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Paapa Essiedu wins 2016 Ian Charleson award

Paapa Essiedu in Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo: Tristram Kenton Paapa Essiedu in Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Paapa Essiedu has won the 2016 Ian Charleson award for his performances in Hamlet and King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The awards celebrate actors under the age of 30 performing in a classical role. They are given in memory of Charleson, who died in 1991.

Essiedu has won the main prize for his performance in the title role of Hamlet, the first black actor to play the part for the RSC.

He was also honoured for his role as Edmund in King Lear for the company.

Essiedu took home the first prize of £5,000, beating a shortlist of actors that included Jessica Brown Findlay, who won the second prize of £2,000, and Fisayo Akinade, who was awarded third prize, winning £500.

Brown Findlay was recognised for her performance as Sonya in Uncle Vanya at the Almeida and Akinade for Saint Joan at the Donmar Warehouse.

The shortlist also included James Corrigan, Emma Curtis, Marcus Griffiths, Felicity Huxley-Miners, Francesca Mills, Marc Rhys, Natalie Simpson, Ewan Somers, Marli Siu, Joanna Vanderham and Paksie Vernon.

The awards were presented at a ceremony at the National Theatre.

Last year’s winner was James McArdle, with other recent winners including Susannah Fielding and Jack Lowden.