Friday, February 27, 2009

Irish Theatre Awards : Making a Mark

Sunday night saw Ireland's luvvies flock to The Burlo for the presentation of this year's Irish Times Theatre Awards. Seems to have been a swell occasion, with a special tribute award for Lynne Parker, artistic director of Rough Magic Theatre Company.

The Best Actress award was presented to Deirbhle Crotty, for her role as Masha in the Friel version of Chekhov's Three Sisters. You can read my review of that production here. I've seen Crotty a few times now, and she's (ahem) a class act. Depending on the material, she can bring an old-school showbiz sass to bear, while mining the emotional centre of her character. And she entertains; a great, expressive dry humour to her - even in darker outposts (think Rosaleen Linehan channeling Dorothy Parker). Crotty is currently appearing in Marble at the Abbey (see below). So, git yerself along to that lovely venue and catch the award-winner herself in full effect.

Best Actor went to Tom Vaughan Lawler, for his remarkable turn in The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, also at the Abbey. You can read my thoughts on that absolutely rivetting performance here.

Now, here's a little bit of trivia for you. You see that nice logo up there - emoting actor centre stage, elated shadow on the backdrop? Guess who designed that particular item, over twelve (if not more!) years ago? Yes, I'm happy to reveal that it was me! Not long after I'd plunged into my career as freelance graphic designer, I was briefed by (now-defunct?) marketing agency Dimension to create a 'figurative logo' for a newly planned theatre awards ceremony. It needed to be figurative so that a statuette could be developed. I did concept visuals for those too - but the final stauette design went a different way. At that time, the awards were to be sponsored by both The Irish Times and the ESB - meaning my beautifully conceived concept ended up with both those logos plonked on it - as well as a durrty great keyline box all round. Thankfully, a single sponsor now means some of the cleanliness has returned to the identity.

Having designed it on classic principles, with a long life in mind, I've enjoyed seeing the thing become a bit of an icon down the years. I hope it continues on as such - yet realise that one of these days it may well end up sacrificed, for a 'trendy' upgrade.

The illustration itself was created in brush and ink, then treated to a rigorous bout of 'moving-it-about-on-the-photocopier' - an earlier form of 'digital manipulation' - to create that pulled, distressed effect. I made oodles of these distorted copies, then cut and pasted the best bits back into a cohesive whole, scanning it into my trusty Power Mac 7500 for clean-up. Looking back now, I can see how influenced I was by the sculpture of Edward Delaney - particularly his famine piece in Stephen's Green.

The typography is a tweaked version of capitalis monumentalis letterforms, or Roman square capitals, as used for the inscription at the base of Trajan's Column from which the typeface - Trajan - takes its name.

Anyway, congratulation to all the winners - full list here - and best of luck to those who weren't successful this time. Hopefully, twelve months from now you'll be standing up there, along with my design work.