The annual RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award is designed to provide an up-and-coming director with a rare breakthrough-opportunity to originate and direct, as sole director, a fully-funded production as part of a main season of productions in a mid-scale British regional theatre.  The name of the Award honours the memory of the RTST’s co-founder Sir Peter Hall. The RTST is delighted to be running its RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2019 with Curve in Leicester.

Winner: Anthony Almeida, The Royal Opera House, Credit: Johan Persson

Anthony Almedia wins the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2019

On 30 August 2019, Anthony Almeida was announced as the winner of the Award and will now get the opportunity to direct a play at Curve in a co-production between Curve, Rose Theatre, Kingston and English Touring Theatre (ETT). The play will be staged as part of Curve’s Made in Curve programme in 2020, and will subsequently transfer to the main house of Rose Theatre, Kingston and then go on to tour to main house theatres across the UK. The 2019 runner-up was Maria Crocker.

Anthony and Maria were selected by a panel comprising: Nikolai Foster (Artistic Director of Curve) as chair, and judges Jerry Gunn (Executive Producer at Rose Theatre Kingston), Carol Leeming (Poet and Playwright, Resident Assistant Director of Curve), Richard Twyman (Artistic Director of English Touring Theatre), Lindsay Posner (Theatre Director), Grace Smart (Theatre Set & Costume Designer), Cathy Tyson (Actor), Erica Whyman (Deputy Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company).

Winner, Anthony Almeida said: “Being named the 2019 winner of the mighty RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award is a gift. I’m feeling moved. I’m feeling ecstatic. At a time of ever increasing financial uncertainty, when up-and-coming directors can be seen as unnecessary risks, this opportunity is a true lifeline. The process encouraged and challenged all of me. It offers genuine warmth and demands utmost rigour. Now there’s work to be made – I’m thrilled to be taking the vital next steps in my artistic adventures with the big-hearted, wildly ambitious folk at Curve, ETT and Rose Theatre Kingston – to you all, and to the essential RTST: thank you.”

Chairman of the RTST, Sir Geoffrey Cass, said: “The 2019 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award had 8 finalists of the very highest quality, selected from a strong field of 53 candidates. Directing workshops – held over two full days, in which the finalists had to direct actors, observed by our immensely experienced panel of judges, and then be interviewed by the panel – constituted a unique and exacting test of their directing skills. The winner’s prize is the exceptional opportunity to direct a production that will premiere on the stage of Curve, Leicester, move on to the Rose Theatre, Kingston, then go on a main-stage national tour with English Touring Theatre (ETT). The RTST’s collaboration with Leicester’s Curve, Kingston’s Rose Theatre, and English Touring Theatre is admirably fulfilling the RTST’s twin primary charitable objectives of identifying and encouraging emerging theatre professionals and promoting British regional theatre”.

Deputy Chairman, Mark Hawes, said: “This unique Award propels Anthony Almeida deservedly into mid-scale regional tour direction. While there can only be one winner, the selection process has given other hugely talented directors rare and valuable exposure to the influential theatre practitioners who served on the judging panel.”

Curve Chief Executive Chris Stafford, Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, Artistic Director of English Touring Theatre Richard Twyman and Rose Theatre Kingston Executive Producer Jerry Gunn said: “Anthony impressed the entire panel with his vision, rigour and ability to inspire actors. He showed a real passion for making work for audiences outside of London and we’re incredibly excited to collaborate with him on this production which will be seen in Leicester, Kingston and across the UK. We’d like to thank all of the directors that took part in the workshop weekend, who displayed such talent and inspired us all with their commitment to the process and craft of directing.”

How the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award Worked

The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2019 is awarded to an up-and-coming director for demonstration of excellent directing skills and appreciation of how to create theatre that appeals to regional audiences in a rigorous competitive process organised by the RTST in conjunction with Curve.  We were particularly keen to see candidates from a diversity of backgrounds, interests and needs, pitching productions that authentically mirror UK audiences. We welcomed applications from parents and carers who need to balance their caring responsibilities with their working lives.

The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award Scheme opened for entries on 14 May 2019 and closed on 1 July 2019.

Candidates were then invited to pitch their ideas for directing a production that will bring together a diverse range of exciting practitioners to create an imaginative, surprising and popular production for the widest possible audiences in Leicester, Kingston upon Thames and elsewhere in the UK. Candidates could have chosen a classic or modern play (in English or otherwise), or an adaptation of a novel or film. The candidate’s ideas for their chosen play had to demonstrate their artistic potential and the potential of their production to cultivate large audiences.  As part of the Entry Form, candidates were asked to write a letter setting out their vision to the Artistic Director at Curve, the Executive Producer at Rose Theatre Kingston and the Artistic Director at ETT.

Curve, Leicester

In the case of a proposed adaptation of a novel, film or non-English language play, a candidate had to specify an ideal choice of writer to undertake the adaptation.  The candidate had to give reasons for their choice of writer, and how they would like the writer to approach the adaptation.

Written entries were considered by the RTST with the assistance of Curve with a view to producing a Long-list of up to 20 entries.  The Long-list was then submitted for consideration by our Selection Panel. The Selection Panel then selected eight short-listed candidates: Anthony Almeida, Maria Crocker, Jessica Edwards, Poppy Rowley, Josh Seymour, Anthony Simpson-Pike, Alexander Sutton and Lucy Wray.

The 2019 Panel (in order as written above)

The short-listed candidates were invited to workshops on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August 2019, at which they were required to demonstrate their directorial skills by directing actors in a text-based scene of a play.

On the second day of the workshops, up to four finalists were selected for interview, this being the final stage in the selection process.

The Selection Panel choose the ultimate Award winner and runner-up. The winner and runner-up was announced on 30 August 2019.

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 will 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, Curve, Rose Theatre Kingston and ETT in relation to the Award and the Production.  The winner’s success will be celebrated at an Award ceremony organised by the RTST.

The RTST has agreed to make a grant of £50,000 to Curve to be applied towards its costs of staging the Production.  It is a condition of the grant that Curve 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 will be paid a market-rate fee for undertaking the role in this co-production between Curve, Rose Theatre, Kingston and ETT. The Production’s cast and stage crew will be paid at the prevailing UK Theatre rates or higher.