“The vision of the Trustees of the RTST to enable this scheme to happen is building a bedrock for both mid-scale touring and future industry-leading directors.” Sam Hodges, Director and former artistic director of Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Founder/Artistic Director of High Tide; and Aidan Grounds, Creative Producer, MAST Mayflower Studios.

“…one of the key prizes for young* theatre directors in the UK” Daily Telegraph

The RTST operates a prestigious annual award scheme for up-and-coming theatre directors: the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award Scheme (the “Scheme”).

Each year, the Scheme provides a career-transformative opportunity for the Award-winning director to originate and direct a fully-funded, full-scale production of a play as part of a main season of productions at a mid-scale British regional theatre chosen by the RTST, and where feasible, to take that production on a regional tour to other mid-scale theatres.

The RTST ran the inaugural Award in 2016 with Sheffield Theatres. The winner, Kate Hewitt, won the opportunity to direct the British regional premiere of Tribes by Nina Raine in the Crucible Studio Theatre. Tribes ran for three weeks in June and July 2017 and received excellent reviews. Kate’s directing career has since gone from strength to strength — including critical successes on the main stages of the Crucible, the Young Vic, London and Chichester Festival Theatre. For more information on the success of our 2016 Award scheme click here.

Chelsea Walker won the 2017 Award and the unique opportunity to direct a full-scale, fully-funded production of a classic play – A Streetcar Named Desire – co-produced by Nuffield Southampton Theatres, English Touring Theatre (ETT) and Theatr Clwyd in 2018. The production premiered in the main house of NST’s new city-centre theatre, then named NST City, in March 2018 and then went on a tour of main houses of theatres across the UK. It opened to four star reviews from The Stage, The Times and The Guardian. For more information on the success of our 2017 Award scheme click here.

Nancy Medina was the winner of the 2018 Award winning the opportunity to direct Two Trains Running by August Wilson on the Royal Stage at Royal & Derngate in a co-production between Royal & Derngate and ETT. The play was produced as part of Royal & Derngate’s “Made in Northampton” programme in 2019, and went on tour to the main stages of seven regional theatres, commencing in Northampton at Royal & Derngate in August 2019. For more information on the success of our 2018 Award scheme click here.

We launched our fourth award scheme with Curve Leicester, partnering with ETT in May 2019. Anthony Almeida was announced as the winner of the Award and went on to direct Tennessee William’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at Curve in a co-production between Curve, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and ETT. To find out more about the 2019 Award click here.

We were honoured and immensely grateful to our Trustee Sir Ian McKellen and to Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) to be one of the charities chosen to benefit from the profits generated by the West End season of Ian’s one-man show, Ian McKellen on Stage, at ATG’s Harold Pinter Theatre (which ran from September 2019 to January 2020). The funds are a major boost to our ability to continue supporting rising-star directors and regional theatres through our annual RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award scheme.

In 2021, we launched our fifth Award with ETT and Leeds Playhouse. Denzel Westley-Sanderson was announced as the winner of the 2021 Award in November 2021. As the winner, Denzel will now direct a production of The Importance of Being Earnest in a co-production between ETT, Leeds Playhouse and Rose Theatre (Kingston). The play will open at Leeds Playhouse in September 2022 and subsequently be staged at Rose Theatre and go on a national tour of theatres arranged by ETT. The runner-up was Nathan Crossan-Smith, who is receiving mentoring and professional support from ETT. Find out more on our 2021 Award page.

Our 2022 Award, which we are running with Nottingham Playhouse, launched in April 2022. Stephen Bailey was announced as the winner in July, with Beth Shouler as runner-up. Stephen will now get the opportunity to originate and direct a play on the main stage of Nottingham Playhouse in autumn 2023. To find out more, visit our 2022 Award page.

About The Award

The Award was established as the RTST Director Award scheme.  It was re-named the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award scheme in October 2017 to honour the memory of the late Sir Peter Hall who was a co-founder and lifelong supporter of the RTST and widely acknowledged as one of the most influential figures in British theatre for over half a century.  Sir Peter’s family graciously endorsed the name-change. Our chairman, Sir Geoffrey Cass, said:

Sir Peter stood for artistic vision and integrity and a passionate belief in the importance of theatre to our culture and civilisation. He was a fervent champion of rising talent. The re-naming as the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award of our prestigious award to promote brilliant directors and regional theatre seemed to us to be the perfect way for the RTST to pay tribute to the man.”  

The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award Scheme is designed for the benefit of directors who have already built up a track record of professional directing experience and who are ready for the opportunity provided by the Scheme to progress to directing a production in the main house, or a comparably high-profile auditorium, of a regional theatre.

The Scheme involves a collaboration between the RTST and a regional theatre selected by the RTST for the excellence of its reputation as a producing theatre and the profile and quality of its work.

The RTST makes a substantial grant to the participating regional theatre to be applied towards the costs of the Award winner’s production.  It is a condition of the grant that the theatre facilitates the implementation of the Scheme and the realisation of that production. 

The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award winner emerges from a rigorous competitive process among candidates.  To enter for the Scheme, a candidate must be UK resident and be able to demonstrate a professional track record as a director: this might be as an assistant and/or associate director and/or as a sole or lead director of professional theatre productions, subject to satisfying certain other qualifying criteria. *Candidates must be over 18 but there is no upper age limit.

Each candidate is required to submit ideas for directing a play of their choosing at the participating regional theatre.  Certain criteria for the play are specified each year.  Shortlisted candidates are required to participate in directing workshops with actors in order to demonstrate their directorial skills.  Finalists are interviewed. 

The Award winner is selected by a panel of distinguished theatre practitioners appointed by the RTST.  There is an official runner-up. Panellists for the 2016 Award were Daniel Evans (Chair), Robert Hastie, Sir Ian McKellen CBE, Dawn Walton, Richard Wilson and Dame Penelope Wilton. Panellists for the 2017 Award were Sam Hodges (Chair), Howard Brenton, Tamara Harvey, Patricia Hodge OBE, Danny Lee Wynter, Stephanie Street and Richard Twyman. Panellists for the 2018 Award were James Dacre (Chair), Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, Sir Trevor Nunn CBE, Tanya Moodie, Samantha Bond, Paule Constable and Richard Twyman. Panellists for the 2019 Award were Chair Nikolai Foster, Jerry GunnCarol Leeming MBE FRSA, Lindsay Posner, Grace Smart, Cathy Tyson, Richard Twyman and Erica Whyman OBE. Panellists for the 2021 Award were Chair Richard Twyman, James Brining, Dominic Cooke, Paapa Essiedu, Haydn Gwynne, Shelley Maxwell, Nickie Miles-Wildin, Sirine Saba. The panellists for 2022 were Niamh Cusack, Omari Douglas, Beth Hinton-Lever, Chair, Adam Penford, Beth Steel and Matthew Xia.

The Scheme promotes the RTST’s charitable objects in two main ways:

  • it supports emerging talent in the theatre; and
  • it supports British regional theatres, catalysing productions that generate work for numerous theatre practitioners and high-quality drama for audiences around the country.

The Scheme is intended to appeal to a diverse range of candidates, and to play a part in promoting diversity in the theatre, onstage and offstage, and among audiences. Of the eight directors who have thus far been winners or runners-up, six are women, and three are people who experience racism — two of the latter being winners.

The RTST’s intention is to continue to run the Scheme annually, and to work with different regional theatres.  The detailed terms of the Scheme in any given year will be published on the RTST’s website.  The terms may vary from year to year.