As winner, Chelsea will now get the unique opportunity to direct a full-scale, fully-funded production of a classic play, to be co-produced by Nuffield Southampton Theatres, English Touring Theatre (ETT) and Theatr Clwyd in 2018. The production, which will run from March to June, will premiere in the main house of NST’s new city-centre theatre, NST City, before going on a tour of the main houses of theatres across the UK, concluding with a run in the Anthony Hopkins Theatre at Theatr Clwyd.
After a successful national call-out for entries, Chelsea was one of 7 finalists selected by a prestigious Selection Panel to demonstrate their directing skills in workshops and a final interview stage. The selection panel comprised: chair Sam Hodges (Director at Nuffield Southampton Theatres), Howard Brenton, Tamara Harvey (Artistic Director at Theatr Clywd), Patricia Hodge, Stephanie Street, Richard Twyman (Artistic Director at English Touring Theatre), and Danny Lee Wynter.
Winner, Chelsea Walker said: "I’m thrilled to have won the RTST Award, and I’m really grateful for their support as I make this next step in my career. These platforms for young directors are rare and invaluable. I feel very lucky to be given the opportunity to work with the brilliant NST, ETT and Theatr Clwyd. The process of applying for the award forces you to be rigorous and interrogate the kind of work you want to make. I’d like to thank the RTST, Sam Hodges, Tamara Harvey, Richard Twyman and the wonderful, welcoming panel for making the process so warm and invigorating."
The 2017 scheme supports the RTST mission as a charity dedicated to promoting theatre and drama. Chairman of the RTST, Sir Geoffrey Cass, said: “The RTST Director Award had 7 finalists of the very highest quality, selected from a strong field of 50 candidates. Two full days of workshops, at which the 7 finalists had to direct professional actors, observed by our very experienced panel of judges, followed by interviews, were a thorough test of their directing skills. The prize was a unique opportunity to direct a production, which would be staged by Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Theatr Clwyd, and English Touring Theatre. The collaboration of the RTST with these three companies has admirably achieved encouragement of emerging theatre professionals and the promotion of regional theatre - two of the Trust’s primary objectives”.
Mark Hawes, Deputy Chairman of the RTST, said: “RTST Director Award winner Chelsea Walker is demonstrably a director to watch, and NST City – Southampton's sleek, new-build led by Sam Hodges - will definitely be a theatre to watch. We’re thrilled to be the catalyst for Chelsea’s launch into mid-scale, main-house directing as part of NST City’s first year programme – and for Nuffield Southampton Theatres’ co-production with English Touring Theatre and Theatr Clwyd, which will propel a national tour of a re-imagined classic directed by Chelsea. Exciting times ahead for British regional theatre”.
Samuel Hodges, Director at Nuffield Southampton Theatres, said: “It was an unbridled pleasure watching seven of the country's future directing stars generously share their process and ideas with us. Chelsea blew us away with her insight, openness and skill and she was a unanimous winner. I can't wait to work together and for audiences across Britain to see what she can do.”
Chelsea Walker directed the first major revival of Low Level Panic by Clare McIntyre at the Orange Tree earlier this year. Her previous directing credits include P’yongyang by In-Sook Chappell and Chicken Dust by Ben Weatherill (Finborough), Klippies by Jess Sian (Southwark Playhouse) and Lean by Isley Lynn (Tristan Bates). She has also assistant directed on Wild by Mike Bartlett (Hampstead Theatre), Routes by Rachel de-lahay (Royal Court), and The Little Mermaid, adapted by Joel Horwood (Bristol Old Vic). She was a runner up in the JMK Young Directors’ Award 2016, is a director on the Old Vic 12, and is a script reader for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.