A professional development award for emerging theatre makers and directors

The John Fernald Award

This Award was set up in 1988 in honour of the late Theatre Director and RADA Principal John Fernald, with the aim of funding or part-funding a maximum of two successful applicants in directing a play or site-specific event. A total of £5K is distributed annually.

  • The award has been pivotal in my development as a director. I have experienced my first professional and paid position, picked up a variety of new skills to take forward into the future, and have been introduced to pool of creatives who have been beyond generous with guidance and support.

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  • The John Fernald Emerging Director Award has assisted my project development immensely by taking the proposed piece of immersive opera through to the final stages of the Sky Arts Scholarship, bringing weight to my application to workshop with Mahogany Opera, and in establishing myself with a full time theatre making role at The Truman Brewery’s new Juju’s Bar and Stage venue where I will continue to develop the style of theatre I’m developing form an in-house position.

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  • The John Fernald Award enabled me to work with the company Paines Plough which has been a vital relationship in my development as a director. I was and still am supported and inspired by Paines Plough to make theatre. The John Fernald Award was the catalyst for me to work with this company and learn the craft through assisting James Grieve on WASTED by Kate Tempest, creating new important relationships with playwrights I now collaborate with. 

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  • Being awarded the John Fernald Award helped me work on The Ghost Train at the Royal Exchange Theatre with Told By An Idiot. Since receiving the award I went on to become a finalist in the Regional Young Theatre Directors Scheme in 2015 and became a board member of Stage Directors UK. The award has helped me establish myself within my chosen career path and I’m thankful for such schemes like this that don’t judge suitability on age.

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  • The John Fernald Award gave me the fantastic opportunity of being on attachment at Birmingham Rep.  There, I learnt how to set up emerging artists projects, I got an insight into how a regional theatre is run, and I had the opportunity to work in ways that were completely new to me to create a new piece of work.  It definitely helped equip me to go on to be Director on Attachment at Clean Break and Literary Associate at Talawa Theatre Company. 

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Who is eligible?

Theatre makers and directors from the UK or Republic of Ireland with some professional experience in the field.

Professional theatres may also apply on behalf of a director they wish to hire.


Please submit your application by 28th February 2020.

Applications are open from January and the Award is chosen annually in March.

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If you are applying independently as a theatre maker or director, you will need to submit:

  • A one page personal  statement which must include the answer to the following two questions:
    • Please indicate how the monies would be used to develop your directing skill set
    • Please outline specifically how the monies would be spent, noting that the purpose of the award is to assist the person, not the project
  • A two page outline of the project
  • A preliminary one page budget top sheet
  • Two letters of recommendations from a theatre practitioner or a member of a University or accredited Drama School in support of their application.  Please note that these letters must be sent under separate cover, unseen by the applicant
  • A current CV
  • A signed consent form


If you are a professional theatre who is applying on behalf of a director you wish to hire, you will need to submit:

  • A letter of support from the theatre
  • An outline of the project
  • A contract demonstrating the financial terms and time period of the engagement
  • A personal statement from the director
  • The director’s current CV
  • The Theatre’s most recent company accounts
  • A signed consent form


Please send by email to:

John Fernald Award c/o Equity Charitable Trust



  • If shortlisted, you may be required to travel to London for an interview
  • Preference is given to first time applicants
  • Applicants must have a minimum of two years professional experience as a theatre practitioner, or be a graduate from a University or an accredited Drama School
  • Applications for Fringe or touring shows are also considered