PlayShakespeare.com is pleased to announce the nominees and winners for the annual Falstaff Awards for 2016. With PlayShakespeare.com’s international reach, reviewers worldwide have come together to honor the best in Shakespeare for the year of 2016. The Falstaff Awards recognize extraordinary achievement in the areas of Best Play, Best Director, Best Principal Actor or Actress, among other performance and technical categories.
The year 2016 celebrated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with special events all over the globe. One of the highlights was the three-part miniseries The Hollow Crown: Wars of the Roses, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Sophie Okonedo, Judi Dench and many others. It is the Falstaff Award winner for Best Film.
The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival took home the Best Play award for their outstanding production of As You Like It. Julia Coffey was nominated for Best Principal Actress for her portrayal of Rosalind in that production and Gaye Taylor Upchurch was nominated in the Best Director category for her amazing work.
Continuing their excellence and recognition from last year’s awards, the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s production of Romeo & Juliet received nominations for Derek Jacobi’s turn as Mercutio, Lily James as Juliet, and a Best Supporting Actress win for Meera Syal as the Nurse.
Eleven nominations, the highest number for any theatre this year, went to the Royal Shakespeare Company for their productions of The Tempest (5), King Lear (3), and Hamlet (3). Veteran Shakespearean Antony Sher won the Best Principal Actor award for his portrayal of King Lear and Paapa Essiedu won for his portrayal as Edmund in the same production.
The production tying with the RSC’s Tempest for the most nominations was Richard II at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. With five nominations, including Christopher Liam Moore in the title role, it won the Falstaff Award for Best Lighting Design (Christopher Akerlind).
The gender-bending highlight of the year was Michelle Terry’s performance as Hal in Henry V at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. This strong portrayal of a young prince coming of age by a powerful actress won her the Falstaff Award for Best Principal Actress. The production also won the award for Best Choreography or Fight Direction (Kate Waters).
Proving that Shakespeare is meant for modern audiences, the Shotgun Players in Berkeley developed an original version of Hamlet where actors played “role roulette” and chose the part they’d play that evening only minutes before the curtain rose. With elaborate fight choreography and modern dress, the show was a 2 1/2 hour tightrope walk for the actors every night.
Of note the Lear Award for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to Simon Russell Beale, who was also nominated for his portrayal of Prospero in the RSC’s Tempest. Beale had returned after a 22-year hiatus from the RSC to perform Prospero, having performed the title roles in Timon of Athens and King Lear, both at the National Theatre. In 2013, he won a BAFTA award for his excellent performance of Falstaff in The Hollow Crown series.
“The global celebrations of the 400th anniversary of his death showed how much the world is still in love with William Shakespeare,” said Ron Severdia, Founder of PlayShakespeare.com and creator the Shakespeare Pro app. “Though there may be challenging times ahead, the artistic community should keep the momentum and focus their creativity on effecting positive change in the world. Shakespeare wrote ‘Action is eloquence.’ and it truly is.”
The complete list of nominees and winners can be found at: