Donald Bancroft’s Legacy Lives On

The Bancroft competition, set up in 1999 in memory of former College teacher Donald Bancroft, gives Lancing pupils the opportunity to showcase their talent by writing and directing their own work. 

Donald Bancroft taught at Lancing from 1946 until 1978, latterly as Head of English and Head Master’s Assistant (1960 – 1978). He was not only a highly inspirational and charismatic teacher of both English and Classics but also a rather brilliant writer of short stories, frequently broadcast by the BBC. He loved all genres of literature – novels, poetry and drama – and in his earlier years had been an enthusiastic and effective producer of school plays. That is why it was particularly apt when in 1999 his family instituted the annual Donald Bancroft Prize for Playwrights in his memory. We are delighted to welcome members of the Bancroft family back each year to watch the winning play produced on the Lancing stage. 

Mr Smith and Mrs Gerstmeyer had the unenviable task of judging the winner. The title this year awarded to Kayleb M and Rosanna M who teamed up for their entry “Send out the Clowns.” A thrilling ‘whodunit’ unfolding beneath the big top... A tale of intrigue and suspense set in the captivating world of a circus. The cast comprised of George C, Rosanna M, Izzy H, Franci B, Tamilore A, Marnix H, and Hugo D who did a magnificent job of telling the story and bringing the play to life. 


Our winning writers and directors tell their story of how their play came to be: 

It started in the Summer of 2023, when we were discussing the Bancroft competition, as we are both avid Creative Writers, and the possibility of entering. Having never written a play before, or been involved in much drama, I realised that by collaborating with Rosanna, who is heavily involved in drama both inside and outside of school, we would create a strong team that could tackle the challenge together. I was drawn to the idea of a historic Circus setting, and through many calls, together we worked to set out the plot and create the script. When the final submission was sent, there were a lot of nerves but also great excitement. Once the announcement was made that we had won, we knew there was much more work to come, but also that it would be a process well worth it, and a lot of fun.

Kayleb M


Having found our perfect cast, we set about bringing our ideas to life. Neither of us had directed before, but we soon got used to it, and the play started to come along nicely. The development didn’t stop at submission, as seeing it onstage highlighted areas for chop and change that we couldn’t spot on the page. After an admittedly stressful time of four weeks to finesse it, on top of the whole cast going down sick, we finally had a show – a rewarding end to the process. Costumes and Mr Chandler’s incredible lighting added another level to really bring our vision to life in a way we couldn’t have imagined when we first started brainstorming and it was certainly slightly surreal to see this come out of a few small ideas. Kayleb and I loved the final result, and we thank everybody who came to support and watch, as well as our brilliant cast! 

Rosanna M


Congratulations to Rosanna, Kayleb and our runner-up Kiara Njoya.