The author received the prize from actor/playwright/director Steven Berkoff in a ceremony held at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on April 7. Berkoff is currently appearing in his own production of On the Waterfront at the West End's Theatre Royal, Haymarket.
One of the panel of three judges, Professor Katherine Newey, said, "Each of [the judges] recounted how we picked it up, expecting difficult concepts, expressed in the highly technical language of economics and political theory, and with not much to speak to us as working theatre practitioners or scholars, only to find that each of us was gripped by the book. For me, it spoke to so much of what is current in theatre as an industry; and indeed, reinforces what I say as a theatre historian – that the theatre always has been a globalized international industry. Lonergan discusses the ways in which Irish theatre is a textbook example of an apparently unique national culture, marketed internationally. He introduces sophisticated ideas, with clarity and humour, and identifies the ways in which all of think about the global and the local at the same time. I found that the week afer reading this book, I was already quoting his arguments to my theatre students."
The Theatre Book Prize, presented by the Society for Theatre Research, was first awarded for 1997 to celebrate the organization's jubilee. It was created to encourage the writing and publication of books on theatre history and practice, both those that present the theatre of the past and those which record contemporary theatre for the future. It is now presented annually for a book on theatre, which an independent panel of judges considers to be the best published during the year. All new works of original research first published in English are eligible except for play texts and studies of drama as literature.
In addition to the winning entry, this year's shortlist also comprised:
"Verbatim: Techniques in Contemporary Theatre" edited by Will Hammond and Dan Steward (Oberon) In additon to Professor Newey, director of post graduate studies in the department of theatre at the University of Birmingham and the author and editor of books and articles, especially on 19th-century theatre, the judges were Omar Okai, choreographer and director of plays, working across musicals, revue and pantomimes as well as dramatic theatre; and Ian Shuttleworth, theatre critic of the Financial Times and editor of Theatre Record. The panel was chaired by Howard Loxton for the Society for Theatre Research.