The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust

Promoting innovation in theatre

The Trust

The purpose of the Trust is, in general, for the advancement of education, but, in particular, to establish an experimental theatre and/or trust for experimental theatre dedicated to encouraging new generations of creative artists, whether dramatists, dancers, musicians, painters, sculptors or poets.

In early Summer 1967, Francis Warner asked Samuel Beckett if such a theatre could be named after him to which he agreed.

From the outset, the Trust has had a specific interest in aiding artists of the avant-garde who often have to wait many years before they are taken up by the commercial theatre. Through this award, the Trust is looking to help an artist, or a group, of high calibre, realize a fully resourced professional production. It is looking to assist artists that hitherto may not have had this opportunity. The aim is to support work of quality and promise. Commercial success and public appeal are not primary considerations.

The Trust is a Registered Charity, number 273400

"The award is a brilliant initiative to encourage imagination and risk-taking by a new generation of theatre practitioners" - Graham Whybrow, formerly Literary Manager, Royal Court


In Spring, 1967, Francis Warner, Fellow and Tutor in English Literature, St Peter's College, Oxford conceived the idea of establishing a theatre in Oxford which would provide a platform for the work of writers, musicians, artists, performers and directors of the avant-garde and the staple diet would be new and experimental work.

In early Summer 1967, Francis Warner asked Samuel Beckett if such a theatre could be named after him to which he agreed.

Later in 1967, the Governing Body of St Peter's College agreed to support the project. Other supporters were Edmund Blunden, Benjamin Britten, Richard Burton, Sir Maurice Bowra, Nevill Coghill, Christopher Fry, Graham Greene, Rt Hon. Edward Heath, Harold Hobson, Henry Moore, John Osborne, Harold Pinter, John Piper, Kathleen Raine, Jon Stallworthy, Peter Ustinov and Arnold Wesker.

In 1976, St Peter's College passed the management of the theatre project and the accumulated assets to a charitable trust specifically set up for this purpose.

The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award was first launched in 2003.

'The award is a welcome and important development" - Nicholas Hytner, National Theatre