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The Royal Theatrical Support Trust and Nottingham Playhouse – Winners of RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award 2022

2022 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award

The Royal Theatrical Support Trust (RTST) and Nottingham Playhouse have announced Stephen Bailey as the winner of the 2022 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award and Beth Shouler as the runner-up.

Now in its sixth year, the Award – which honours the memory of RTST co-founder, Sir Peter Hall – offers the winner their first-time opportunity to direct a full-scale, fully funded, mid-scale production of a classic or modern play, which may be an existing play or a new adaptation of a novel or film.

As the winner of the 2022 Award, Stephenwill now get the opportunity to direct a production, opening in autumn 2023 as part of the main season of plays to be staged at Nottingham Playhouse. The RTST will make a grant of £50,000 to be applied towards the costs of the production.

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

The Award scheme promotes the RTST’s charitable objectives by supporting up-and-coming theatre practitioners and British regional theatres. It is also intended to appeal to a wide range of candidates and to play a part in promoting diversity in the theatre, onstage, offstage and among audiences.

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.”

The last/2021 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award-winner was Denzel Westley-Sanderson, with the result that he will be directing a national tour of The Importance of Being Earnest in a co-production between ETT, Leeds Playhouse and Rose Theatre, opening in Leeds in September 2022.