The RTST is delighted to be running its RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award in 2022 with Nottingham Playhouse.

The annual RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award is designed to provide an up-and-coming director with a first-time, career-breakthrough opportunity to originate and direct, as sole director, a fully-funded production as part of a main season of plays at a mid-scale British regional theatre and to provide grant support to that theatre to stage that production. Typically, the production tours to other venues nationally.

The name of the Award honours the memory of the RTST’s co-founder Sir Peter Hall.

The winner of the 2022 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award is Stephen Bailey, with Beth Shouler as the runner-up. As the winner of the 2022 Award, Stephen will now get the opportunity to direct The Real & Imagined History of the Elephant Man, opening on 16 Sept 2023 as part of the main season of plays to be staged at Nottingham Playhouse. The production runs in Nottingham to 7 October, after which it will tour to Blackpool Grand, 17 October to 21 October, and Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, 24 October to 28 October 2023. The RTST will make a grant of £50,000 to be applied towards the costs of the production.

Winner Stephen Bailey (photo: Stine Tveito)

Stephen and Beth were selected by a panel comprising Niamh Cusack (actor), Omari Douglas (actor) Beth Hinton-Lever (actor), chair Adam Penford (Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse), Beth Steel (writer), and Matthew Xia (Artistic Director of Actors Touring Company).

Winner, Stephen Bailey, said: “I cannot thank RTST, the panel and Nottingham Playhouse enough for this Award. It is an incredible opportunity for me and one that still hasn’t sunk in. It doesn’t feel like a next step but a leap: I feel incredibly privileged. I’d like to thank everyone who has given me time, support, advice, space, and opportunity over the last six years to get my practice to this point. I would not be here without you. I’d also like to thank RTST for being so open and supportive around my access and commend Nottingham and the panel for their belief in disabled-led, disabled work on main stages.

Sir Geoffrey Cass, RTST Chairman, said today: “Our annual Award uniquely serves twinned purposes: it identifies and promotes the career of a brilliant director and it provides grant support to an excellent British regional producing theatre. Our 2022 winner and runner-up were selected from eight high-calibre finalists after an exacting test of their directing skills over a weekend of Directing Workshops in which they were observed directing actors, and then interviewed, by our judging panel of highly experienced theatre practitioners. We’re immensely grateful to the panellists for their diligence, and to Nottingham Playhouse for being our 2022 Award partner and committing to stage the winner, Stephen Bailey’s production with our grant support.”

Mark Hawes, Director of the RTST, commented: “We’re thrilled that our 2022 Award is the catalyst for Stephen Bailey’s mid-scale directing debut by means of an autumn 2023 main programme production at Nottingham Playhouse, supported by an RTST £50,000 production grant. We’re especially happy to be supporting disabled-led work on the regional mid-scale. This is the type of career-transformative and industry-significant outcome the Award was designed to bring about.

Adam Penford, Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse also commented: “Stephen’s application hugely impressed the panel. It was rousing, current, thorough, provocative, and balanced creative risk with pragmatism. This impression was consolidated as we watched him work with the actors during the Director Weekend with such precision, skill, and care. I’m very much looking forward to working with him over the next year and to the production he will bring to the Playhouse main stage next autumn. It must be said that the standard of all the candidates was incredibly high, and Beth Shouler is a worthy runner up – also destined for great things. We are grateful to the RTST for their generosity and support in providing this essential opportunity.”

Shortlisted candidates were Stephen Bailey, Shiv Rabheru, Madelaine Moore, Robert Awosusi, Andy Routledge, Max Lindsay, Beth Shouler and Michelle Payne.

In London on Sunday 21 May, Stephen received his award at a special event hosted by Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Geoffrey Cass.

How the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2022 Worked

The winner of the Award gets the opportunity to originate and direct a play (the “Production”) in the main season of plays to be staged at Nottingham Playhouse in Autumn 2023. The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2022 is awarded to an up-and-coming director for demonstration of excellence and high promise in directing skills and appreciation of how to create theatre that appeals to audiences in Nottingham and potentially on a brief UK tour. The winner emerges from a rigorous competitive process organised by the RTST in conjunction with Nottingham Playhouse. We were particularly keen to see candidates from a diversity of backgrounds, interests and needs.

