Chair: Henry Hitchings
Hon. Secretary: Natasha Tripney
Contact for matters about the Drama section: natasha@thestage.co.uk 

The founder members of the Circle were mostly drama critics who believed, being on the whole freelancers, that in unity lay strength. In 1913 they decided, under the auspices of the Institute of Journalists, to set up this organisation. SR Littlewood (Daily Chronicle), JT Grein (who first brought Ibsen’s Ghosts to London in 1891) and John Parker (the 1913 editor of Who’s Who in the Theatre) arranged the first general meeting in the Hall of the Institute of Journalists. On that occasion Grein took to the stage and said, “Well, gentlemen, here we are! Let us do something. I propose that we begin by electing William Archer to the chair.” Archer, who translated the plays of Ibsen, was a leading critic of the day, and duly became Chair (with Littlewood as Honorary Secretary). He was succeeded in 1925 by Parker, who remained in office until his death in 1952. Their very first business concerned something which still matters today: the problems of getting review tickets from promoters.

Drama critics who have been President of the Critics’ Circle include St John Ervine (1929), Ivor Brown (1934), James Agate (1938), Sir Harold Hobson (1955), Philip Hope-Wallace (1958), JC Trewin (1964), Jack Tinker (1992-94), Jane Edwardes (2000-2002), Charles Spencer (2008-10) and Mark Shenton (2018-).

The section’s Theatre Awards were set up in 1989, after much debate about whether critics should make awards. That debate is over and now all sections do so; the Circle as a whole presents an annual award for Services to the Arts in Britain.

Since 1996 the Theatre Awards have included the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Tinker was a much-loved critic for the Daily Mail. In 2001 a new award was instituted in memory of the husband and wife critical partnership of John and Wendy Trewin. This took the form of a medal for the Best Shakespearean Performance of the year. In 2016, after the death of their son Ion Trewin, it was renamed the Trewin Medal. In 2016, the award for best new or revived musical was renamed the Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical, in honour of the late Peter Hepple’s outstanding contribution to the Critics’ Circle, of which he was Hon. Gen. Secretary for many years.

The section is also affiliated to the International Association of Theatre Critics, a body with similar aims on an international scale. The IATC holds a congress every two years. Details of IATC aims and activities can be found at www.aict-iatc.org


News & Reviews

Services to the Arts

Recipients of the Critics' Circle Annual Award 1988 – Sir Peter Hall 1989 – Dame Ninette de Valois 1990 – Sir Michael Tippett 1991 – Sir David Lean 1992 – Sir John Mills 1993 – Sir Peter Ustinov 1994 – Sir John Drummond 1995 – Sir Peter Wright 1996 – Richard Eyre 1997...

read more

King’s Head Theatre to Move

The end of an era, start of a new venture The grand daddy of pub theatres, The King's Head Theatre in Islington opened in 1970 by Dan Crawford and home to a legion of stars to be and stars, as well as some memorable productions, is to moved in 2018 to brand new...

read more

The Vagabond Lover

Willam Russell Garry O'Connor's The Vagabond Lover to be published on 24 April by CentreHouse Press, pirce £20, is a memoir about his relationship with his famous father Cavan O'Connor, the broadcasting and variety star. Garry O'Conner who has been a drama ctritic for...

read more