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Theatre school founder among recipients of special Olivier award

Clockwise from top left: Bob King, Gloria Louis, Lisa Burger, Sylvia Young and Lady Susie Sainsbury
Clockwise from top left: Bob King, Gloria Louis, Lisa Burger, Sylvia Young and Lady Susie Sainsbury

Theatre school founder Sylvia Young and the National Theatre’s executive director are among the recipients of the Special Recognition Olivier Award for 2022.

Established in 1976, the awards celebrate those involved in the capital’s theatre and are regarded as Britain’s most prestigious stage honours.

This year, five people will get the special recognition award, which celebrates individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the industry.

Executive director and joint chief executive of the National Theatre, Lisa Burger, has been honoured for her role in expanding the theatre’s reach, forging partnerships UK-wide, and playing a key part in the industry’s pandemic recovery through initiatives such as NT At Home.

Ms Young has received the award for giving countless students the opportunity to study performing arts and go on to have successful careers in theatre, film and TV since she started teaching in 1972.

She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2005 for her services to the arts.

Sylvia Young Theatre School alumni include Amy Winehouse, Keeley Hawes and Rita Ora.

Chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and executive producer of the Olivier Awards, Julian Bird, said: “The Special Recognition Olivier Awards shine a spotlight on inspirational individuals doing vital work, often behind the scenes, who have been a force for good and helped shape our industry in a wide range of ways.

“The five people we are honouring this year have all inspired generations of colleagues and theatre audiences, been pioneers in their fields and are hugely deserving of this long-due recognition.

“It is a privilege to celebrate their achievements as part of this year’s Olivier Awards.”

Theatre school founder Sylvia Young is among the recipients of the Special Recognition Olivier Award (Danny Kaan/Olivier Awards/PA)

Also recognised is founder of the Backstage Trust, Lady Susie Sainsbury, whose long-time philanthropy and support of the arts has made a significant difference to theatre in London and beyond.

She founded the trust to fund live arts projects and was also a key figure in the creation of the Theatre Artists Fund during the pandemic.

Designer Bob King has received the award for creating some of the most recognisable visuals for hit shows in the West End over the course of his 40-year career – including the artwork for Oliver!, Back To The Future, Frozen, Mary Poppins and Tina – The Tina Turner Musical.

The final recipient is Gloria Louis, who began her career working front of house at the Strand Theatre (now the Novello), before progressing into theatre management and her current role as inclusion and diversity boss at Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, where she uses her knowledge and passion to inspire young people from all backgrounds to consider careers in theatre.

The Olivier Awards will take place on April 10 at the Royal Albert Hall and will be hosted by comedian Jason Manford.

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