Any candidate requiring access support, information on how we can help was provided (under the heading of “Accessibility”) in the “Rules and Information” mentioned below. We welcomed entries from parents and carers who need to balance their caring responsibilities with their working lives.

The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award opened for entries on Tuesday, 12 April, 2022 and closed for entries on Monday, 23 May, 2022.

Candidates were invited to pitch their ideas for directing a production that will bring together a range of exciting practitioners to create an imaginative, surprising and engaging production for the widest possible range of audience members. Candidates could choose 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 new and existing audiences. In the case of a proposed adaptation, a candidate had to specify their ideal choice of (living) writer to undertake the adaptation.

While it is intended that the play directed by the Award winner will be the play that is the subject of their entry, this outcome cannot be guaranteed owing to a variety of factors, such as: availability of rights; pre-arranged or historical programming at Nottingham Playhouse; and/or new ideas arising from the creative relationship struck between the winning director and Nottingham Playhouse. In previous years, the play ultimately directed by the winner has been different from the one featured in their entry, but, in every case, the play ultimately directed has been chosen by mutual agreement between the winner and the producing theatre.

Entries were considered by the RTST with the assistance of Nottingham Playhouse with a view to producing a Long-list of up to 20 entries.

The Long-list was submitted for consideration by a Selection Panel comprising: Niamh Cusack (actor); Omari Douglas (actor); Beth Hinton-Lever (actor); Chair, Adam Penford (Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse); Beth Steel (writer); and Matthew Xia (Artistic Director of Actors Touring Company).

None of the members of the Selection Panel has served on a Selection Panel for the Award in recent years.

The Selection Panel then selected a Short-list of up to eight candidates.

Short-listed candidates were invited to Director Workshops in London on the weekend of Saturday, 16 and Sunday, 17 July 2022, at which they were required to demonstrate their skills by directing actors in a text-based scene of a play, after which they were interviewed by the Selection Panel. The particular scene was settled with candidates in advance of the Workshops. The Selection Panel observed the Workshops. On the second day of the Workshops, up to four finalists were selected for a further interview, this being the final stage in the selection process.

The Selection Panel chose the ultimate Award winner and official Runner-up, who was publicly announced after the Workshops.

Although there can only be one Award-winner and one official Runner-up, the Award scheme is designed to provide a positive and meaningful professional experience for all the candidates who are selected for participation in the Workshops. They will all receive 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 and Nottingham Playhouse in relation to the Award and the Production.

The winner’s success will be celebrated at an Award ceremony organised by the RTST, to which leading theatre practitioners will be invited.

(Photo by David Baird –

The RTST has agreed to make a grant of £50,000 to Nottingham Playhouse to be applied towards its costs of staging the Production. It is a condition of the grant that Nottingham Playhouse participates in the Award 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 fee of £6,000 by Nottingham Playhouse for undertaking this role. The Production’s cast and stage crew will be paid at the prevailing UK Theatre rates or higher. There is a possibility that the Production will tour nationally but this is yet to be confirmed.

The official Runner-up will receive mentoring and professional support from Nottingham Playhouse.

For the rules of, and information about how to enter, the 2022 Award scheme, please visit our Rules & Information page.

Previous award winners and official runners-up of the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award include Kate Hewitt and Rebecca Frecknall (2016); and Chelsea Walker and Tinuke Craig (2017); Nancy Medina and Josh Seymour (2018) and Anthony Almeida and Maria Crocker (2019). Denzel Westley-Sanderson was announced as the winner of the 2021 Award in November 2021. The runner-up was Nathan Crossan-Smith.

The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award scheme is run by the RTST, a registered charity, in fulfilment of its charitable objects. All of the RTST’s work in setting up and running the Award scheme to provide this unique career opportunity for directors and the associated catalytic production grant to a theatre company – in this case, Nottingham Playhouse – is undertaken by the RTST Director and the other Trustees and volunteers for no remuneration. The members of the Panel who are freelancers or acting in a personal capacity are offered fees. The production grant made by the RTST pursuant to the Award scheme is provided out of its charitable funds, which derive wholly from donations to the RTST.