The Stage Debut Awards 2017

The Stage Debut Awards are the only awards to recognise breakthrough theatre talent. They will celebrate emerging actors and creatives, from all backgrounds.

"These awards have the power to change everything for the recipients and accelerate their careers." David Grindrod, casting director

Nominations for The Stage Debut Awards 2017 are now closed.

The shortlist will be announced in August and the awards ceremony will be held in September.

1. The Stage critics 

The Stage's nationwide network of reviewers will identify actors and creatives making their debuts and put forward recommendations. 

2. Expert advisors

Representatives from across the UK will be sent the critics' longlist and asked for their input.


Best Actor in a Play

Best Actress in a Play sponsored by Pauline Quirke Academy at PQA Studios London

Best Actor in a Musical sponsored by Encore Radio

Best Actress in a Musical sponsored by The Other Palace

Best Director sponsored by See Tickets

Best Designer sponsored by Robe

Best Composer sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment Group

Best Writer

The Joe Allen Best West End Debut

Definition of debut: first professional appearance in a named role (previous appearances in ensemble roles or as an understudy do not disqualify you from consideration).

To be eligible for The Stage Debut Awards you must meet the following conditions:

  • Nominees must be 16 years old and over.
  • Nominees debuts must have been reviewed by The Stage.
  • Child actors who have come back to performing later in life are eligible.
  • Nominees must have made their debuts in the UK.
  • Debuts in shows during Edinburgh Festival Fringe will not be considered for these awards, but are eligible for The Stage Edinburgh Awards. Prior appearances at Edinburgh Fringe do not disqualify you from eligibility for The Stage Debut Awards.
  • Actors and creatives who have previously worked in other media, e.g. TV and film, are eligible.
  • Nominees can be of any nationality.
  • The Best West End Debut category covers all West End debuts including performers, composers, writers, directors and designers. West End is defined as SOLT theatres
  • For the first year, anyone who has made a debut and is performing on stage between September 1, 2016 to July 28, 2017 can be nominated e.g. actor who made debut in May 2016 but still performing in same role in 2017 can be nominated. From the second year, the first debut performance must take place within the calendar year
  • For any queries on eligibility please contact The Stage reviews editor, natasha[@]
  • The Stage's decision is final.

September 2016 to June 2017

The Stage critics submit recommendations for nominees.

June 2017

National assessors give input.

September 17, 2017 

The Stage Debut Awards Ceremony.

July 2017

Judging panel meets.

August 2017

Shortlist announced and Best West End Debut category opened to public vote.


The Stage Debut Awards ceremony will be held on Sunday September 17, 2017 at 8 Northumberland Avenue, London.

Award categoriesJudging processTimelineEligibility

The Stage Debut Awards is part of The Stage Supports, a series of groundbreaking interventions launched by The Stage with a range of industry partners, all with one aim: to nurture on and offstage talent in theatre and the performing arts.

Find out more
The awards are part of The Stage Supports – dedicated to nurturing, celebrating and sustaining talent in the performing arts. 

If you have any other questions about The Stage Debut Awards or The Stage Supports please email  marketing[@]


We have a range of attractive sponsorship packages available for The Stage Debut Awards, if you would like to get involved please email commercial director Simon Hassell on simon[@]


For any press enquiries relating to The Stage Debut Awards email marketing manager Rachel Scott on rachel[@]

Find out moreAmbassadors

This prestigious award is run by The Actors Centre, in association with The Stage Supports, and recognises the best drama school graduate every year. This year it will be presented at The Stage Debut Awards 2017.



The Stage Supports has five key ambassadors, who offer experience and insight from all areas of the performing arts.

Noma Dumezweni

Olivier award-winning actor

“I am very much looking forward to celebrating the next generation of actors at The Stage Debut Awards later this year."

Michael Grandage

Olivier and Tony-winning director

“I am excited to join The Stage Supports, so we can work together to support even more young people to thrive in our industry."

Sonia Friedman

Multi-Olivier award-winning producer 

“I am delighted to champion The Stage Supports. It is vital that we all shout about the creative opportunities and training available to safeguard a vital, strong industry for future generations."

David Grindrod

Casting director for Matilda and School of Rock

“The Debut Awards have the power to change everything for the recipients and accelerate their careers."

Preeya Kalidas

Actor: currently starring in School of Rock 

“The Stage Supports has initiatives that support and grow you as an actress and can really make a difference to your career."



Find out more about The Stage Supports


Click the logos for more information



4. The public vote

The West End debut shortlist will be decided by the judging panel. The shortlist will then be put to a public vote.

The range of industry advisors giving their input and recommendations includes:

Danielle Tarento, producer
David Grindrod, casting director
David Jubb, BAC
Es Devlin, designer
Hannah Miller, Royal Shakespeare Company
James Grieve, Paines Plough
Jenny Sealey, Graeae
Jimmy Fay, Belfast Lyric
Laura Donnelly, National Theatre of Scotland
Madani Younis, Bush Theatre

Michael Grandage, director
Noma Dumezweni, actor
Paule Constable, designer
Pravesh Kumar, Rifco
Preeya Kalidas, actor
Sam Hodges, Nuffield Southampton Theatres
Sonia Friedman, producer
Tom Morris, Bristol Old Vic
Wendy Spon, National Theatre

3. Judging panel

Final decisions on both the shortlist and winners will be taken by our judging panel:

Natasha Tripney ⚬ Mark Shenton 

Lyn Gardner ⚬ Sam Marlowe 

Alistair Smith