What a fantastic year 2019 was for NHB! We were shortlisted for an award at the IPG Independent Publishing Awards; celebrated awards success for loads of our authors including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antony Sher, Frances Poet and Lynn Nottage; launched our new series Multiplay Drama (which is up for a prize at the Music and Drama Education Awards), and of course published over one hundred fantastic new plays and theatre books.
We know that you've been incredibly busy yourselves, as we licensed thousands of performances of Nick Hern Books plays over 2019! We can't wait to see the brilliant work you come up with this year, but for now let's take a look back and get inspired by our Top 10 Most-Performed Plays of 2019.
1. Blue Stockings by Jessica Swale
Jessica Swale holds the top spot in our Top 10 list for the third year running. Her moving, comical and eye-opening historical drama Blue Stockings is a defiant story of four young women fighting for education against the backdrop of women's suffrage. 'Cracking... leaves you astonished at the prejudices these educational pioneers had to overcome' Guardian
Loved this play? Take a look at: Emilia
2. Ladies' Day by Amanda Whittington
Amanda Whittington’s fantastic, female-led plays always hold a deserving place in our Top 10. This high-spirited comedy about four likely lasses from the Hull fish docks on a day trip to the races has been a hit with amateur companies for years. With its warm heart, relatable soul and fabulous roles for women, it's not hard to see why. 'Exuberantly up-to-the-minute comedy' Guardian
Loved this play? Take a look at: The Nightingales
3. The Thrill of Love by Amanda Whittington
A gripping, female-led drama about Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Holding a place in our Top 10 for the fifth year running, The Thrill of Love dramatises an absorbing true story and takes a fresh look at the woman behind the headlines. 'Tense and engaging throughout... a triumph' The Stage
Loved this play? Take a look at: Machinal
4. Bull by Mike Bartlett
Storming on to the list in the first year of its performing rights re-release, Mike Bartlett’s razor-sharp play about office politics and playground bullying has been an instant hit with amateur companies. Witty and unflinching, Olivier Award-winning Bull offers ringside seats as three employees fight to keep their jobs. 'Short, slick and emotionally unflinching... delivers a decisive punch' The Stage
Loved this play? Take a look at: Contractions
5. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit, adapted for the stage by Mike Kenny
This story of a prosperous Edwardian family who nearly lose everything captures the anxieties and exhilarations of childhood with great tenderness and insight. Mike Kenny's imaginative adaptation of the much-loved children's classic offers three plum roles for young performers, and is eminently suitable for schools, youth theatres and drama groups. 'This glorious adaptation never for a moment runs out of steam' Guardian
Loved this play? Take a look at: The Machine Gunners
6. Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale
Holding a place in our Top 10 ever since its release, this explosive, extravagant, warm-hearted comedy is an unending delight. Boasting a large cast and a charming lead role for a female performer, Nell Gwynn won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. 'Bawdy and brilliant... a wonderful, warm-hearted and generous piece of theatrical history' The Stage
Loved this play? Take a look at: Anne Boleyn
7. Di and Viv and Rose by Amelia Bullmore
A firm favourite with amateur companies, this warm and funny play about friendship offers three great roles for female performers. Crackling with wisdom and wit, Di and Viv and Rose is a humorous and thoughtful exploration of a relationship spanning 30 years. 'Brims over with warm, effervescent humour and sharp perceptiveness' Independent
Loved this play? Take a look at: Little Gem
8. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted for the stage by Steven Canny and John Nicholson
A gloriously funny makeover of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most celebrated Sherlock Holmes story, from the hit comedy team Peepolykus. The Hound of the Baskervilles is an energetic spoof, offering abundant opportunities for silly comedy and slapstick for three male performers. 'A masterclass in madcap energy… a fun and fresh Sherlock Holmes romp' The Stage
Loved this play? Take a look at: Dracula: The Bloody Truth
9. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, adapted for the stage by Laura Eason
