The Stage Debut Awards will return on 27 September 2020 as a virtual ceremony. Presented in association with Access Entertainment, the awards celebrate the very best breakthrough talent in theatre. Any actors, directors, designers, writers, composers or lyricists who have made their professional debuts between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020 in productions reviewed by The Stage are eligible.
Editor of The Stage, Alistair Smith, said: “2020 has been an extremely difficult year for everyone in theatre, but it has been especially difficult for those looking to establish their careers in a sector that has been decimated by lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic.
“Now, more than ever, we felt it was crucially important to continue to celebrate and champion emerging talent and ensure we can rebuild the best version of our sector possible. Theatre must continue to support and nurture talent from all backgrounds – the current crisis will make it increasingly challenging to enter and sustain a career in the theatre industry.
“We are especially grateful to all our fantastic sponsors who – in difficult times – understood why these awards are so important. We are very excited to be celebrating the achievements of our winners and nominees this year at a free virtual ceremony, which would not have been possible without our sponsors’ generous support.
“So, wherever you are in the world, we invite you all to join us as we recognise an outstanding selection of professional debuts with The Stage Debut Awards.”
The awards ceremony will be streamed on The Stage’s Facebook page at 7pm on 27 September and on The Stage website.
The categories for 2020 are:
- Best Actress in a Play, sponsored by Audible
- Best Actor in a Play, sponsored by Audible
- Best Actress in a Musical
- Best Actor in a Musical
- Best Director, sponsored by Smith & Williamson
- Best Designer, sponsored by Robe Lighting
- Best Composer or Lyricist
- Best Writer
- Best West End Debut Performer, sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment Group
- Best Creative West End Debut, sponsored by the Noël Coward Foundation
The Stage’s nationwide team of critics has been submitting recommendations for the longlist since August 2019, but eligible performers and creatives, and the general public are encouraged to suggest nominees for consideration online until 31 July 2020.
The judging panel will assess all categories and provide a shortlist, which will be announced on 13 August. The panel will then decide a winner in all categories except the Best West End Debut Award. This is the only category decided by a public vote. Voting will be available from 13-26 August. This award celebrates a performer’s first appearance in London’s West End.
Previous winners of The Stage Debut Awards have gone on to land Olivier nominations, create big-budget BBC dramas, and have been cast in leading roles in a variety of West End shows including Hamilton and & Juliet.