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Q&A with Donald D'Haene & Bill Hill - 5th Annual DISH Awards

The DISH Awards celebrates its fifth edition on January 14, 2014 at the London Hilton.

What started out as a one-off whimsy of founder and organizer Donald D'Haene has turned into an annual celebration of local theatre -- and a highly anticipated event on the London arts calendar attended by thousands over the past four years.

The Beat Magazine's Richard Young caught up with Donald and Bill Hill, his co-host for the 5th awards ceremony.

Things have come a long way for the annual DISH Awards since the first event back in January 2010. What are your memories of the first event - good and bad?

Bill: Actually Richard, I’m going to have to say nothing…Donald ran out of people to ask so he asked me again. I told him – only if I get a 50% raise from the last time we did this together. Lucky for him – he agreed.

Just kidding. Lot’s has changed, way more theatre companies, the venue, and, of course, Rogers is covering it. The first year, it was on a much smaller scale.

Donald: My God, Bill, for saying nothing, you’re quite the chatty Cathy! ...The first year was memorable alright. I made the mistake of not trying on my ’70s tux from Collins. I was in such a rush and they’ve had me on file for years but I should have...the pants were 4 sizes too small and I squished and squished into them but couldn’t do up the zipper – all night! That’s why I left my jacket buttoned up! Funny thing is now I am 4 small sizes smaller.

Bill: Get a load of Donald telling me that I talk too much. 

Donald: Typical male – has to have the last word!

Back then, did you think that the Awards would become an anticipated annual event on the London arts calendar?

Donald: NO! The reason I chose such a small venue for the first one (35 dinner seats) was I wasn’t sure if anyone would show up!

Bill: It was a hope, that’s for sure. After the first award ceremony in 2010, we sat at a coffee shop thinking it was a flop. We were surprised at the response, so Donald…he chose someone else to host with him. Nice, eh?

For the first couple of years, the DISH Awards were perceived by some as the noisy, upstart event to the more staid Brickenden Theatre Awards. Is that now behind you? Have the DISH Awards gained "respectability?"

Donald: It was never ahead of me. I ONLY compete with myself – and I have the black eyes to prove it. As for gaining respectability? Hello!...Bill and I are co-hosting...yup the ship has sailed on that one...

Donald, you often say that the DISH Awards are London's Globe Awards. Do you still stand by that?

Donald: Yeah, I love pissing off people who hate when I do Hell to the yes!

Over the years you have experimented with different hosts and formats. What have you learned? What has worked and what hasn't?

Donald: How much space do you have? Suffice to say, I’m still learning...

Bill:  Obviously – I’ve learned nothing – I said yes again.

Bill, what is like to work with Donald on the DISH Awards? Donald, what is it like to work with Bill?

Donald: You better be nice, beotch?

Bill: Donald is a controlling narcissist.  It’s always his way or the highway. To be honest, he’s asked me every year for 5 years to co host and I politely declined. Just kidding. He never asked me every year.

Donald: Relief, you were nice. Bill – he is one of only two people who can get me to giggle uncontrollably – well, besides what I see on stage....

Could you tell our readers about the sponsors/supporters who have come on board with cash prizes for award recipients.

Donald: A truly generous community. Lynn Davis is the donor of a $250 cash prize for Best Script; John Iglesias is donating $250 towards The Pay It Forward Award (To an amateur theatre company that began in 2013 which merits recognition and a little help to jump-start their plans for season 2.).

Jeans ‘n Classics is sponsoring a Best Musical DISH Award cash prize to the Tune of $500 and Jane and Tim Nesseth are sponsoring two cash awards in honour and memory of their vibrant and flamboyant daughter Taylor Nesseth: $200 for Best Drama Queen.

What do you have planned for the 5th Annual DISH Awards on January 14, 2014?

Donald & Bill: That’s a good question...We’ll surprise you!

The DISH Awards have moved a couple of times from the now defunct Maggie's to Aroma Restaurant to the Hilton London. Why the moves? Is the Hilton London your final resting spot?

Donald: Maggie’s was kind enough to take a chance on moi. Aroma was a logical second year choice but right after the event, owner Felipe Gomes told me, “You have a monster event here. You need a bigger venue. I had to turn away 100 dinner reservations!”

Hilton London is a realistic final destination. They’re great to work with and have been so helpful to me! Beyond the call of duty!

Anything else you think needs to be said about the DISH Awards?

Bill: Looking forward to being a part of this celebration, which to me, is what every award ceremony should feel like. The nominees, the winners, the audience members, family members, always have a great time.

Donald: Let’s have a good time Bill, shall we?

Bill: Shut up Donald.

Donald: Told you. Always the last word.

[Photos: Donald D'Haene & Bill Hill by Trish West. All others by Richard Gilmore.]

If You Go:

What: The 5th Annual DISH Awards recognizing the best in London theatre.

When: Tuesday, January 14. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Hors D'Oeuvres 6:45 pm. Awards begin at 8:00 pm.

Where: Hilton London, 300 King Street, London, ON

Tickets: $25 General Admission. Table seatings of 8. Purchase of ticket guarantees spot at a table - first come, first serve basis. Tickets can be purchased at

For updates and more information about the 5th Annual DISH Awards, visit

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