Grace Gummer announced as first recipient of National Theatre's new women directors award

Zoe Paskett
Helen Maybanks

The first winner of the National Theatre’s new Women of Tomorrow Directors Award has been announced as Grace Gummer.

Gummer was selected from more than 160 applicants to the prize, which was launched at the end of last year in partnership with the Chanel Fund for Women in the Arts and Culture and the Yard Theatre.

The award means she will work as resident director in the National’s new work department for six months, before staging her own production at the Yard Theatre in autumn.

Her previous work has included being resident assistant director on Pamela Carter’s LINES, Cressida Brown’s RE:Home and Alexander Zeldin’s Beyond Caring at the Yard. The last production transferred to the Shed at the National Theatre in 2015.

Gummer was also a trainee director at the Royal Court, helping with such productions as Alice Birch’s Anatomy of a Suicide, Chris Thorpe’s Victory Condition, Simon Longham’s Gundog and Caryl Churchill’s Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.

Her own directing credits include Butter by Lady Junk Theatre at the Vaults and Germ Free Adolescent by Natalie Mitchell at the Bunker Theatre.

Gummer said she is “thrilled” to be the award’s first recipient, adding that working at the National Theatre will be “perfect preparation for directing a production at The Yard, a building dedicated to pushing contemporary theatre forwards.

“It’s rare for emerging directors to be given the opportunity to direct a production, especially of a brand-new play at scale.”

Senior new work manager at the National Theatre Rachel Twigg was on the interview panel. She said: “We were all struck by Grace’s passion and dedication to creating bold, exciting new work and were delighted to offer her this award. Grace has an incisive and forensic mind for developing new writing and she is currently at the forefront of creating theatre with new artists and voices.”

Yard Theatre artistic director Jay Miller said that he has been following Gummer's work for a number of years, saying he is “proud to have her working in the building”.

He added that choosing the winner has been a “very competitive process full of really inspiring women”.