At Theatre Centre we run a series of national awards celebrating and recognising great playwriting and acting talents in the field of Young People’s Theatre.

"Theatre Centre helped me find my writer's voice. Nothing excites me more than when I am writing a play for them."

Roy Williams

"Watching 100s of teenagers react to Layla's Room in their own school hall was one of the most exciting moments of my professional life. Theatre Centre present a rare and precious opportunity to take brilliantly produced theatre to young people all over the country, often challenging their perspectives and in turn being challenged by their feedback and responses."

Sabrina Mahfouz

Afsaneh Gray wins The Brian Way Award

Theatre Centre is pleased to announce Afsaneh Gray has won the Brian Way Award.

Following a national call out for treatments on the theme of ‘Treaty’ to mark the Treaty of Versailles centenary, Gray’s play has been commissioned for Theatre Centre’s flagship national tour of schools and venues in 2019.

Afsaneh Gray said:
"I'm thrilled to win the Brian Way Award. Writing for young people is one of my passions, and I can't wait to work with Theatre Centre on a play that I hope will include secondary school students in some of today’s big debates. At a time of great political change, many young people don’t have a vote, despite being the future of this country – I believe theatre can play a role in at least giving them a voice.”

Named in honour of Theatre Centre’s founder Brian Way, the award welcomed submissions for plays suitable for young people aged 13 and over, with the company keen to create new relationships with writers excited to write for children and young people.

Natalie Wilson, Theatre Centre’s Artistic Director said:
“When we relaunched the Brian Way Award, we hoped to inspire writers to come up with adventurous and unorthodox ideas. Afsaneh’s writing does just that and her treatment for ‘Stranger’ confronts an urgent and universal challenge about how we live with borders in all their forms. Her theatricality and explicit political objective will be not only exciting but vital in galvanising debate and questions about how we want our future to be shaped.

As the government shuts the door to Europe, it’s more important than ever that we tell stories which imagine, navigate and hope for a united future. Touring this work into schools has never been so critical. When we take our productions into schools, that’s when all young people, no matter where they live and no matter their circumstances, get to experience the transformative power of live theatre”.

Most recently, Gray’s play Octopus, a satire about what it means to be British, premiered at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe before transferring to Theatre503 and then onto a national UK tour.

Gray has been a member of the Orange Tree Writers Collective, the Royal Court Studio Group and the Soho Young Writers’ Group. She is currently a member of the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writers’ Group and is under commission by the Unicorn Theatre.

Having commissioned over 250 plays for children and young people, Theatre Centre has been a pioneer and sector leader in new writing for young audiences for over 65 years. Theatre Centre previously ran the Brian Way Award for Best New Play for young audiences from 2006 to 2013, with winners including Evan Placey, Douglas Maxwell and Tim Crouch.

The Brian Way Award Shortlist
Afsaneh Gray was selected as the winner of the Brian Way Award from a final shortlist of 4 other writers. These were:

Ross Dunsmore
Ross’ play Milk premiered at the Traverse Theatre as their flagship production of the Edinburgh Festival 2016, receiving the Tom Erhardt Award.

Daniel Foxsmith
Daniel was shortlisted for the 2017 Bruntwood Prize. He is a member of the Orange Tree Writer’s Collective 2017 and Artistic Director of Snuff Box Theatre.

Gbemisola Ikumelo
Gbemisola is an actress, writer and director and has a written for both stage and screen, including commissions for BBC Comedy and the Barbican Centre.

Lydia Marchant
Lydia is a Hull Truck Theatre Supported Artist. She has participated in writer development schemes including at West Yorkshire Playhouse, National Theatre & Soho Theatre.






Previous Theatre Centre Awards

Details of the previous winners of Theatre Centre’s three awards, the Brian Way Award for Best New Play, the Adrienne Benham Award and the Dorothy L. Sayers Award can be found below.

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Theatre Centre's relationship with Dorothy L Sayers goes back to the very start. In 1953, Brian Way - Theatre Centre's founder - wished to produce an adaptation of Ms Sayers' radio series The Man Born To Be King as the first production by the fledgling company. The production was so well received by Ms Sayers that she joined the management committee and financed the company for its first year.

Now, some sixty or so years later, the Dorothy L Sayers Society annually supports young performers with the Dorothy L Sayers Award - given to actors whose first job out of drama school is in a Theatre Centre production.

This year's winner is Imogen Rose, who appeared in last year's production of What The Thunder Said. Imogen accepted the award from Ms Seona Ford, the Dorothy L Sayers Society chair, following a performance of The Muddy Choir at Redbridge Drama Centre.

We thank the Dorothy L Sayers Society for their continuing support of young actors and Theatre Centre's work, and wish Imogen all the best in her career!

Previous winners:

2013: Adrian Richards / Matt Bradley-Robinson
2012: Geraint Rhys Edwards
2011: [no award]
2010: Clare Chater
2009: Michael Lyle
2008: Rob Solar
2007: Sam Donovan
2006: Marcy Oni

BRIAN WAY AWARD 2013: Winner announced

Playwright Danny Braverman won the £6,000 Brian Way Award 2013 for Wot? No fish!! The award promotes the achievements of playwrights who write for young audiences. The prize money is intended to give the winner the time and space to develop a new play without the pressure of deadlines or a commissioning brief.

