Who we are,
why we are
On 20 December 2005 nominations were publicly announced for the inaugural Sydney Theatre Awards. These awards 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, in A-Z order: 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 more and more apparent to members of the group that the lack of public recognition – awards – in Sydney for the city’s theatre practitioners was wrong and had to be addressed.
It had been more than 10 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 low-key ceremony at the Statement Bar, beneath the State Theatre, on Monday January 16. 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/delivered by Suzi Whitehead-Pope. Ian Phipps coordinated the organisation of the event and all the reviewers helped out.
The first media release (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.” And Diana Simmonds: “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 were, in order of appearance: 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 in order of appearance were: Debra Oswald, Mark Kilmurry, Penny Cook, Genevieve Lemon, Rodney Fisher, Cate Blanchett and Julie Hamilton.