The Royal Theatrical Support Trust (RTST) and English Touring Theatre (ETT) have announced Denzel Westley-Sanderson as the winner of the 2021 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award and Nathan Crossan-Smith as the runner-up.
Now in its fifth year, the award – which honours the memory of RTST co-founder, Sir Peter Hall – is made to an up-and-coming director demonstrating exceptional directing skills in a rigorous competitive process.
As the winner of the 2021 Award, Denzel Westley-Sanderson will direct a full-scale, funded, mid-scale regional touring production of a classic or modern play opening in 2022 at Leeds Playhouse, in a co-production between ETT and Leeds Playhouse, then tour across the UK. The RTST will make a grant of £50,000 to be applied towards the costs of the winner’s production.
As the runner-up, Nathan Crossan-Smith will receive mentoring and professional support from ETT.
Denzel Westley-Sanderson and Nathan Crossan-Smith were selected by a panel comprising Chair, Richard Twyman; Artistic Director of ETT; James Brining, Artistic Director of Leeds Playhouse; Dominic Cooke, Director; Paapa Essiedu, Actor; Haydn Gwynne, Actor; Shelley Maxwell, Movement Director; Nickie Miles-Wildin, Co-Artistic Director and CEO of DaDaFest; and Sirine Saaba, Actor.
The 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.
Sir Geoffrey Cass, Chairman, and Mark Hawes, Director of the RTST said, “Our Award scheme has become a unique gauge of up-and-coming directing talent in British theatre — this year the reading is higher than ever. We received a surfeit of high-calibre entries from experienced directors eager to seize this rare career-transformative opportunity to progress to mid-scale tour directing -doubtless aspirations were pent-up over the pandemic. Winner: Denzel Westley-Sanderson and runner-up Nathan Crossan-Smith will be exciting directors to watch.
“Denzel’s production will be the fourth regional mid-scale touring co-production, and the fifth regional production in total, to be catalysed by our RTST Award and production grant. We’re thrilled to be working with our 2021Award partners ETT and Leeds Playhouse to bring this about next Autumn. Taking a wider view: we’re enormously proud that our Award is continuing to propel fresh and diverse talent into the mid-scale while providing meaningful support to regional British theatre companies, especially in these trying times for the industry.”
Previous winners and official runners-up respectively of the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award are Anthony Almeida and Maria Crocker (2019); Nancy Medina and Josh Seymour (2018); Chelsea Walker and Tinuke Craig (2017); and Kate Hewitt and Rebecca Frecknall (2016).
For further details of the award, please visit the RTST’s website: www.rtst.org.uk.