Nick Payne

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Nick Payne
Born1984 (age 39–40)
OccupationPlaywright, screenwriter

 Literature portal

Nick Payne (born 1984) is a British playwright and screenwriter. Known for his work on the West End and Broadway stage as well as for his film and television work he has received nominations for a Laurence Olivier Award and a Tony Award.

Payne studied at the University of York and the Central School of Speech and Drama before graduating from the Royal Court Young Writer's Program. Whilst working in the National Theatre Bookshop, he wrote his first play If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet, which premièred in 2009. It was followed by Wanderlust in 2010. He made his Broadway debut with Constellations (2015) for which he received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Play. For his play Elegy (2016) he received a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play nomination. Payne returned to Broadway with A Sea/Life (2019) at the Hudson Theatre.

He created and wrote the BBC One series Wanderlust (2018) and wrote the screenplay for The Sense of an Ending (2016). He co-wrote the 2021 screen adaptation of ‘The Last Letter To Your Lover’ from a book by Jo Jo Moyes.

Early life and education[edit]

Payne studied at the University of York and subsequently at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He is also a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writer's Program. Nick was/is a member of the Northern Writing Squad, an Arts Council funded project in the North of England that supports emerging young writers.


In 2008 Payne worked at the bookshop of the National Theatre.[1] His first play If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet opened at the Bush Theatre in October 2009 and received a positive response from critics at the Evening Standard and the Financial Times. It won the George Devine Award. In September 2012 it was staged at New York's Laura Pels Theatre, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.[2]

Payne's second play Wanderlust opened in September 2010, directed by Simon Godwin, at the Royal Court Theatre upstairs and also garnered excellent reviews. In November, Payne was shortlisted for the Evening Standard's Most Promising Playwright Award, but lost out to Anya Reiss. He took part in the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty Six Books, for which he wrote a piece based upon a book of the King James Bible.

Constellations opened at Royal Court Theatre on 13 January 2012. Directed by Michael Longhurst and starring Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins, it explores love, friendship and the notion of free will against the backdrop of quantum physics. It was extremely well received, with Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph commenting that "Nick Payne's drama lasts just over an hour but packs in more than most shows manage in three times that length. It is playful, intelligent and bursting with ideas, but also achieves a powerful undertow of emotion"[3] while Paul Taylor in the Independent wrote that "one would be hard put to begin to do justice to the dazzling way it creates it own [sic] rules, while at the same time being wise enough not to jettison the old rule book either".[4] It transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in November 2012. That month it won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play.[5] In January 2013 Payne revealed that a film adaptation was under way.[1] This plan was later shelved.

In August 2013 his play The Same Deep Water As Me opened at the Donmar Warehouse, with a cast including Nigel Lindsay, Daniel Mays and Marc Wootton. In January 2014 Blurred Lines, a piece he devised with the director Carrie Cracknell, opened at the National Theatre's Shed. In 2014, two episodes of The Secrets which were written by Payne were broadcast on BBC One.

Incognito was a co-production between Live Theatre, nabokov, HighTide Festival Theatre and in association with The North Wall in spring 2014, which previewed at Live Theatre in April 2014, before going to HighTide Festival and The North Wall, Oxford. It returned to Live Theatre in May and then had a sell-out run at The Bush Theatre, London. Incognito was produced Off-Broadway (in New York) by the Manhattan Theatre Club with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at New York's City Center in 2016.[6] The play stars Charlie Cox, Heather Lind, Morgan Spector, and Geneva Carr and is directed by Doug Hughes.

The American premiere of Constellations opened on Broadway in January 2015 at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, starring Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson. Constellations reunited Gyllenhaal with Payne and director Michael Longhurst, who were also making their Broadway debuts with the production. The three had previously collaborated on the American premiere of If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet.[7] The play was next mounted in 2016 at Washington DC's Studio Theatre, starring Lily Balatincz and Tom Patterson and directed by Studio Theatre Artistic Director David Muse. The production was nominated for six Helen Hayes Awards, with Balatincz winning the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actress in a Play and Patterson winning the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actor in a Play.[8] In November 2016, Constellations opened at Canadian Stage in Toronto, under the direction of Peter Hinton.[9]

A Life ran Off-Broadway from February 2019 to March 2019 and transferred to Broadway at the Hudson Theatre in July 2019. The play ran with Sea Wall and starred Jake Gyllenhaal, directed by Carrie Cracknell. The plays were nominated for the 2020 Tony Award for Best Play.[10][11]

In 2023, A24 acquired the rights to his romantic drama film We Live in Time starring Florence Pugh and Andrew Garfield.[12]



Year Title Role Notes
2016 The Sense of an Ending Screenwriter BBC Films
2021 The Last Letter from Your Lover Screenwriter Netflix film
TBD We Live in Time Screenwriter A24 film


Year Title Role Notes
2014 The Secrets Writer 2 episodes
2016 The Crown Additional material 2 episodes
2018 Wanderlust Writer 6 episodes


Year Title Venue
2006 Flourless reading at the Soho Theatre
2007 Lay Down Your Cross reading at the Royal Court Theatre
2008 Switzerland Hightide Theatre Festival
2009 If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet Bush Theatre
2009 Wanderlust Royal Court Theatre
2009 Starling reading Royal Court Young Writers Festival
2010 The Lost Mariner Royal Court
2010 Interior The Gate Theatre
2011 One Day When We Were Young Paines Plough & Sheffield Theatres[13]
2011 Sixty Six Books Bush Theatre
2012 Constellations Royal Court Theatre
2013 The Same Deep Water As Me Donmar Warehouse
2014 Incognito Hightide Festival and Bush Theatre
2014 The Art of Dying Royal Court Theatre
2014 Symphony (with Ella Hickson and Tom Wells) Soho Theatre[14]
2015 Constellations Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
2016 Elegy Donmar Warehouse
2017 Incognito The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre
2019 Sea Wall/A Life Hudson Theatre

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Project Result
2017 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Play Elegy Nominated
2020 Tony Award Best Play Constellations Nominated
2020 Drama League Award Outstanding Production Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Lift off for the writer with stars in his eyes". Independent, 2 January 2013. Matilda Battersby
  2. ^ "If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, Laura Pels Theatre, New York". Financial Times, review of New York production, 24 September 2012, by Brendan Lemon
  3. ^ Spencer, Charles (3 November 2017). "Constellations, at the Royal Court, review". Retrieved 3 November 2017 – via
  4. ^ "Constellations, Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, London". The Independent. 20 January 2012. Archived from the original on 20 June 2022. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  5. ^ Whitaker's Shorts 2014: The Year in Review. Bloomsbury Publishing. 7 November 2013. pp. 319–. ISBN 978-1-4729-0615-1.
  6. ^ "Sloan Science & Film". Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Jake Gyllenhaal Will Make Broadway Debut Starring in Nick Paynes 'Constellation' "
  8. ^ "The 2017 Helen Hayes Awards Recipients". Washington Post. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Constellations gives us highlight reel of a hundred relationships: review". Toronto Star, Carly Maga, 11 November 2016
  10. ^ Sommer, Elyse. "A CurtainUp Review "Sea Wall/A Life"" curtainup, retrieved October 16, 2010
  11. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "2020 Tony Award Nominations: Jagged Little Pill, Moulin Rouge!, Slave Play Lead the Pack" Playbill, October 15, 2020
  12. ^ "A24 Takes Domestic Rights To Andrew Garfield-Florence Pugh Studiocanal Pic 'We Live In Time'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  13. ^ Plough, Paines. "Paines Plough". Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Theatre review: Symphony at the Vault".

External links[edit]