2018 Book Prize (for books published in 2017)

Rory Kinnear, who presented the prize with winner Sir Nicholas Hytner (Credit: Ben Wooldridge)

Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre by Nicholas Hytner (Jonathan Cape)


Balancing Acts, Sir Nicholas Hytner’s account of his years at the head of the National Theatre, was announced as the winner of the Society’s annual Theatre Book Prize, chosen from over 60 titles entered by publishers from books published in 2017. The prize was presented by leading NT actor Rory Kinnear (where he was appearing in the Scottish Play) at a gathering in the Grand Saloon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. This year the judges were Jeffrey Richards, Sam Marlowe and Paul Miller.

Neither STR President Timothy West nor our Chairman Simon Sladen were able to attend the ceremony so as Society representative and Chair of the Judges Howard Loxton opened the proceedings by welcoming guests and introducing Rory Kinnear to make the awards to the authors of the six short-listed titles.

After surveying the wide range of books entered for the prize this year (see below) Howard then introduced the judges to speak about the short-listed titles and some others that they found especially interesting, before Rory Kinnear was called back to announce the winner.

On seeing the name but before reading it he described the recipient with warm appreciation and the audience immediately realised who it was – and clearly felt this a worthy winner as Sir Nicholas came up to accept the prize from him.

A few moments earlier judge Paul Miller had described Balancing Acts as “a notably candid book from such a famously private person. It opens with a bravura account, flirting with gossip but keeping this side of naming names, of the life of the Director of the National Theatre …. [It] makes a fantastic case, at once sophisticated and robust for a theatre with a generous popular gesture at its heart: a gloriously fitting coda to 12 years at the National Theatre where he showed us how that’s done.”

Sir Nicholas, surprised and delighted, accepted the award declaring “as well as an opportunity to get off my chest and on to paper all of the stories that have built up over the years, writing this book has also been an experience that has enabled me to think about exactly what I have learned and whom I have learned it from.”


Rory Kinnear and Sir Nicholas Hytner (centre) with the judges, the short listed authors, and some of their publishers. (Credit: Ben Wooldridge)

The other books short-listed were:

Black British Drama: A Transnational Story by Michael Pearce (Routledge)


Child Actors on the London Stage, Circa 1600 by Julie Ackroyd (Sussex Academic Press)


Costume in Performance by Donatella Barbieri (Bloomsbury)


London Theatres by Michael Coveney & Peter Dazeley (Francis Lincoln)


Shakespeare on Stage: Vol 2 ­ Twelve Leading Actors on Twelve Key Roles by Julian Curry (Nick Hern Books)


Also entered for the STR Theatre Book Prize were:

Are You Going to do That Little Jump? by Robert Gillespie (Jane Nightwork)

Authenticity in Contemporary Theatre and Performance by Daniel Schulze (Bloomsbury)

Davis and Penhall’s Sunny Afternoon by John Fleming (Routledge)

Devising Theatre with Stan’s Café by Mark Crosley & James Yarker (Bloomsbury)

Disobedient Theatre by Chris Johnston (Bloomsbury)

Do You Know Who I Am? by Tim Pigott-Smith (Bloomsbury Continuum)

Documenting Performance – The Context and Processes of Digital Curation and Archiving Edited by Toni Sant (Bloomsbury)

Elizabethan and Jacobean Reappropriation in Contemporary British Drama ‘Upstart Crows’  by Graham Saunders (Palgrave)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre (West End Producer, Oberon)

Fenella Fielding: Do You Mind If I Smoke? by Fenella Fielding & Simon McKay (Peter Owen)

For the Love of Dance by Dame Beryl Grey (Oberon)

Get Me the Urgent Biscuits: An Assistant’s Adventures in Theatreland by Sweetpea Slight (Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Orion)

Hamlet, Globe to Globe: Taking Shakespeare to Every Country in the World by Dominic Dromgoole (Canongate)

Hear My Song by Joseph Greenwood (Peter Lang)

Immersive Theatre and Audience Experience Space, Game and Story in the Work of Punchdrunk by Rose Biggin (Palgrave)

Jane Austen and Performance by Marina Cano (Palgrave Macmillan)

Jasmin Vardimon’s Dance Theatre: Movement, memory and metaphor by Libby Worth & Jasmin Vardimon (Routledge)

Man-Monkeys by Alan Stockwell (Vesper Hawk)

Must Close Saturday: The Decline and Fall of the British Musical Flop by Adrian Wright (Boydell)

One thing and Another by Jonathan Miller (Oberon)

Performing Queer Modernism by Penny Farfan (Oxford University Press)

Perspectives on Contemporary Irish Theatre: Populating the Stage Edited by Anne Etienne & Thierry Dubost (Palgrave)

Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater by Matteo A. Pangallo (University of Pennsylvania Press)

Popular Performance Edited by Adam Ainsworth, Oliver Double & Louise Peacock (Bloomsbury)

Roadblocks in Acting  by Rob Roznowski (Palgrave)

Shakespeare and Conceptual Blending – Cognition, Creativity, Criticism by Cleta Booth (Palgrave)

Shakespeare in the Theatre: Mark Rylance at the Globe by Stephen Purcell (Bloomsbury)

Shakespeare in the Theatre: Nicholas Hytner by Abigail Rokison-Woodall (Bloomsbury Arden)

Shakespeare On Stage: Volume 2 – Twelve Leading Actors on Twelve Key Roles by Julian Curry (Nick Hern Books)

Shakespeare, Race and Performance Edited by Delia Jarett-Macauley (Routledge)

Sherlock Holmes from Screen to Stage – Post-Millennial Adaptations in British Theatre by Benjamin Poore (Palgrave)

Social and Political Theatre in 21st-Century Britain – Staging Crisis by Vicky Angelaki (Bloomsbury)

Speak Well of Me by W. Sydney Robinson (Oberon)

Strolling Player (Albert Finney) by Gabriel Hershman (History Press)

The Contemporary Political Play – Rethinking Dramaturgical Structure by Sarah Grochala (Bloomsbury)

The Illegitimate Adventures Of A Theatrical Eccentric by Virginia Russell (Mistry Press)

The Routledge Research Companion to Early Drama and Performance Edited by Pamela King (Routledge)

The Soho Theatre (1968-1981)  by Matthew Morrison (STR)

The Theatre of Anthony Neilson by Trish Reid (Bloomsbury)

The Vagabond Lover  by Garry O’Connor (Centre House Press)

Theater and Cultural Politics for a New World Edited by Chinua Thelwell (Routledge)

Theatre and Governance in Britain 1500-1900  by Tony Fisher (Cambridge University Press)

Tim Crouch’s An Oak Tree by Catherine Love (Routledge)

Tip of the Tongue: Reflections on Language and Meaning by Peter Brook (Nick Hern Books)

Unearthing Shakespeare by Valerie Clayman Pye (Routledge)

Wilkie Collins The Red Vial Edited by Caroline Radcliffe (Francis Boutle Publishers)

William Hutt Soldier Actor by Keith Garebian (Guernica)