Laura Eason's celebrated version of Verne's classic novel packs in more than fifty unforgettable characters. This imaginative adaptation was written for an ensemble cast of eight, but can be performed by a much larger cast – making it perfect for any theatre company or drama group looking for a high-spirited adventure. 'Bursting with imagination, this exuberant whistle-stop tour through Verne is a trip worth making' The Stage
Loved this play? Take a look at: The Three Musketeers
10. The Children by Lucy Kirkwood
New to our Top 10 is Lucy Kirkwood's pressingly topical tragicomic The Children, following two ageing nuclear scientists in an isolated cottage on the coast, as the world around them crumbles. This beautifully written three-hander was named Best Play at the 2018 Writers' Guild Awards. 'Sly, gripping, darkly funny… this is sci-fi kitted out with real people, real dilemmas, real scope' The Times
Loved this play? Take a look at: Foxfinder
Take a look at more of our popular titles over on our Most Performed page, rounding up our Top 20 Plays to Perform. From Andrew Bovell’s bold and complex family portrait Things I Know To Be True, co-produced by renowned physical theatre company Frantic Assembly, to the explosive, award-winning teen drama Girls Like That by Evan Placey, to Ella Hickson’s twist on J. M. Barrie’s classic, Wendy & Peter Pan, which puts Wendy firmly centre-stage, we hope that these hit plays will inspire your search for your perfect next play to perform!
If you're interested in finding out more about these plays, or need any other help or advice, be sure to get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable Performing Rights team for information and to request your free inspection copy. Call us on 020 8749 4953 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The winners for the Off West End Awards (or Offies, as they're known) 2020 have been announced, with numerous NHB-published plays and authors going home with prizes.
Best New Play was awarded to Ross Willis' bold fantastical Wolfie. This dizzyingly theatrical, wildly irreverent look at life in and after the care system was first seen at Theatre503 in March 2019, and was also named Best Play at The Writers' Guild Awards 2020.
Dylan Coburn Gray, was named Most Promising New Playwright for his Verity Bargate Award-winning play Citysong. This lyrical drama, which tells the story of three generations of a Dublin family on one day, premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in May 2019, before transferring to Soho Theatre, London.
The annual Off West End Theatre Awards recognise and celebrate the excellence, innovation and ingenuity of independent theatres across London. Click here to see the full list of 2020 winners.
We’re proud to introduce Nick Hern Books Playscript Subscriptions: a new way to keep up to date with the most exciting contemporary plays by today’s top writers, from the UK’s leading theatre publisher.
Each month we'll send you (or your chosen recipient) one newly published NHB playscript selected by our expert team. It could be a major premiere from a big-name playwright, a timely new version of a classic, or a fresh and exciting work by a talented, up-and-coming writer – all hot off the press, and straight from the UK and Ireland’s most renowned stages.
Nick Hern Books Playscript Subscriptions come in 6-Month or 12-Month packages, and are available to purchase now. For more information, visit our Subscriptions page.
'Tis the season to grab bargains: our Winter Sale now on! Whether you're looking for a great theatre read, an exciting new play by one of today's top writers, a book to help you develop your skills and advance your career, or the perfect gift for a theatre-lover, we've got the right deal for you.
From now until Thursday 28 November, all NHB-published titles* are available at HALF PRICE via our website, for 24 hours only.
And don't forget, you'll get free UK postage & packaging on all orders of £30 or over.
Head to our Winter Sale page to get inspired with some of our most recent highlights - and happy bargain-hunting!
The winners of the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2019 were announced on Sunday (24 November), with Sweat by Lynn Nottage taking home the prize for Best Play.
Nottage's topical drama, an examination of the American Dream focusing on struggling factory workers in one of the poorest cities in the US - had its UK premiere at the Donmar Warehouse, London, before transferring to the West End. Praised by Time Out as 'one of the great American plays', Sweat had previously won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
Elsewhere, legendary director and NHB author Peter Brook was named as the recipient of the Lebedev Award, given for his outstanding contribution to British theatre.
See the full list of winners at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards here.
