The RTST is delighted to be running its 2023 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award with Northern Stage in Newcastle, the largest producing theatre in the North East of England, in partnership with Rose Theatre, Mercury Theatre in Colchester and English Touring Theatre (ETT).

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 or lead director, a fully-funded production as part of a main season of plays at a mid-scale British regional theatre and to take that production on tour to other mid-scale regional theatres, and to provide grant support for the creation of that production.

The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2023 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 Newcastle, Kingston-upon-Thames, Colchester and elsewhere in the UK.  The winner will emerge from a rigorous competitive process which has been organised by the RTST in conjunction with Northern Stage.  

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

On Friday 17 November, Jack Bradfield was announced as the winner of the 2023 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award, and Lilac Yosiphon as the runner-up.

As a result of winning, Jack will direct a brand-new production at on Northern Stage’s main stage, with the support of Northern Stage Artistic Director Natalie Ibu and the full Northern Stage team, in a co-production with Rose Theatre in Kingston, English Touring Theatre (ETT) and Mercury Theatre in Colchester. The production will open in September 2024 as part of Northern Stage’s Autumn season and then go on tour to Rose Theatre, Mercury Theatre and venues arranged by ETT.  The RTST will contribute £50,000 towards the production costs.  As runner-up, Lilac will receive mentoring support from Northern Stage.

Jack and Lilac were selected by a panel comprising Natalie Ibu (Chair and Artistic Director of Northern Stage), Tinuke Craig (director), Debbie Duru (designer); Debbie Hannan (director); Christopher Haydon (Artistic Director of Rose Theatre), Kate McGrath (playwright and CEO of Fuel Theatre), Lucian Msamati (actor) and Richard Twyman (Artistic Director of ETT). The other shortlisted finalists were Emily Aboud, Tanuja Amarasuriya, Madelaine Moore, Oscar Toeman, Lucy Wray and Chris Yarnell.

Sir Geoffrey CassRTST Chairman, said today, “Uniquelyour annual Award fulfils twin-purposes: it identifies and boosts the career of a brilliant director, and it provides financial support to an excellent British regional producing theatre to create a production.  The 2023 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 – twice – by our judging panel of highly experienced theatre practitioners. We’re immensely grateful to the panellists for their diligence, and to Northern Stage, under the inspiring leadership of Kate Denby and Natalie Ibu, for being our 2023 Award partner and committing to stage the winner, Jack Bradfield’s production with RTST support.”

Mark Hawes, Director of the RTST, commented: “We’re thrilled that our 2023 Award is the catalyst for Jack Bradfield’s regional mid-scale directing debut at Northern Stage and on tour with ETT, Mercury and Rose, supported by the RTST. Jack joins a roll of honour of six directors whose careers have been propelled on to the mid-scale by previous years’ Awards.  As runner-up, Lilac Yosiphon is also in the company of distinguished predecessors. For sure: both Jack and Lilac are directors to watch.

Jack Bradfield stated:  “It’s an honour to receive this year’s RTSTSir Peter Hall Director Award from RTST and Northern Stage. This is an opportunity like no other, and I can’t wait to create a new show as part of the main seasons at Northern Stage, The Rose, and Mercury Theatre, and to take it on tour with ETT. I’d like to thank the panel for their generosity and rigour, as well as everyone who has supported my work as a director over my career so far. I’m looking forward to making a show with heart and humanity for audiences across the country.”

Natalie Ibu, Artistic Director of Northern Stage also commented: At Northern Stage we are committed to supporting the development of the next generation of inspiring, ambitious and skilled theatre artists to make work on mid-scale both here in Newcastle and on stages across the country. We’re so grateful to all the finalists for their bold visions, courage and passion for putting big stories on big stages that they believed could have big impact on audiences across England. We received 90 entries so choosing a winner amongst such talented individuals was a real challenge and we offer particular congratulations to Lilac as runner up. We can’t wait to introduce our winner Jack to the team at Northern Stage and begin working with him on his new show. We have been so impressed by his craft, creativity, and commitment to putting audiences at the centre of his practice – audiences here in Newcastle and across the UK are in for quite the event.”

More information about the award

The RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award opened for entries on 11 July 2023 and the closed at 6.00pm on Monday, 18 September 2023.

We were particularly keen to see candidates from a diversity of backgrounds, interests and needs. 

We welcomed entries from parents and carers who need to balance their caring responsibilities with their working lives.  

Information for entries
(please note: submissions are now closed):

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 have choosen 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 have demonstrated 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 Northern Stage, Mercury Theatre Colchester, Rose Theatre, ETT and other partners; and/or new ideas arising from the creative relationship struck between the winning director and Northern Stage and its partners. Candidates are therefore invited to propose alternative play options.  In 2023, the play directed by the 2022 winner will be the play featured in their entry; 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 Northern Stage 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 Natalie Ibu, Artistic Director of Northern Stage (Chair); Tinuke Craig, Director; Debbie Duru, Designer; Debbie Hannan, Director; Christopher Haydon, Artistic Director of Rose Theatre; Kate McGrath, Playwright & CEO of Fuel Theatre;  Lucian Msamati, Actor; and Richard Twyman, Artistic Director of ETT. 

This 2023 Selection Panel is new.  None of the Panellists – with the exception of Richard Twyman – has previously served on a Selection Panel for the Award, and Richard did not serve on last year’s Panel.

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

Short-listed candidates were invited to Director Workshops in London on the weekend of Saturday 11 and Sunday, 12 November 2023, 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 selected 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 Northern Stage and its co-producers in relation to the Award and the Production.  

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

The RTST has agreed to make a grant of £50,000 to Northern Stage to be applied towards its costs of staging the Production.  It is a condition of the grant that Northern Stage 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 Northern Stage for undertaking this role. The Production’s cast and stage crew will be paid at the prevailing UK Theatre rates or higher.

The official Runner-up will receive mentoring and professional support from Northern Stage.  

For the rules of, and information about the 2023 Award scheme, please visit our Rules & Information page.

Sir Geoffrey Cass, RTST Chairman, and Mark Hawes, Director of the RTST said, “This year, Newcastle is the exciting hub of our regional-theatre-focused RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award scheme. We’re thrilled to be running the Award with Northern Stage under the inspiring leadership of Kate Denby and Natalie Ibu, and delighted they’ll be working with our friends at Rose Theatre and ETT in co-producing the winner’s production next year. Once again, our unique Award and its linked production grant will be the catalyst for a national tour directed by an individual making their high-profile directing debut in mid-scale regional theatre. Although there can only be one winner and one runner-up, all finalists get the opportunity to showcase their skills in-person before the judging panel, which can spark new industry connections. This Award – our seventh – will again serve our twinned objectives of promoting and supporting the country’s finest rising directing talent and British regional theatre. We’re proud to be making a difference.

Natalie Ibu, Artistic Director of Northern Stage also commented: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Royal Theatrical Support Trust to provide a career-changing opportunity for a director. We believe that everyone should have access to culture and creative opportunities and that theatre is a vital part of our cultural lives – to do that we need bold directors, with a point of view and who are committed to audiences making work on the mid-scale. We look forward to working with the RTST to meet the future of British theatre.

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, Northern Stage – is undertaken by the Director of the RTST 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 actors who participate in the Director Workshops are paid 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.