brickenen awardA Short History
of the Brickenden Awards

 

Rachel Holden-Jones shortly after receiving the Brickenden for Best Actress at the 2003 ceremonies. The first-ever Brickenden trophy was presented by Dorinda Greenway, Brickenden's daughter.

2002 - The First Year

In the summer of 2002 Christopher Doty, resident critic for the Theatre in London website, had an inspiration. Why not compile a listing of the best shows of the year to serve as a recap for the year in London, Ontario theatre? Jeff Culbert, the site's founder, took matters one step further by turning the idea into a competition where nominees would be posted, followed by an announcement of the winners on New Year's Day.

That December webmaster Sean Wilson created an on-line voting system where the public could vote on Doty's nomination list and create two sets of winners: critic's choice and people's choice. The resulting awards (in name only) would be called The Brickendens after local actress, director and playwright Catharine Brickenden.

The competition attracted marginal attention until Noel Gallagher published an article in the London Free Press on the Brickendens (or The Bricks as they were soon nicknamed). The resulting publicity helped establish the awards as an annual event.

Click here for a listing of the nominees and winners for 2002

2003 - The Second Year

With three new members on the adjudication panel (critic Patricia Black, UWO theatre organizer Maggie Wrobel and London Fringe Festival producer Kathy Navackas), the Brickendens took on a more definite shape. An award was designed, new categories were added and the critic's and people's choices were merged into a single award.

The first official awards ceremony was also organized, hosted by former London actor Paul Soles. Highlights of the evening included an opening address by Brickenden's daughter, Dorinda Greenway, Rachel Holden-Jones' emotional address after being given the evening's first award (for best actress) and Tyler Parr's hysterical acceptance speech by phone after learning he had copped best actor.

Click here for a listing of the nominees and winners for 2003

2004 - The Third Year

For the first time, the voting is broken down into a nomination and winning period in order to give theatre companies a chance to jockey for awards. The adjudication panel is expanded to five members and a new award for theatre promotion, Best Ballyhoo, is introduced. An expanded Brickenden website is also launched.

The second official award ceremony proves to be an unqualified smash, doubling the attendance from the previous year. Caitlin Murphy cleans up with awards for best comedy, original script, production and direction - a feat that leaves even her speechless. Don Fleckser receives a special Curtain Raiser award for over 50 years of service in the theatre - and a written tribute from former protege Victor Garber. Media coverage of the event triples and a documentary crew is on hand to record the festivities.

Click here for a listing of the nominees and winners for 2004