The National Student Drama Festival is an annual celebration of achievement in student theatre.

In 2018, 16 productions were selected by industry professionals out of over 100 submitted shows, and four of those productions were from Durham University, making Durham Student Theatre the most represented and successful student theatre scene of any university at the festival.

Four shows were selected from Durham Student Theatre for NSDF 2018, leading to Kishore Thiagarajan-Walker being awarded Spotlight Most Promising Actor for his performance in Cuth’s Drama Society’s The Events. Durham student Steph Sarratt was also awarded the Judges’ Commendation for Acting for Lion Theatre Company’s one-woman show Grounded. 

The three shows selected for NSDF 2017 included Durham University Light Opera Group’s (DULOG) Ordinary Days which won The Cameron Mackintosh Award at the festival. The other two shows selected were Piccolo Theatre’s Swallow and Battered Soul Theatre’s Hidden. The two awards for Spotlight Most Promising Actor were won by Durham students: Annie Davison for her performance in Swallow, and Harvey Comerford for his performances in Hidden and Thick Skin. Poor Michelle, a theatre company set up by Durham Alumni, also had success with their show Thick Skin written by Catlin McEwan and directed by Ellie Gauge. The production won The Buzz Goodbody Director Award and The Samuel French New Play Award at the festival. Lily James, a Durham graduate, also won The Sunday Times Harold Hobson Drama Critic Award.

DULOG also had two shows selected in 2016, The Addams Family musical and their production of the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate, which was given the honour of closing the festival. Battered Soul Theatre also had their production of Cock by Mike Bartlett selected to be performed at the festival which ran from 19 – 25 March in Scarborough. Collectively Durham University won 9 awards at the closing ceremony including the FestGoers Award for ‘Best Show’. The previous year, Congestion, a verbatim piece by Durham students Ellie Gauge and Sophie Mcquillan was also selected to be part of the festival, following a successful run as part of the Durham Drama Festival 2015.

Durham Student Theatre is committed to supporting Durham shows which are submitted to and selected for NSDF, as well as individuals who are invited as part of those shows or as company members. We continue to find and provide a number of funding opportunities to make the festival as accessible as possible.

Praise for the Selected Shows:

“Ordinary Days was an absolute delight to watch”

DULOG's Ordinary Days, NSDF 2017


“a masterpiece in staging, lighting, acting and sound”

Piccolo Theatre's Swallow, NSDF 2017


“mesmerising… a breath of fresh air”

Battered Soul Theatre's Hidden, NSDF 2017


About the Festival

The NSDF was founded in 1956 by The Sunday Times. This year the Festival took place in Leicester, and offered a week of professional led workshops as well as the opportunity to meet the top performers at other student theatre’s across the country. The festival offers networking with all the professionals and getting feedback and advice for working in the theatre professionally. More information available here.