London's Olivier Awards Are Rethinking Gendered Categories | Playbill

Awards London's Olivier Awards Are Rethinking Gendered Categories

The move comes as many performance awards are under pressure to be more inclusive to trans and non-binary performers.

The Olivier Awards, London's top theatrical honors, are rethinking their gendered categories, according to a report in British publication The Stage.

The move was made public following a column, also in The Stage, from theatre and dance writer Andrzej Lukowski highlighting the lack of categories for non-binary performers, writing that gendered acting categories are "an obvious problem when UK theatre is increasingly awash with high-profile non-binary talent." 

In response, the Society of London Theatre released a statement announcing a commitment to reviewing their categories, telling the publication they would "listen and consult with performers and producers from across the sector before any decision is made..." while affirming that they "want to make the Olivier Awards as inclusive as possible." 

A SoLT representative has since shared with Playbill that this review has been in the works since January.

The news is the latest in a recent campaign for performance awards to be more inclusive to trans and non-binary performers. In New York, the Lucille Lortel Awards (honoring Off-Broadway productions) and the Outer Critics Circle Awards (recognizing Broadway and Off-Broadway) have both dispensed with gender for their acting categories.

Pressure for the Tonys, Broadway's top honors, to make a similar move reached a tipping point recently as non-binary & Juliet star Justin David Sullivan removed themself from Tony Award consideration, citing discomfort with having to choose between the awards' actor and actress categories. In response, the Tonys said in a February 1 statement that they “recognize that the current acting categories are not fully inclusive, and we are currently in discussion about how to best adjust them to address this." The statement goes on to purport that no changes were possible for the current season as Tony guidelines restrict rule changes once the season has already begun. This notion was called into question in the wake of a rule change announced earlier the same day, allowing Tony voters to participate in categories without having seen all nominees.

A timeline for results from the review of the Oliviers has not been provided. The 2023 nominations, announced earlier this week, included the awards' gendered categories. The honors will be handed out April 2 at Royal Albert Hall.

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