In Front of Morley's Jury
At the time of writing, the jury is struggling to decide on the winner of the sixth annual Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography. My Playbill colleague Mark Shenton is on the jury this year, along with actor — and 2011 shortlisted author — Isla Blair and theatre director Braham Murray. As non-voting chair of the jury, I'm delighted with this year's shortlist because it encompasses all that's best about theatre writing.
The prize is given for the best biography, autobiography, or theatre diary published in English during the preceding calendar year, and this shortlist is, I think, the best ever. However can the jury choose between the brilliant and hilarious memoir by Rupert Everett, "Vanishing Years"; Sue Prideaux's widely researched and meticulous "Strindberg, A Life"; and Simon Callow's "Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World"? (Read the Playbill story about which author won the prize here.)
And that's not all. I loved actor Michael Pennington's one-man show where he simply stood onstage in an old sweater and talked about Shakespeare. Now he's put it between hard covers as "Sweet William," and it's a joy to read. Arthur Laurents, the difficult but great Broadway producer and director died in 2011, but not before completing "The Rest of the Story," the second part of his autobiography in which he is wonderfully nasty about everybody. That is on the shortlist alongside Kate Bassett's portrait of Jonathan Miller, "In Two Minds." What a list. Next month, I'll report in on the award ceremony at London's Garrick Club, the home of 18th-century actor David Garrick.
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