The winners of the Off-West End Awards 2019 were announced yesterday (3 February), with NHB authors and plays triumphing in a number of categories.
Br'er Cotton by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm was named Best New Play. The story of Ruffrino, a fourteen-year-old struggling to make sense of his place in an America filled with seemingly random killings of young black men, it was described by the Guardian as 'an important play, and a great one'. Br'er Cotton had its UK premiere at Theatre503, London, in March 2018.
Most Promising New Playwright was awarded to Joe White for his debut play Mayfly. Joe's ethereal family drama which explores rebirth in the aftermath of tragedy premiered at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, in April 2018, where the Evening Standard praised it as 'a triumph'.
Misty, written and performed by Arinzé Kene, won Best Performance Piece. An inventive blend of gig theatre, spoken word, live art and direct address, which takes the audience on an epic, lyrical journey through the pulsating heart and underground soul of inner-city London, Misty premiered at the Bush Theatre, London, in March 2018, before transferring to Trafalgar Studios in the West End in September.
Elsewhere, the Bush Theatre's revival of Leave Taking by Winsome Pinnock picked up two acting prizes: Female Performance in a Play (Sarah Niles) and Best Male Performance in a Supporting Role in a Play (Wil Johnson).
The Off-West End Awards, affectionately known as the 'Offies', recognise work created in off-West End venues across London with a team of assessors and super assessors seeing shows before winners are decided by a panel of judges. In total, over 400 shows across 80 venues were judged throughout 2018.
For the full list of winners and nominees, click here.
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.
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.
Our annual Edinburgh Fringe Report is out now and available here. This year, four intrepid amateur companies performing plays licensed by Nick Hern Books tell us what led to their choice of plays and what they’re hoping to get out of the Fringe.
The productions featured in this year's Fringe Report are: Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wells, performed by Kite in the Storm Theatre; Freak by Anna Jordan, performed by Bullet Theatre, How My Light Is Spent by Alan Harris, presented by Aaron Kilercioglu; and Antigone by Sophocles, adapted by Owen McCafferty, performed by Amplify Time Productions.
Thank you to those companies for their contribution, and to all the other companies who are performing Nick Hern Books plays at the Fringe this year!
We're delighted to announce Amateur Theatre Fest: an exciting, brand-new, full-day event of workshops, talks and performances.
On Saturday 8 September 2018, join hundreds of other passionate amateur theatre-makers at The Questors Theatre, Ealing, West London, for a day-long programme that gives you the opportunity to:
- ENJOY a celebration of the UK’s incredible amateur theatre scene, and a chance to network with hundreds of fellow theatre-makers
- LEARN skills for your own productions, with expert workshops on design, auditions, directing, singing, stage combat, voice, performing Shakespeare, marketing and more
For full information about the day, visit the Amateur Theatre Fest website.
Tickets to Amateur Theatre Fest go on sale at 12 noon on Tuesday 8 May. They'll initially be available at a special, time-limited Early Bird rate of £25 for individuals and £100 for groups of five. So spread the word, round up some friends, and come along to what promises to be a brilliant day.
Places at Amateur Theatre Fest are strictly limited, so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.
Here at Nick Hern Books we're proud to work with so many talented and ambitious amateur theatre companies who license and perform the brilliant plays we publish. And as we celebrate our thirtieth anniversary in 2018, we can't wait to meet and celebrate with lots of you on 8 September. See you there!