The RTST is delighted to be running the 2017 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award Scheme (Scheme) with Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST).

The winner of the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2017 was announced on 8 May 2017 to be Chelsea Walker.

The official runner-up was Tinuke Craig.

Chelsea has won the unique opportunity to direct a full-scale, fully-funded production of a classic play – A Streetcar Named Desire – to be co-produced by NST, English Touring Theatre and Theatr Clwyd in 2018. The production, which will run from March to June, will premiere in the main house of NST’s new city-centre theatre, NST City, before going on a tour of the main houses of theatres across the UK. The RTST is to make a grant of £50,000 to NST to support its share of the production costs.

Chelsea was selected as winner for her demonstration of exceptional directing skills in a rigorous competitive process among director-candidates. The process began with candidates pitching in writing their vision for a bold, radical re-working of a classic play of their choosing, and it culminated in seven short-listed candidates being observed directing actors in workshops, and then a final interview stage.

The winner was selected by a Selection Panel of distinguished theatre practitioners, namely:

  • Sam Hodges, Director / CEO, NST (Chair)
  • Howard Brenton
  • Tamara Harvey, Artistic Director, Theatr Clwyd
  • Patricia Hodge
  • Danny Lee Wanter
  • Stephanie Street
  • Richard Twyman, Artistic Director, ETT

Chelsea Walker directed the first major revival of Low Level Panic by Clare McIntyre at the Orange Tree earlier this year. Her previous directing credits include P’yongyang by In-Sook Chappell and Chicken Dust by Ben Weatherill (Finborough), Klippies by Jess Sian (Southwark Playhouse) and Lean by Isley Lynn (Tristan Bates). She has also assistant directed on Wild by Mike Bartlett (Hampstead Theatre), Routes by Rachel de-lahay (Royal Court), and The Little Mermaid, adapted by Joel Horwood (Bristol Old Vic). She was a runner up in the JMK Young Directors’ Award 2016, is a director on the Old Vic 12, and is a script reader for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. In 2018, Chelsea is directing Yous Two at Hampstead Theatre between 18 Jan – 24 Feb.

Winner, Chelsea Walker said: “I’m thrilled to have won the RTST Award, and I’m really grateful for their support as I make this next step in my career. These platforms for young directors are rare and invaluable. I feel very lucky to be given the opportunity to work with the brilliant NST, ETT and Theatr Clwyd. The process of applying for the award forces you to be rigorous and interrogate the kind of work you want to make. I’d like to thank the RTST, Sam Hodges, Tamara Harvey, Richard Twyman and the wonderful, welcoming panel for making the process so warm and invigorating.”

Mark Hawes, Deputy Chairman of the RTST, said: “The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award winner Chelsea Walker is demonstrably a director to watch, and NST City – Southampton’s sleek, new-build led by Sam Hodges – will definitely be a theatre to watch.  We’re thrilled to be the catalyst for Chelsea’s launch into mid-scale, main-house directing as part of NST City’s first year programme – and for Nuffield Southampton Theatres’ co-production with English Touring Theatre and Theatr Clwyd, which will propel a national tour of a re-imagined classic directed by Chelsea.  Exciting times ahead for British regional theatre”.

At a prestigious award ceremony in November 2017 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, winner Chelsea Walker was presented with her award by chairman Sir Geoffrey Cass, deputy chairman Mark Hawes, RTST trustees Sir Ian McKellen, Noma Dumezweni and Sir Mark Rylance, and Sam Hodges. The event, attended by some of the best known names in British theatre, included entertainment from Clare Halse & Tom Lister, currently starring in 42nd Street, and the acting students of The Guildhall School of Music & Drama.


Photo (left): Sir Mark Rylance (RTST Trustee), Tom Lister, Sir Ian McKellen (RTST Trustee), Mark Hawes (RTST Deputy Chairman), Sir Geoffrey Cass (RTST Chairman), Noma Dumezweni (RTST Trustee), Clare Halse. Photo (middle): Lady Hall (Nicki Frei), Mark Hawes, winner Chelsea Walker, Sir Geoffrey Cass. Photo (right): Winner Chelsea Walker, Noma Dumezweni.

Chelsea’s bold new revival of Tennessee Williams’ classic, A Streetcar Named Desire, opens at NST on 23 March 2018, running until 31 March, before heading out on a major UK tour.

See below all performances dates:

How the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2017 Worked

The RTST began accepting entries for the Award on Thursday, 2 March 2017 and the deadline for entry closed at 6pm on Monday, 20 March 2017.

Candidates pitched a bold, radical re-working of a classic British or European text to respond to contemporary issues, particularly those relating to our national identity. The re-imagination had to be based on either: (i) the original text of a classic English-language play; or (ii) a literal translation in English of a classic foreign-language play.

A candidate could, if he or she chose, specify an ideal choice of writer to write a new English-language adaptation of their chosen play. If applicable, the candidate had to give reasons for their choice and how they would like the adaptor to approach their adaptation.

Short-listed candidates were invited to workshops on 1 and 2 May 2017, at which they were required to demonstrate their directorial skills by directing actors in a text-based scene of a play. Candidates were notified of the particular scene by the RTST in advance of the workshop.

Up to four finalists were selected for interview, this being the final stage in the selection process.

The Shortlisted candidates who were invited to the workshops were selected from a Long-list of entries by a Selection Panel of distinguished theatre practitioners appointed by the RTST. The Selection Panel observed and judged the workshops and selected the ultimate Award winner and runner-up. The winner and runner-up were announced after the workshops, and there will be an Award ceremony later in the year.

Although there is only one Award winner and one official Runner-up, the Scheme is designed to provide a positive professional experience for all the candidates (up to eight) who are selected on the basis of their written entries to participate in the workshop stage of the selection process.  They all received constructive feedback from the Selection Panel after the winner of the Award is announced.

It is intended that the Award winner will benefit from the spotlight of publicity generated by the promotional activities of the RTST, NST, ETT and Theatr Clwyd in relation to the Award and the Production.

The RTST has agreed to make a grant of £50,000 to NST to be applied towards its costs of staging the Production. It is a condition of the grant that NST participates in the Scheme and facilitates the Production.  The Award winner will not be required to seek funding for the Production.

The Award winner will be the sole director of the Production and be paid a market-rate fee for undertaking this role at NST. The Production’s cast and stage crew will be paid Equity/UK Theatre minimum rates or higher.

For rules and information about the 2017 scheme, visit our Rules & Information page.