1st CONDA Awards – 1979

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Professional categories

Production: Cabaret (Hunter Valley Theatre Company)

Actress in a leading role: Jennifer McGregor, Cabaret

Actor in a leading role: Robert Alexander, Flexitime (HVTC)

Supporting role, male and female: Valerie Bader, Cabaret

Director: Terence Clarke, Flexitime and Jonah (Newcastle University Drama Department)

Non-professional categories

Production: Waiting for Godot (University Drama)

One-act play: The Critic (University Drama)

Actress in a leading role: Nola Wallace, Man of La Mancha (Novocastrian Productions)

Actor in a leading role: Stephen Abbott, Waiting for Godot, and Jonathan Biggins, The Critic, tie

Supporting role, male and female: Marcus Williams, Waiting for Godot

Director: Robert Page, Waiting for Godot

Special award Rita Keevers for a consistent high standard of set design in non-professional productions at Newcastle Repertory Club

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* Held at the Civic Theatre, honoring theatrical work presented in 1979. 37 productions were eligible. The awards were presented during the first-half hour of a Civic Theatre golden jubilee concert on Friday, December 7.

* The Civic Theatre was 50 years old in 1979 and Newcastle City Council was looking for a way of celebrating the event on an on-going basis. A senior council officer who was a keen theatregoer suggested theatre awards.

* Hunter Valley Theatre Company, the region’s first professional theatre company, staged its initial shows in 1976. While HVTC sat out 1978 because of financial problems, it was in action again at the start of 1979 and for its second production of the year, the musical Cabaret, it moved into a new theatre, the Civic Playhouse.

* Newcastle had four theatre critics at that time – Marjorie Biggins (ABC Radio), John Harris (The Newcastle Sun), Ken Longworth (The Newcastle Herald) and Lucy Wagner (NBN Television) – and all agreed to judge the awards.

* The council was vague about what it wanted, except to stipulate that professional and non-professional theatre work alike should be recognised.

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