2017 Nick Darke Award Launched

This year's Nick Darke Award for aspiring writers is now open for entries. Find out all the information and download an application pack here

The Nick Darke Award is a prestigious grant given to a writer of stage, television or radio scripts. It was conceived in 2006 by Jane Darke following her husband’s untimely death and is funded by Falmouth University’s Academy of Music and Theatre Arts and the School of Writing and Journalism. Its aim is to celebrate the life and work of Nick Darke by providing financial respite to playwrights so that they have time to write.

Nick Darke was born in 1948 to a farmer and an actress in Porthcothan, Cornwall. He developed both a love for the dramatic arts and a deep appreciation for his surroundings, which is evident in the style and subject of his plays. He trained in theatre arts at Rose Bruford College before working at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke as an actor and director.

He moved on in 1978 after finishing his first full-length play the previous year, Never Say Rabbit in a Boat, to focus on writing. He was given the George Devine Award for most promising playwright the next year. Throughout his life he wrote 30 stage plays, of which the Royal Shakespeare Company produced 8 and the National Theatre 2, as well as working extensively for television and radio.

Nick Darke 2016 Winner Hinrich Haaren

Nick Darke 2016 Winner Hinrich Haaren

He is associated with Falmouth University because of the values they share. They both strive to educate people about Cornwall’s history and culture, promote environmental awareness, and to do so through creative mediums. Their close relationship is illustrated in the Nick Darke Archive which has been entrusted to Falmouth University and contains notes for his plays, diaries, and documents.

Last year was the 10th anniversary of the NDA. Hinrich Von Haaren was pleasantly surprised to hear that his entry Coma Girl had won against 6 other shortlisted plays and would earn him £6,000. Hinrich studied Chinese and German Literature in Berlin and had previously written radio plays for Radio Bremen and Ostdeutscher Radfunk.

The award ceremony was held at the Dorfman Theatre in London on the 9th November 2016, a change from the previous years where it was held in Cornwall. Readings from his plays preceded the prize-giving, as well as summaries of the shortlisted scripts by panellist Jeremy Howe.

The NDA provides many opportunities for the entrants; Molly Naylor, shortlisted in 2014, become the Writer in Residence for Falmouth University in 2016 while Kieran Lynn (winner 2012) wrote plays like Bunnies which was performed by an award winning theatre group and published by Oberon Books.

Hinrich Haaren was chosen by a panel of judges comprised of Margaret Matheson, Jeremy Howe, Molly Dineen, Roger Michell, Carl Grose and Henry Darke.


The 2016 Shortlist

Ruamoko’s Footsteps – Gaia Sorcha Fenn

Experience –Dave Florez

Starfish – Sarah Grochala

Palimpsest – Sue Healy

Punts – Sarah Page

Maisie and Mrs Webster – Judy Upton

Coma Girl – Hinrich Von Haaren


by Gabby Willcocks