The Nick Darke Award 2020

The winner of the Nick Darke Award 2020 is Sarah Gordon with The Underdog.

The announcement was made at an online Award Ceremony on Thursday 19 November 2020.

What is the Nick Darke Award?

Following playwright Nick Darke's death, the Nick Darke Award was conceived in 2006 by his wife, the artist and film-maker Jane Darke, with the support of his family. Nick Darke wrote in many forms but earned his living in the world of theatre, screen and radio. The award is funded by Falmouth University through the Academy of Music & Theatre Arts (AMATA) and the School of Communication. The relationship between Falmouth and the award recognises Nick Darke's impact across the arts and endeavours to continue his legacy through the promotion of talent.

About the Nick Darke Award

How to submit

  • Please submit a full stage play script (minimum of 45 minutes in length, no maximum) and a one-page synopsis about the play in PDF format to: Confirmation of receipt of entry will be sent by email.
  • All submissions should be entered anonymously. Do not include a name, address or email on the script. Please provide contact details in the email with your submission.
  • The application must be made in English.
  • The competition is open to all UK and European writers aged 16 and over.
  • The writer must be the sole original author. The competition is not open to collaborations.
  • We do not accept submissions of scripts that have previously been produced or won other competitions.
  • We do not accept submissions of scripts previously entered into the Nick Darke Award.
  • Late or incomplete entries will not be considered.
  • The deadline for submissions is 17:00 (GMT) Monday 4 May 2020.
Cornish playwright Nick Darke
Nick Darke by Steve Tanner
Nick Darke by Steve Tanner.

Judging process

The submissions will be read by a group of readers who will produce a longlist for the Longlist Committee. The Longlist Committee will reduce the submissions to a final shortlist of eight for the judges and the winner will be announced in autumn 2020 at an award ceremony in London.


  • Jeremy Howe Editor of The Archers on BBC Radio 4.
  • Molly Dineen BAFTA and Royal Television Society award-winning UK television documentary director, cinematographer and producer.
  • Roger Michell Theatre, television and film director whose work includes the films Notting Hill, Changing Lanes and Morning Glory.
  • Nick Hern London's leading independent specialist publisher of plays, theatre books and screenplays.
  • Gareth Farr Actor and Bruntwood award-winning writer, whose work has been produced at Manchester Royal Exchange, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Liverpool Everyman, York Theatre Royal and Oldham Coliseum.

Nick and Jane Darke
Nick and Jane

Nick Darke's story

Born and educated in Cornwall, England, the playwright Nick Darke studied acting at Rose Bruford College, Kent before learning his craft at The Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. Here Nick performed in over 80 plays and in 1978 wrote his first play, Never Say Rabbit in a Boat. Its success led him to give up acting and in the following year he won the George Devine Award.

His work attracted further commissions and everything he wrote for the theatre was produced. This included 24 plays that were staged at The National Theatre, London; The Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratfordupon-Avon; The Bush, London; by Kneehigh Theatre and at The Royal Court, London.

He wrote several radio plays and made documentaries for radio and also successfully wrote for television and film. He moved back to Cornwall in 1990 and enjoyed the life of his childhood, fishing and wrecking (beachcombing). In 2001 he had a stroke which affected his speech and reading and writing. He and his wife Jane made the film, The Wrecking Season about the contacts he made tracing fishing gear back to the east coast of America. (Broadcast by BBC Four in 2005 and 2010)

Nick died of cancer in 2005, aged 56 with his funeral held on the beach. He and Jane filmed the last few months of his life. She made the film The Art of Catching Lobsters (BBC Four 2007) about their life together and grief. They have two sons; Jim is a marine scientist, Henry a filmmaker and writer.

The Nick Darke archive

Falmouth University is delighted to hold the professional archive of Nick Darke, following the generous donation of papers from his family. The Collection contains a broad range of preparatory work and scripts for his 30 plays, along with publicity, promotional material, photographs and correspondence. Nick's work for television, film and radio is also well represented. Inspiring, humbling, humorous, and at times deeply moving, the records document Nick's interest in environmental issues, music, Cornish history and culture, as well as his recovery from a stroke in 2001. Nick's wife, Jane, continues to be involved with both the management of the Collection and its use.

The Collection is complemented by other holdings relating to performance activity in Cornwall, including the archives of Wildworks and Kneehigh theatre companies, the latter whom Nick wrote for on many occasions.

The Nick Darke Archive is accessible to staff, students and members of the public alike, by on the Penryn Campus. We enthusiastically welcome enquiries from applicants to the Nick Darke Award keen to learn more about his craft.

For more information or to arrange access please contact us:

T: +44 (0)1326 255738


Nick Darke - rehearsals

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