A mix of industry veterans and rising newcomers have been honoured in the Auckland Theatre Awards.

The toned-down 2018 ceremony, which ditched the traditional Civic Theatre costume party for a Facebook livestream, was by no means a reflection of the quality of Auckland's theatrical outputs this year.

Quite the opposite, the funds will be used to set up the awards as a more sustainable organisation to better accommodate an industry that continues to thrive. For the first time, four shows received an award for Excellence for Overall Production.

Usually only given to three productions, the award organisers say this highlights the strength of the work this year.

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Winners were The Contours of Heaven, a one-woman show performed by The Breaker Upperers' Ana Scotney; Burn Her, the sellout political drama by rising playwright Sam Brooks; Silo Theatre's American import Hir, a blazing dissection of gender; and Tea, the latest creation from writer-director Ahi Karunaharan.

Theatre-maker Nisha Madhan's contributions to Auckland's arts community have earned her a community spirit prize at the city's annual theatre awards.
Theatre-maker Nisha Madhan's contributions to Auckland's arts community have earned her a community spirit prize at the city's annual theatre awards.

Former Shortland Street actress Nisha Madhan claimed the Community Spirit Award as recognition of her mentoring work throughout the community. As well as crafting her own award-winning show at the Fringe Festival, Madhan helped five others develop their own works as well as directing and producing multiple other works throughout the year.

A pair of solo performances claimed the top acting prizes. Leon Wadham earned the male award for his Comedy Festival piece Giddy, while Goretti Chadwick earned the female prize for Auckland Theatre Company's Still Life with Chickens. That play will be performed in Sydney next year.

The cast of The Wizard of Otahuhu won big at this year's Auckland Theatre Awards.
The cast of The Wizard of Otahuhu won big at this year's Auckland Theatre Awards.

The biggest winners were potentially the ensemble cast of The Wizard of Otahuhu, made up of a whopping 50 actors aged between 9 and 30. It shows no matter the audience, the budget or the concept, Auckland theatre is alive and well across all corners of the Super City.

The full list of award winners are:

Outstanding Newcomer Awards
Marianne Infante
Micheal McCabe
Petmal Lam
Emerging company: the Maumahara Girlie team – producer Vanessa Crofskey & director/creator Mya Morrison-Middleton, with Whetu Silver, Freddy Carr, Amanda Tito and Onehou Strickland.

Excellence in Sound Design
Claire Duncan for Medusa

Jacob Dombroski in Big J Stylez, his one-man dance, music and theatre show about growing up in New Zealand.
Jacob Dombroski in Big J Stylez, his one-man dance, music and theatre show about growing up in New Zealand.

Excellence in Impact by a Company
Everybody Cool Lives Here

Excellence in Performance
Leon Wadham for Giddy
Goretti Chadwick for Still Life with Chickens
The Cast of The Wizard of Otahuhu

Excellence in Lighting Design
Rachel Marlow for her body of work in 2018

Miriama McDowell (centre) and Bree Peters in a scene from the award-winning 2018 political drama, Burn Her.
Miriama McDowell (centre) and Bree Peters in a scene from the award-winning 2018 political drama, Burn Her.

Excellence for Overall Production
Burn Her by Smoke Labours Productions
Hir by Silo Theatre
Tea Written & directed by Ahi Karunaharan
The Contours of Heaven by Ana Chaya Scotney, Puti Lancaster, Marama Beamish & Owen McCarthy

Community Spirit Award
Nisha Madhan