ABERGAVENNY’S finest amateur performers were recognised at a glittering awards ceremony held at the town’s Angel Hotel on Saturday night.
Organised by A4B the Borough Theatre based committee promoting and supporting the amateur theatre community, the awards are designed to highlight the very best in performances staged by companies based at the theatre - AAODS and AAODS Juniors, ALOC, Abergavenny Pantomime Company, Abergavenny Theatre Group, Breakthrough Productions and VIG.
This year’s judging panel once again praised the high standard of performance and said they had seen some exceptional performances during their year of judging.
The evening also Abergavenny Rotary Club presented with the committee’s Offstage award, which recognises ‘behind the scenes’ contribution to the theatrical community.
The award was presented to Rotary president Patrick Foy by A4B chairman Liz Davies, who described the organisation as ‘unstinting’ in its support for not only the Borough Theatre and its companies but for Abergavenny as a whole.
“There can be very few groups or organisation in the town which don’t benefit from Abergavenny Rotary Club’s generosity or support, from the students at King Henry VIII to the groups helped by funds from the annual Steam Rally,” said Liz.
“This award scheme would certainly not have got off the ground, or become so successful without the help of Rotary, who over the years have been one of our biggest sponsors,” she added.
The evening also saw the presentation of the Bernard Zavishlock award for outstanding contribution to amateur theatre, fondly known as ‘The Bernie’ to theatre stalwart Barrie Jackson.
Presenting the award Sarah Fowler of A4B paid tribute to Mr Jackson’s work on and off stage during the 30 years since he first moved to the Abergavenny area.
A well known figure at the theatre, Mr Jackson said he had never known a town to be as welcoming or as special as Abergavenny.
Top prize of the evening - the Abergavenny Town Council award for Production of the Year, went to AAODS’ Sister Act, which also picked up individual acting awards for its lead Alys Le Moignan and support Cecilia Bawler, with ‘hip-hopping nun’ Jill Murray claiming the Judges’ Award for her show stopping performance.
Speaking at the event Abergavenny Mayor, Councillor Woodhouse said the Borough Theatre truly was a facility with something for everyone and paid tribute to A4B for its support for the community users and the encouragement it gives to young performers.
Earlier in the evening A4B chairman Liz Davies had spoken about the challenges facing the Borough Theatre in the coming year and called on the community to keep supporting it.
“Lyn Gardner writing in the Guardian just last week was encouraging theatres in the light of funding cuts and the uncertainty of their future to ask themselves some big questions about how they can make themselves truly valued and considered essential by becoming fully embedded in the local community and building deep rooted relationships which she concludes will help ensure a theatre’s survival far better than turning a fast buck.
“I feel maybe she would be heartened by being here tonight and seeing just how firmly embedded in the local community our theatre really is,” said Liz.
“When we set up the A4B awards scheme the aim was not only to reward and encourage performers but to strengthen the theatre community and I’m delighted that we are achieving that because we certainly have a supportive and strong community based around the Borough Theatre…and when I say community I don’t only mean those who perform at the theatre, but those who work there and even more vitally those who volunteer because without that golden triangle of performers, staff and volunteers the theatre really could not exist.
“Now more than ever is a time when this community needs to rally around to once again help ensure the future of the theatre and do whatever it takes to make sure that the generations coming behind us have this most priceless facility to visit and in which to perform….so please shout about the Borough Theatre from the rooftops because it really is something very special
She added, “We’d like to thank all those who have helped make the awards a success this year - our sponsors Abergavenny Town Council, Abergavenny Rotary Club, Ken and Ruth Watkins, The Abergavenny Chronicle and Zenith McGarty, the staff at Angel Hotel and of course of all those who work so hard to make the amateur theatre community in Abergavenny one of the most vibrant of any town.
A4B award winners:
The Abergavenny Rotary Award for best supporting actor (under 25) - Tom Davies (AAODS Juniors - Moby Dick)
The Ruth and Ken Watkins Award for best supporting actress (under 25) - Eleanor James ( ALOC - The Railway Children)
The Ken Williams Memorial Award for best actor (under 25) - Miles Harding (AAODS Juniors - Moby Dick)
The Abergavenny Rotary Award for best actress (under 25) - Alys Le Moignan (AAODS - Sister Act)
The Abergavenny Rotary Award for best supporting actress - Cecilia Bawler (AAODS - Sister Act)
The Abergavenny Chronicle Award for best supporting actor - Andrew Fowler (VIG - Into the Woods)
The Zenith McGarty Award for best actress - Cecilia Bawler (BTP - Davy J and the BadBoyz)
The Abergavenny Rotary Club Award for best actor - Andrew Fowler (BTP - Davy J and the BadBoyz)
The Offstage Award - Abergavenny Rotary Club
The Judges Award - Jill Murray (AAODS - Sister Act)
The Bernard Zavishlock Award for Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Theatre - Barrie Jackson
The Abergavenny Town Council Award for Best Production - Sister Act (AAODS)