Julie Hesmondhalgh: Actress wins award double for theatre and politics


Julie Hesmondhalgh in WitImage copyright
Jonathan Keenan

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Julie Hesmondhalgh played an American professor with cancer in Wit

TV and stage star Julie Hesmondhalgh has been honoured with two theatre awards – one for her acting and one for running a political theatre company.

The Coronation Street and Broadchurch star was named best actress at the Manchester Theatre Awards for playing a professor with cancer in the drama Wit.

And her theatre collective Take Back Theatre received a special award.

Hesmondhalgh co-founded Take Back Theatre in 2015 “as an artistic response to the politics of austerity”.

It stages performances of short scripts written rapidly in response to current events, with titles like Take Back: America, Take Back: Hope and Ten Takes on Capital.

Take Back Theatre, which she runs with writer Becx Harrison and artist Grant Archer, received the Stage Door award for excellence.

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Richard Davenport

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Daniel Rigby won best actor for playing Alan Turing

Elsewhere in the awards, Bafta winner Daniel Rigby was named best actor for playing Alan Turing in the Breaking the Code.

The wartime drama, which was staged at the Royal Exchange theatre, was also named best production.

The Royal Exchange completed a clean sweep of the main categories, picking up 10 awards in total.

And there was an acting award for Kenneth Branagh’s sister Joyce – who won best fringe performance for Boomtown Gals, about how life changed for women during World War One.

The Manchester Theatre Awards winners in full:

  • Best actress – Julie Hesmondhalgh, Wit, Royal Exchange
  • Best actor – Daniel Rigby, Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange
  • Best production – Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange
  • Best supporting actress – Natalie Dew, Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange
  • Best supporting actor – Daniel Crossley, Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange
  • Best actor in a visiting production – Rufus Hound, The Wind in the Willows, The Lowry
  • Best actress in a visiting production – Aoife Duffin, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, The Lowry
  • Best visiting production – The James Plays, The Lowry
  • Best newcomer – Norah Lopez Holden, Ghosts, Home
  • Best opera – Andrea Chenier, Opera North, The Lowry
  • The Robert Robson Award for best dance – Akram Khan’s Giselle, Palace
  • Best musical –Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange
  • Best fringe production – The Trial, Hope Mill Theatre
  • Best fringe performance – Joyce Branagh, Boomtown Gals, Various venues
  • Best studio production – Wish List, Royal Exchange
  • Best actor in a studio production – Joseph Quinn, Wish List, Royal Exchange Studio
  • Best actress in a studio production – Erin Doherty, Wish List, Royal Exchange Studio
  • Best new play – The Emperor, Home
  • Best design – Singin’ In The Rain, Octagon Theatre
  • Best ensemble – Singin’ In The Rain, Octagon Theatre
  • Best special entertainment – The Peony Pavillion, Lowry
  • Youth panel award – Nothing, The Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company
  • Stage Door Award for excellence – Becx Harrison, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Grant Archer of Take Back Theatre
  • Special achievement award – Joseph Houston and William Whelton of Hope Mill Theatre
  • Special achievement award – Philip Radcliffe, theatre critic

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