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On 20 December 2005 nominations were announced for the inaugural Sydney Theatre Awards, which came about after months of informal discussion among a group of senior Sydney critics, naming themselves The Sydney Reviewers and meeting by invitation only.

The original reviewers were Stephen Dunne (Sydney Morning Herald), Bryce Hallett (Sydney Morning Herald), John McCallum (The Australian), Colin Rose (Sun-Herald), Diana Simmonds (Sunday Telegraph), John Shand (Sydney Morning Herald) and co-ordinator Ian Phipps (ABC Radio).

During the preceding couple of years, it had become apparent to members of the group that the lack of public recognition and awards in Sydney for the city’s theatre practitioners was wrong and had to be addressed.

It had been more than ten years since the Sydney Theatre Critics Circle was disbanded and the last awards distributed. The new group held an inaugural meeting where it was unanimously decided to attempt an annual awards scheme “to recognise the strength, quality and diversity of theatre in Sydney.”

The 2005 Sydney Theatre Awards were presented at a simple ceremony at the Statement Bar beneath the State Theatre on Monday 16 January 2006. It was free and open to everyone in the Sydney theatre community. Generosity from others was crucial. The State Theatre management donated the venue, the award certificates were inscribed by calligrapher Jo Webb, the gift packs of red and white wine were donated by the Wollombi Valley boutique wineries and organised by Suzi Whitehead-Pope. Ian Phipps produced the organisation of the event with the reviewers helping out.

The media release announcing nominations (from volunteer publicist Merran Doyle) quoted Bryce Hallett, “The Sydney Theatre Awards are a long overdue initiative and a great way to recognise and celebrate the city's outstanding stage talents. The nominations are exciting, strong and diverse. It's a tight field and a good indication of how vibrant, skilful and committed our performers and practitioners are.” Diana Simmonds added, “Looking back over the year was thrilling. From Three Furies at the beginning and Festen at the end with terrific productions of all kinds in between, we have a rich and gutsy theatre community. Public recognition of the people responsible is way overdue.”

The entertainers for the awards, in order of appearance, were Caroline O’Connor, Tony Sheldon and Toni Lamond, and cast members of The Windows Project Lisa Adam, Margi de Ferranti, Benjamin Lewis, Sharon Millerchip and Shaun Rennie.

Guest presenters were Cate Blanchett, Penny Cook, Rodney Fisher, Julie Hamilton, Mark Kilmurry, Genevieve Lemon and Debra Oswald.

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