlier this year he said: “There is a lot of work to be done on issues such as racial and gender equality, trans and non-binary inclusion and greater representation of artists with disabilities… We need to recall our value and our strength as a collective to be defended. a better and more inclusive industry.

The awards were presented by Cynthia Erivo and Danny Sapani at a ceremony in London on Sunday evening.

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