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THIS IS the time of year when the Irish Times announces the various luvvies who have been shortlisted for the annual IT Theatre Awards. That familiar script has been binned, however, and there is still no sign of the 2023 awards, nine months after the paper ended up on the wrong end of a diversity debate. Tut, tut.

The row kicked off at the start of last year when the 2022 shortlist for the IT Theatre Awards was announced and the judges were dragged into the culture wars. Quite the storm blew up following the shortlisting of two white actors (Rory Nolan and Maeve O’Donovan) from the predominantly black cast of An Octoroon, the Abbey Theatre’s “radical reboot” of Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon. The Abbey then claimed that there had already been “discussions around omissions in general and race representation in particular”.

For its part, the red-faced IT management said the paper was “committed to reflecting diversity by constantly reviewing its selection processes and policies”. Hardly a vote of confidence in judges Gerry Godley, Nicky Greene and Lorelei Harris. Culture editor Hugh Linehan then made it clear the IT “takes the issues of diversity and representation which have been raised very seriously” and the 2023 judging process was immediately “paused”.

There has been silence from Tara Street about when the curtain will be raised and Goldhawk’s questions to Linehan and editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic went unanswered.

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