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Guest Blog: Why I set up a playwriting award in honour of a stage manager

Adam Spreadbury-Maher, artistic director of the King's Head Theatre and new Hope Theatre, is launching a playwriting award for theatre professionals in honour of a stage manager-turned-writer

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Adam Spreadbury-Maher
© Adam Levy

In 2009, having just founded the Cock Tavern Theatre, I programmed the first revival of Adrian Pagan's The Backroom, directed by Gareth Corke. The incredibly funny and tender play was only the second production I worked on as the artistic director at The Cock Tavern, it was incredibly successful and is such an important memory and project for me. It's also one of the main reasons that I am so proud to have launched the Adrian Pagan Playwright Award.

The award was set up this June in memory of Adrian, a stage manager-turned-writer, who passed away too soon in 2007. It does what no other new writing award does; provide an opportunity specifically for those who work in theatre but aren't primarily playwrights. Producers, lighting designers, front of house managers, actors, accountants – absolutely anyone who works full-time as a theatre professional but has not had a play professionally produced can enter the competition.

Adrian trained and worked as a stage manager before winning the highly coveted Verity Bargate Award with The Backroom, which was subsequently staged at the Bush (a theatre where he'd frequently worked backstage as a dearly loved member of their team). The success of The Backroom led to further writing for television, with Adrian working on a number of major prime time programmes and other screen projects until the time of his death.

The award is both a celebration of Adrian's life and journey through his career and work, and of the hugely talented individuals that populate each part of the theatre industry today and everyday. As the artistic director of the King's Head Theatre and newly founded Hope Theatre I always aim to support bold new work by offering a platform to those who want to make the future of theatre in Britain more exciting. The Adrian Pagan Award does precisely that, by offering the winner £2,000 and a run of their play produced professionally in a full season by the King's Head team at the Hope Theatre.

Entrants will have their scripts read by our experienced panel of judges, who all come from different corners of the theatre world; David Lan, Mark Ravenhill, Nina Steiger, Julia Tyrrell and Mike Bradwell. It's wonderful that even in its first year, the award is already supported by so many experts who are all as passionate about unearthing hidden talent as I am.

The Adrian Pagan Playwright Award is designed to give an opportunity to a talented writer who hasn't had a break yet. It's also a new channel to playwrights that may not be so obvious. It's a wonderful chance to honour Adrian, and, I hope, unearth many more over years to come.

The Adrian Pagan Playwright Award applications close on 31 October. For full details and to enter go to their website.

Today is the first Stage Management Day - for more information click here