We're sorry to hear of the death of stage designer and NHB author Ralph Koltai, who has passed away at the age of 94.
In an obituary for The Stage, Michael Quinn calls Ralph 'the most influential stage designer in British theatre in the second half of the last century. In a career spanning seven decades, he designed more than 250 productions for ballet, opera and theatre in which he wrenched stage imagery away from moribund domestic pictorialism towards a modern and often controversial abstract aesthetic championed by European theatremakers.'
Ralph's book Ralph Koltai: Designer for the Stage, published in 2004 to mark his 80th birthday, is a stunning full-colour record of his work over half a century, featuring models and production shots of over 30 of Koltai's shows interlaced with essays by and interviews with Koltai, his collaborators and fellow designers. RIP.
What an exciting and historic year 2018 has been for us at Nick Hern Books! We celebrated our 30th Anniversary, hosted the inaugural Amateur Theatre Fest where we were joined by hundreds of passionate amateur theatre-makers for workshops and talks with leading names such as Mike Bartlett, Amanda Whittington and Jez Butterworth, and we've published more fantastic books and plays than ever before.
We know that you've been incredibly busy yourselves, as we've licensed thousands of performances of Nick Hern Books plays over the past 12 months! We can't wait to see the brilliant work you come up with next year, but for now let's take a look back and get inspired by our Top 10 Most-Performed Plays of 2018.
1. Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale
Holding the top spot for the second year running, 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
2. Blue Stockings by Jessica Swale
Jessica Swale holds the top two places in this list of exceptional plays to perform. 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
3. Ladies' Day by Amanda Whittington
This is the first of three fantastic, female-led plays on this list by Amanda Whittington. 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
4. 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
5. 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 fourth 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
6. Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
Jez Butterworth's hugely acclaimed powerhouse of a play won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and the Critics' Circle Award and WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Play. Jerusalem offers an outstanding lead role for a male performer, and an energetic cast of characters for a company of 14, plus a few chickens. 'Unarguably one of the best dramas of the twenty-first century' Guardian
7. Arabian Nights by Dominic Cooke
A simple and delightfully inventive re-telling of the stories from the Arabian Nights, with an original music score by Gary Yershon that can also be licensed for performance. Dominic Cooke's enchanting Arabian Nights was originally produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been hugely popular with amateur companies ever since. 'A truly magical piece of theatre that delights all the senses' WhatsOnStage
8. Handbagged by Moira Buffini
Opening the clasp on the antipathy between two giants of the twentieth century, Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher, Handbagged speculates on the relationship between these very powerful and private women. Brilliantly funny, and featuring two exceptional roles for female performers, this text is available as both a full-length and a one-act play. 'Hilarious and moving... raises serious questions about the balance of power' Guardian
9. Be My Baby by Amanda Whittington
Forcibly sent to a Mother-and-Baby Home, Mary has to cope with the dawning realisation that she will have to give her baby up for adoption whether she likes it or not. This poignant and moving drama about attitudes to teenage pregnancy in 1960s Britain is our most-performed all-female play this year. 'Immensely touching' The Times
10. 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
Take a look at more of our popular titles over on our Most Performed page, rounding up our Top 20 Plays to Perform. From Mike Bartlett's award-winning future history play King Charles III, to Sam Steiner's beautiful dystopian rom-com Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, to Ladies Down Under, Amanda Whittington's heart-warming sequel to Ladies' Day, 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 of the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 were announced yesterday (18 November), with NHB author Natasha Gordon named Most Promising Playwright for her play Nine Night.
A touching and very funny exploration of the rituals of family, Nine Night unfolds over the course of a traditional Jamaican Nine Night wake. It premiered at the National Theatre in April 2018 and transfers to Trafalgar Studios in December, making Natasha the first female black British playwright to have a play staged in the West End.
You can see the full list of winners here.
On 22 November, we're publishing Sunrise - the acclaimed new show by actress, comedian, writer and doodler Jessie Cave, which has enjoyed hit runs in Edinburgh and London, and will tour the UK in 2019.
Sunrise is an honest, tender-hearted and uproariously funny story about crying in the woods, sexual accidents, Harry Potter conventions and Instagram espionage – but also about motherhood and trying to get stuff done. The published edition also includes dozens of full-colour, never-before-seen doodles by Jessie.
Order Sunrise via our website today and you'll receive a set of free exclusive postcards – featuring Jessie's doodles from the book – with every copy! This offer is exclusively available to qualifying purchases made via the Nick Hern Books website, while stocks last.
To order your copy and claim your postcards, click here.
NHB author Andrew Thompson has won Best Writer at the The Stage Debut Awards, for his play In Event of Moone Disaster.
