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Kate Hewitt is first winner of new award for emerging directors

Kate Hewitt, winner of the RTST Director Award Kate Hewitt, winner of the RTST Director Award
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Kate Hewitt has won a new award for emerging directors at Sheffield Theatres, and will now stage a play there in 2017.

Hewitt – currently an associate director on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the West End – was named the inaugural winner of the Royal Theatrical Support Trust Director Award by judges including Ian McKellen, Penelope Wilton and Sheffield Theatres’ outgoing artistic director Daniel Evans.

Reacting to her win, Hewitt said it was an “enormous boost” for her career in a landscape where she claimed opportunities were “rare” for young directors “striving to make their mark in British theatre”.

The play she has chosen to direct is yet to be revealed, but will take place at the Crucible in spring 2017 – as part of new artistic director Robert Hastie’s first season.

Hewitt added that it was a “privilege” to be able to work at the “notoriously brilliant and vibrant” Crucible theatre, and said it would be a “pivotal moment” for her to be in the line-up of Hastie’s inaugural programme.

She was picked from a shortlist of seven directors, including Rebecca Frecknall, who was named runner-up.

All seven took part in workshops with actors in Sheffield, and underwent interviews with the judging panel as part of the RTST Director Award scheme.

Welcoming Hewitt as a “worthy winner”, McKellen said other emerging directors also needed help in “establishing their careers”.

“The standard of the finalists was hugely impressive and I relished the chance to watch them at work,” he said, adding that he hoped the scheme had encouraged all 97 applicants.

Evans praised the work of all the finalists, and said: “If the future of our theatre is partly in the hands of directors such as our applicants, then there are very exciting times ahead for us all.”

The RTST Director Award is run by the Royal Theatrical Support Trust in collaboration with Sheffield Theatres. An award ceremony will be held in London later this year.