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East 15 Acting School students studying on the 3-year Contemporary Theatre course present seven new plays by new playwrights with their acting students each year called Debut Festival. The King's Head Theatre Artistic Director and Associates will attend all seven plays and choose two to transfer into the King's Head for a further performance.

This performance will give the two new plays a further platform for development and feedback from audience and professional theatre-makers, with the new works being seen by more agents, theatre practitioners and audiences; and will celebrate and promote the work of these students, some of whom will be the creative leaders and stars of British theatre of the future.

The award is called the King's Head Theatre & East 15 Stella Wilkie Debut Award (or Stella, for short). It is hoped that in years to come the award will grow and allow the winner a longer run at the King’s Head and an even bigger platform, but we are delighted to be able to be involved at this initial stage with a gala, exclusive, one-night only performance.

Stella Wilkie, after whom the award is named, was a British and Australian actress, scientist, dramaturg, critic and writer. She passed away on 30 January 2013 at the age of 88. Artistic Director of the King's Head, Adam Spreadbury-Maher, said in naming the award, "Stella was somebody who saw the germ of an idea or talent in someone and did everything she could to see it nurtured, grow, allowed to make mistakes, pick up and dust off when they did, and set them back on course again afterwards. Her support and thoughtful feedback of my earliest directing work was precious and I can see no better project than East 15's Debut Festival to name after Stella. This award is about what she dedicated her life to. Celebrating and nurturing raw talent is what she loved doing, so long may her spirit continue with this and the excellent work made by East 15 and the King's Head Theatre".

Stella's full obituary, written by the Arts Editor of Canberra City News, Helen Musa, can be found here.

The winner of the Stella Wilkie Award 2014, chosen on 26 February 2014, was Luke Taylor for his play A*, set in his hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Click here for more information.

The 2013 winner was Sandpits Avenue. The runner-up was League of St George. Both were performed at the King's Head Theatre in a double-bill on Monday 25 March 2013. Both were then performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013, and transferred to open The Hope Theatre in November 2013.