Winner of the 2016 Theatre503 Playwriting Award, In Event of Moone Disaster premiered at Theatre503, London, in 2017. This poignant and quirkily funny play tracks the adventures of three extraordinary women spanning 80 years, against the backdrop of humanity’s journey into space.
Also nominated for Best Writer were NHB authors Georgia Christou for Yous Two, Natasha Gordon for Nine Night and Joe White for Mayfly.
The Stage Debut Awards celebrate emerging theatre talent from across the UK, and were presented for a second year at a ceremony in central London on 23 September 2018. To take a look at the full list of winners, visit The Stage.
We're greatly saddened to learn of the passing of celebrated playwright, dedicated mentor and cherished NHB author Stephen Jeffreys.
Here, publisher Nick Hern remembers the man he called an author and a friend:
'My relationship with Stephen dates back thirty years, initially as his publisher, latterly as a friend. A nicer man and all-round gent you couldn’t hope to meet. Also a brilliant and inspiring teacher.
Having sat in on one of his famous writing workshops at the Royal Court, I immediately commissioned him to write a book. That was twenty years ago, but whenever we met in the intervening years – usually at Royal Court press nights with him in his trademark hat – he would assure me that progress was being made. When he got ill, progress suddenly became a matter of urgency.
The book was still incomplete – though in its final stages – when he died, and his friends and colleagues and above all his widow Annabel Arden are striving to complete it. Playwriting – Structure; Character; How and What to Write will be published in the next few months to sit alongside a volume of collected plays which came out in July.
Dear Stephen: he will be much missed by this country’s playwriting community as well as, of course, by audiences of the brilliant plays he wrote, and those – tragically – he never got to write.'
The nominees for the UK Theatre Awards 2018 were announced today (14 September), with NHB-published productions featured across a number of categories.
Gut by Frances Poet is nominated for Best New Play. A taut psychological thriller that asks: who can be trusted with our children – and is it more dangerous not to trust at all? - it was first produced at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in association with the National Theatre of Scotland.
The Assassination of Katie Hopkins by Chris Bush and Matt Winkworth is shortlisted for Best Musical Production. This smart, satirical musical about truth, celebrity and public outrage premiered at Theatr Clwyd, Mold, in April 2018, directed by James Grieve.
The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide Awards to honour and celebrate outstanding achievements in regional theatre throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This year’s winners will be announced on Sunday 14 October 2018.
For more about the UK Theatre Awards, including the full lists of this year's nominee, visit their website.
The new academic year is upon us – and thanks to our Back to School Sale, you can get all the books you need to learn new skills, or brush up on old ones, at great discounted prices.
From now until the end of September, you can save 30% on thirty of our top titles for actors, students and teachers, when you enter voucher code BACKTOSCHOOL at checkout. Plus, get free UK postage and packaging on all orders over £30.
To take advantage of the offer, head to our Back to School Sale page, make your picks and enter discount code BACKTOSCHOOL at checkout. This offer ends 30 September 2018.
★★★★★ - One of the finest achievements of the Royal Shakespeare Company in recent years… an exhilarating and timely political drama' Guardian
'★★★★★ - The sheer scale of the enterprise inspires awe' WhatsOnStage
'★★★★ - Strikingly relevant. A must-see drama' The Times
Cicero, the greatest orator of his age, devotes all his energy and cunning to preserve the rule of law, and defend Rome’s Republic against the predatory attacks of political rivals, discontented aristocrats, and would-be military dictators.
Imperium is a backstage view of Ancient Rome at its most bloody and brutal, told through the eyes of Tiro, Cicero’s loyal secretary.
Adapted by Mike Poulton from Robert Harris’s bestselling The Cicero Trilogy, Imperium is an epic event comprising six plays presented in two performances. The acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production is currently playing at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End until 8 September 2018. Find out more about the productions here.
To celebrate the hit West End transfer, we've teamed up with the production team to offer one lucky winner the chance to receive a pair of tickets to Part I or Part II for any performances, excluding Saturdays, between now and the end of August, at the Gielgud Theatre, London (subject to availability), plus a copy of the playscript.
To enter our exciting competition, click here.
August is almost upon us, which can mean only one thing: it's nearly time for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival. Every year for three weeks, the Scottish capital finds itself at the absolute epicentre of the arts world – and NHB is proud to publish some of the very best theatre on offer at both festivals in 2018.
So to celebrate our line-up, we're offering you 30% off all of the plays we're publishing at Edinburgh 2018. To claim this discount, browse the full line-up and enter code NHBEDINBURGH18 at checkout when ordering via this website. This offer is valid until 31 August 2018. Don't miss out!