Industry News: SOLT releases statement about Olivier Awards gendered categories

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT), the membership organisation for West End Theatres and also the organisers of the annual Olivier Awards, has put out a statement about Olivier Awards gendered categories.

SOLT plans to launch a review of its gendered categories for the awards, as there are currently eight gendered awards categories, covering best actor and actress, plus supporting roles – for both plays and musicals.

Any non-binary performances eligible for this year’s awards, such as Rob Madge, writer and star of My Son’s a Queer (But What Can You Do?), Emma Corrin, who recently completed their run in Orlando at the Garrick Theatre, and Leah Harvey, who starred in As You Like It at @sohoplace, would not currently be able to participate in the awards; or, at least, SOLT has not said how they would be categorised as nominees.

SOLT said in a statement, issued to The Stage industry newspaper (see link below), that it planned to, “listen and consult with performers and producers from across the sector before any decision is made on the categories”.

Co-chief executives of the Society of London Theatre, Claire Walker and Hannah Essex, also said in the joint statement: “We want to make the Olivier Awards as inclusive as possible.This review will consult widely and explore all options and potential implications. This process will be conducted in a considered, evidence-based manner while learning from changes that other award bodies have made.”

The issue was first raised by TimeOut’s theatre critic Andrzej Lukowski, who highlighted that awards that have already changed gendered categories into non-gendered include the BRIT Awards, What’s On Stage Awards, and The Stage Debut Awards.

This isn’t just an issue for the Olivier Awards. Earlier in the month the Tony Awards also came under pressure to explain their policy on gendered awards. That came after Justin David Sullivan, who is starring as May in the Broadway production of & Juliet, and who identifies as trans nonbinary, withdrew their name from consideration.

Sullivan wrote in the New York Times that, “I felt I had no choice but to abstain from being considered for a nomination this season. I hope that award shows across the industry will expand their reach to be able to honor and award people of all gender identities.”

The Tony’s responded, also with a statement in the New York Times, saying: “We recognize that the current acting categories are not fully inclusive, and we are currently in discussion about how to best adjust them to address this. Unfortunately, we are still in process on this and our rules do not allow us to make changes once a season has begun. We are working thoughtfully to ensure that no member of our community feels excluded on the basis of gender identity in future seasons.”

Other New York awards that have already made the leap to non-gendered categories include the Lucille Lortel Awards for Off-Broadway shows, and the Outer Critics Circle Awards.

Nominations for the 2023 Olivier Awards came out this Tuesday, with My Neighbour Totoro scooping the most nominations.

The winners of the Olivier Awards will be announced in a ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall on 2 April 2023, hosted by Hannah Waddingham.

Olivier Awards 2023 – Everything we know so far

The Stage

📷 Main photo: Olivier Awards - Statue

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