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'THE STAGE', the world's oldest theatre publication, has announced a new awards to recognise the best breakthrough actors and creatives in theatre.

Anyone over the age of 16, making their professional theatre debut in the UK, is eligible.

It’s a little known fact that Idris Elba secured his first acting role through The Stage newspaper and the likes of Tom Hiddleston’s theatrical debut in 2005 for Yorgjin Oxo - The Man at Theatre 503, London was first featured in The Stage.

Alistair Smith, print editor of The Stage, said:

“It’s increasingly hard to break into a career in theatre – especially if you’re not from a privileged or well-connected background.

“So, with The Stage Debut Awards we wanted to launch an awards that recognise the best performers, directors, writers, composers and designers from across the UK at the very start of their careers. The awards will serve as a launch-pad for our winners and nominees and will help theatre retain the best and most diverse talent at a time when it can be a real struggle for emerging talent to make a name for themselves."

David Grindrod, casting director for Disney's Beauty and the Beast and West End productions of School of Rock and Sunset Boulevard, said:

"Theatre is in need of a platform to celebrate the stars of tomorrow and help encourage a wider pool of talent.

"These awards have the power to change everything for the recipients and accelerate their careers. I am proud to be an ambassador for an initiative that actively champions diverse talent from across the UK and am excited to see the effect it will have on our industry."

David Grindrod will also be involved in the judging process for The Stage Debut Awards.

As well as acting talent, up-and-coming theatre directors, writers, designers and composers will be celebrated. The Stage Debut Awards will also include a Best West End Debut, the winner of which will be voted for by the public from a shortlist decided by The Stage's judging panel.

Shortlisted nominees have been announced, with John Boyega and Amber Riley lined up for the star-studded award ceremony alongside newcomers from across the UK. The award show will take place at 8 Northumberland Avenue, London on September 17, when the winners will be revealed.

Lyn Gardner, The Stage's associate editor and one of the judges, said:

"The Stage Debut Awards are a unique chance to celebrate emerging theatre talent. With so much great theatre taking place across the country, we have a really strong and diverse set of nominees – from young actors making their debuts in small fringe theatres to designers, writers and directors at major regional and national producing theatres. It’s great to see such a great range of talented theatre-makers and gives cause for great optimism about the future of theatre in the UK."

The Stage Debut Awards ceremony will also include a presentation for the Alan Bates Award for best drama school graduate.

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