The Awards

Here we see a wonderful video of how a Conda trophy is made.


The CONDAs (or The City of Newcastle Drama Awards) is the organization behind Newcastle’s most prestigeous theatre industry honor. The CONDAs encourage excellence in theatre making through a range of awards categories. While the CONDA award trophy itself – a symbol recognisable within the region – acknowledges the very highest level of achievement, every form of CONDA recognition, be it a certificate, plaque, scholarship or other form of trophy, carries significance and a great deal of conversation with it among the theatre community.

And the CONDA Goes To…

Each December, the theatre community from around the region turn their attention to the City of Newcastle Drama Awards. Interest and anticipation builds to a fevered pitch leading up to the CONDA ceremony, when hundreds of theatre lovers buy tickets to the glamorous ceremony and learn who will receive the highest honors in theatre making for that year.

The CONDAs reward the previous year’s most outstanding theatre achievements as determined by the CONDA Judging panel made up of the region’s most accomplished theatrical artists and professionals. The Judges maintain absolute secrecy until the moment the show’s presenters open the envelopes and reveal the winners live on stage.

Awards are presented for an outstanding individual or collective efforts in up to 25 categories. The Judging panel select winners from as many as ten nominees in each category, which are also determined by the CONDA Judging panel.


The CONDA Trophy

A senior Newcastle City Council officer, who was a keen theatregoer, had proposed the awards as a way of promoting theatre in the city. He suggested the name City of Newcastle Drama Awards because its acronym, CONDA, sounded like the name of the soaring bird, the condor. In line with that name, the Leonora Glassworks at Wallsend came up with a trophy that set a pair of glass wings in a golden metal base. The trophy design changed slightly in the mid-1980s when glass artist Julio Santos began making the awards after Leonora Glassworks closed. The wings, originally in a wide flying form, became more vertical. The change was intended to reduce the risk of breakage of the wings.

Rules and Eligibility

Productions eligible for CONDA consideration include:

1. Productions first staged in Newcastle by Newcastle-based groups (professional  and community theatre).
2. Productions staged in Newcastle for a public season by groups from outside the Newcastle local government boundaries, provided these have substantial Newcastle content.
3. Shows initially staged by Newcastle-based groups at other Hunter venues for reasons including lack of availability of suitable venues in Newcastle. There must be substantial Newcastle content to the productions.
4. A show must have at least one public performance. Shows which only tour schools or play under closed club conditions are ineligible.


Costume Design and Make-up

An original, imaginative and unified costume design that reveals a strong and original concept /vision that enhances and supports the characters and the themes from the play as evident from the directorial vision.
·         Detail and finish in construction and use of materials, colour, line, texture and shape.
·         Clear understanding of the characters/roles in terms of social standing, period and place
·         Suitability to the dramatic and technical needs of the characters/roles.
·         Realisation of and unity with the overall design concept for the show

Lighting and Sound Design

Effective and creative lighting/sound that contributes to and enhances the dramatic impact of the production in terms of style, mood, atmosphere, place, focus and meaning.
·         Lighting/sound that works effectively with the set elements to support and clarify the use of the space and the symbolism inherent in the text.
·         Supports and enhances the colour, texture and shape and meaning of the costumes and other production elements such as projections and use of props.

Set Design

Demonstrates a sophisticated interpretation of the dramatic practicalities and themes of the play in terms of space and meaning.
·         Creates a sense of stage space and atmosphere with effective use of colour, shape, texture and composition.
·         Provides a multifunctional platform for the dramatic themes of the play in a way that is subtle and efficient for all the practical demands of the text without being dominant, intrusive or requiring elaborate changes.
·         Provides a practical realisation of the scenic requirements of the play for both performers and audience in terms of sightlines, entrances and levels.


Communicates a sophisticated and effective directorial concept/vision demonstrating originality, integrity and practicality
·         Integrates key dramatic and theatrical elements to create clear theatrical meaning for the audience.
·         Demonstrates application of insightful research and analysis to the creative ideas of the production.
·         Presents an integrated design appropriate to the vision and intended audience experience.
·         Evidence of highly effective rehearsal techniques.


Demonstrates excellent performance skills appropriate to the style or dramatic form.
·         Vocals – pace, pitch, projection, emphasis, clarity
·         Movement – control, energy, spatial awareness
·         Timing- response to cues, awareness of rhythms
Develops and sustains role and character demonstrating
·         Belief, conviction and energy
·         Complexity and dimension
·         Clarity and focus
·         Interaction with other roles and characters.
Excellent manipulation of performance elements to create a coherent theatrical performance that evokes a strong audience response by
·         Establishing and maintaining a clear intention and appropriate relationship with the audience in the context of the performance space and theatrical form.
·         Showing integrity, originality and clarity in analysis, interpretation and presentation of the role/character.

New Play

Presents an original and innovative script that demonstrates flair, a sustained theatrical vision and clarity of purpose with strong stylistic, structural and thematic elements that effectively engages the target audience.
·         Effectively incorporates subtextual , symbolic and thematic meaning.
·         Creates clearly defined and convincing characters and relationships .
·         Has appropriate and effective visual and/or aural imagery.

Theatrical Event

Creates an engaging and innovative environmental or community theatrical event that may be site-specific. The performance/s may be linked thematically and/or stylistically.
·         There is a clear and interesting through-line of action and/or narrative.
·         Utilises and showcases the performers’ particular skills, talents and expertise in a way that may be unique, unusual and sophisticated.
·         Shows strong artistic integrity and flair in the chosen genre.