The judging is carried out by three panels of industry experts in conjunction with prestigious industry organisations the ALD and the STLD.

Theatre Judges

David Benedict

(Theatre Chair) Critic and Broadcaster

David is a recovering actor and theatre director. He has written about the arts in every major national newspaper except The Telegraph and the Daily Mail, was arts editor of The Observer and appears regularly on BBC Radio arts programmes.

“I look for distinctive, imaginative control; the dramatically expressive delineation or enhancement of the flow, pace, mood, tone and temperature of a piece of theatre.”

Neil Fisher

Deputy Arts Editor, The Times

Neil is the Deputy Arts Editor of The Times and an opera and classical music critic.
He is a regular contributor to Gramophone and Opera, and also appears on BBC television and radio.

“Anything goes in opera, where you can be joining the partygoers in crinolines one moment, and then you’re in a dystopian parking lot, or a space station on the dark side of the Moon. Whether we feel truly transported in these moments really comes down to the lighting design, helping to construct a plausible theatre of the imagination, and one in which the singers, chorus and anyone else on stage is helped to play their part.”

Louise Levene

Dance Critic, Financial Times

Michael Billington

Theatre Critic, The Guardian

Theatre critic of The Guardian since 1971, a frequent broadcaster and author of several books including State of the Nation: British theatre since 1945 and The 101 Greatest Plays (both published by Faber).

“I look for lighting that illuminates the play in every sense, that helps to create a coherent world on stage and that is aesthetically pleasing without being self-advertising.”

Tim Bano

Lead Critic, The Stage

Tim Bano is joint lead critic for The Stage. He has also written for the Guardian and Time Out, and has worked as a producer on BBC Radio 4.

Zoë Anderson

Dance Critic, Dancing Times

Zoë is dance critic of The Independent and the i, and assistant editor of Dancing Times. She is also the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years (Faber and Faber, 2006) and The Ballet Lover’s Companion (Yale University Press, 2015).

“I look for lighting design that shapes space and reveals movement, that creates atmosphere and draws the audience into the work.”

George Hall

Opera Critic

George has been writing about opera and operatic performance for more than 35 years, including for The Guardian, The Stage, Financial Times and Opera Magazine. He is also a long-term member of the UK Theatre Awards opera panel.

“I look for an approach that combines imagination with technical skill and which underpins the entire production in helping to clarify the themes of the piece.”