Wot? No fish!! is a play for ages 12+ produced by bread&circuses. It tells the funny and moving story of how the playwright discovered the lost art of his great-uncle Ab, and is billed as “an extraordinary story about love, art, history… and catering.”

“This play changes the expectations of what Theatre for Young Audiences can be and the stories it can tell. It’s beautiful, poignant and funny, and I’m proud that we are able to recognise it with this award in the name of Theatre Centre’s founder, Brian Way.” Natalie Wilson, Artistic Director, Theatre Centre

Some of the most prominent theatre writers working in the UK today judged the award: Bryony Lavery (whose plays include Her Aching Heart and Frozen), Sabrina Mahfouz (currently the Cape Farewell poet in residence), Janice Okoh (winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2011), Evan Placey (winner of the Brian Way Award 2012) and Roy Williams OBE (whose plays include Sucker Punch and Sing Your Heart Out for the Lads).

Danny Braveman was selected from a shortlist of six playwrights, which also included:

  • Naomi Cortes for The Littlest Quirky (produced by Theatre Centre)
  • Kevin Dyer for Angel (produced by Theatre Hullabaloo)
  • Philip Ridley for Feathers in the Snow (produced by Southwark Playhouse)
  • Nicky Singer for Island (produced by the National Theatre)
  • Rebecca Prichard for Parallax (produced by the Almeida Theatre)

Danny Braverman has been a writer, director, teacher and performer in education and community settings for thirty years. He has worked companies including Theatre Royal Stratford East, Theatre Centre, London Bubble, the National Theatre and Graeae. Until 2011, Danny was Director of The Orpheus Centre. His book Playing a Part: Drama and Citizenship (Trentham Books, 2002) is widely used by teachers and other arts practitioners and he is part-time Lecturer in Applied Theatre at Goldsmiths. Danny recently re-formed bread&circuses, a company originally created in 1983, with fellow originator Director Nick Philippou.

Previous winners of the Brian Way Award*

  • 2012 Evan Placey for Holloway Jones (Synergy Theatre Project) 
  • 2011 Keith Saha for Ghost Boy (20 Stories High)
  • 2010 Laurence Wilson for Blackberry Trout Face (20 Stories High) 
  • 2009 Douglas Maxwell for The Mothership (Birmingham Repertory Theatre) 
  • 2008 David Greig for Yellow Moon (TAG) 
  • 2008 Fin Kennedy (runner-up) for Locked In (Half Moon Theatre Company) 
  • 2007 Tim Crouch for Shopping for Shoes (National Theatre Education Department) 
  • 2007 Deborah Gearing (runner-up) for Burn (Shell Connections) 
  • 2006 Neil Duffield for The Lost Warrior (Dukes Theatre, Lancaster) 
  • 2005 Abi Bown for Hey There Boy with the Bebop (Polka Theatre) 
  • 2004 Charles Way for Red Red Shoes (Unicorn Theatre) 
  • 2003 Phil Porter for Smashed Eggs (Pentabus Theatre) 
  • 2002 Brendan Murray for Eliza’s House (Royal Exchange) 
  • 2001 Mike Kenny for Stepping Stones (Interplay) 

*funded by Arts Council England 2001-2007

ADRIENNE BENHAM AWARD 2013: Winner announced

The winner of the Adrienne Benham Award 2013 was Lou Ramsden. Theatre Centre offers the Adrienne Benham Award, a £2,000 seed commission, to support the work of a promising playwright interested in exploring the Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) sector to develop brilliant new plays for young people, but who has little experience in this field. This award is intended to steer gifted writers towards young audiences by giving them a seed commission and attachment to Theatre Centre to develop an original idea for young audiences.

Lou Ramsden’s plays have received productions and staged readings at the Soho Theatre, Young Vic, Birmingham Rep, Edinburgh Fringe, and Latitude festival.  Last year she was on attachment to the Royal Court, and part of their invitation-only Supergroup. In 2011 her play Hundreds and Thousands was produced at Soho Theatre, and her play Breed was shortlisted for both the Meyer Whitworth and Critics’ Circle Awards.  In 2010 she completed an attachment at the National Theatre, and was a member of the first 503Five group at Theatre503.  Her plays are published by Nick Hern Books.

Previous winners include Kenneth Emson (2012), Marcelo Dos Santos (2011), Paula B. Stanic (2010) and Steven Bloomer (2009).

Theatre Centre is grateful to the following organisations for their support of the Adrienne Benham Award: Arts Depot, Catherine Wheels, Half Moon, Little Angel Theatre, M6 Theatre, New Perspectives, Polka Theatre, Theatre Hullabaloo, the Unicorn Theatre, Tutti Frutti, Big Brum Theatre, Company of Angels and Visible Fictions.