Our new initiative Multiplay Drama has been shortlisted for Outstanding Drama Education Resource at the Music and Drama Education Awards.
Multiplay Drama is an exciting new series of large-cast plays, specifically written to be performed by and appeal to older teenagers and young adults.
Commissioned by some of the UK’s leading youth theatres and drama schools, and written by a mix of established writers and distinctive new voices, the plays explore a wide range of contemporary themes and theatrical styles, offering fascinating, complex perspectives on some of the most urgent issues facing our world today.
Ten Multiplay Drama plays are currently available, and extracts of all ten can be read for free via the Multiplay Drama website.
The annual Music and Drama Education Awards celebrate the extraordinary contribution made by professionals, companies, charities, schools and other organisations to the lives of others through the medium of these two key performing arts. The winners of the 2020 awards will be announced on 4 March.
The winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2019 was announced today (4 November), with NHB author Phoebe Eclair-Powell winning the top award for her play Shed: Exploded View.
Described by the writer as an “explosion in action”, Shed: Exploded View spans 30 years and sees three couples navigate family life, complex relationships and loss. As well as receiving £16,000, Eclair-Powell will work with the Royal Exchange Theatre’s creative team to develop the script.
There was also success for fellow NHB writer Stuart Slade, who won the Judges' Award for his script Glee & Me – a funny, honest, deeply moving monologue in which 16-year-old Lola charts her journey after being diagnosed with a rare, degenerative neurological condition.
The Bruntwood Prize is the biggest playwriting prize in Europe and offers the opportunity to writers of any background and experience to enter unperformed plays. Run in collaboration with the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, the biennial competition was launched in 2005 and has awarded more than £250,000 in prize money to 28 writers. 2019 saw the introduction of two new categories: the Original New Voice Award, a prize for debut plays; and the International Award, open to writers in Australia, Canada and the USA.
We're proud to have been the official Publishing Partners of the Bruntwood Prize since its inception in 2005. To date, we've published 13 former winners of the Prize, going on to ensure the plays have a life well beyond their original production.
PLEASE NOTE: applications for this role have now closed.
We're currently seeking a Designer and Production Editor to join the exciting, fast-moving production department of the UK’s leading independent publisher of plays and theatre books.
Applications are now open until 9 October. See more, visit our Jobs page.
In our new video, eight peers, friends and former students pay tribute to Stephen Jeffreys, his passion and knowledge, and the impact of his new book Playwriting.
Watch the video below. Thanks so much to our contributors – Simon Stephens, Annabel Arden, Roy Williams, Maeve McKeown, Alia Bano, April De Angelis, Molly Williams and Brad Birch – videographer Ben Hewis, and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates and the Royal Court Theatre for their assistance.
Less than a month after the conclusion of its critically acclaimed run in London’s West End, performing rights agents Nick Hern Books have today announced that hit play Emilia by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm is immediately available for performance by educational institutions.
First seen at Shakespeare’s Globe, Emilia is a passionate, riotous telling – performed by an all-female-identifying cast – of the story of 16th century poet Emilia Bassano, and her struggle to be heard. It was praised by The Times as ‘a firecracker of a play… a clever mix of history and revolution’ and described by the Guardian as ‘a highly theatrical piece brimming with wit and rage’.
Educational institutions interested in performing Emilia are invited to submit their application to the Performing Rights department at Nick Hern Books via email@example.com, or by calling 020 8749 4953. Amateur theatre groups are invited to register their interest for future productions, and will be notified when these rights become available.
Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, writer of Emilia:
‘I am so excited that the Nick Hern team have joined the Emilia familia! I can't wait to hear about and hopefully see some of the wonderful productions of our play all around the country. Emilia's joy and fire is for everyone; enjoy it!’
Tamara von Werthern, Performing Rights Manager at Nick Hern Books:
‘We’re absolutely delighted that Emilia is now available for educational performance. This play not only offers an exciting opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a brilliant, fun and empowering production, but also has an inspiring, important message about women in history that is bound to stimulate fascinating discussions in the classroom.’