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14-strong shortlist announced for UK’s biggest national competition for playwriting

Bruntwood Prize Judges Meeting
  • 14 plays selected to compete across 4 categories, including new work from actors David Dawson (My Policeman), Kirsty Marillier (Home and Away) and Georgia Bruce (It’s A Sin)

  • Award open to anyone regardless of experience welcomes two first-time playwrights: Georgia Bruce and Nathan Queeley-Dennis

  • Dave Harris becomes the first person to have been shortlisted twice in the history of the Prize

  • Two writers from Manchester and one from Liverpool are in the running for the new North West Original New Voice Award and Residency

Bruntwood, in partnership with the Royal Exchange Theatre, today announces the shortlist for the 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. The prize – which seeks scripts from established, emerging and debut writers to develop for the stage – is a partnership between leading commercial property developer Bruntwood, a major supporter of the arts, and world-class producing theatre, the Royal Exchange Theatre, in Manchester. 

14 plays have been shortlisted from the 130-play longlist – the biggest longlist in the Prize’s history - to be considered across four categories. 9 plays from the UK are in the running for two categories: overall winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, who takes home £16,000, as well as the Judges Award for a ‘runner up’, worth £8,000. Three of those plays are in the running for the North West Original New Voice Award and Residency, new this year in recognition of the Prize’s Manchester home. In addition, five further plays are eligible for the International Award, who apply through partners in Australia, Canada and the US. Four of the five shortlistees are from Australia.

Of this shortlist of 14, three playwrights are best known for their acting careers, and for one of them  -  Georgia Bruce - this is their first play. Actor David Dawson stars alongside Harry Styles and Emma Corrin in My Policeman, in cinemas now, while actor and writer Bruce appeared as Sal in Channel 4’s popular It’s A Sin (2021). Actor and playwright Kirsty Marilier from Australia, known for playing Rose Delaney in Home and Away since 2018, is shortlisted for this year’s International Award. 

Reinforcing the Prize’s aim to showcase new voices and stories is the inclusion of work by another first-time playwright: Nathan Queeley-Dennis, an actor from Birmingham. For the first time ever in the Prize’s history, a playwright has been shortlisted for a second time: Dave Harris’sTambo & Bones was shortlisted for the International Award in 2019 and receives its London premiere next year. Jill O’Halloran (Manchester), David Dawson (Manchester)and Patrick Hughes (Liverpool) are also all in the running for this year’s new North West Original New Voice Award and Residency.

All winners enter a development process with the Royal Exchange Theatre in an endeavour to bring their work to production, with the winner of the North West Original New Voice Award and Residency also having access to an additional £10,000 fund dedicated to their professional development at the Royal Exchange Theatre during a bespoke one-year residency in partnership with Bruntwood and the Oglesby Charitable Trust.

The 9 UK scripts in the running for the overall £16,000 prize are as follows (listed alphabetically by surname). 

  • Time, Like the Sea by Georgia Bruce

  • The Institute byDavid Dawson

  • The China Play by Jeremy Green

  • Leave the Morning to the Morning by Patrick Hughes

  • Bindweed by Martha Loader

  • Allah in the Walls by Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi

  • Three by Jill O'Halloran

  • Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz by Nathan Queeley-Dennis

  • (the) Woman by Jane Upton

Three of the playwrights shortlisted for the overall Prize – David Dawson, Patrick Hughes and Jill O'Halloran – are also eligible for the Original New Voice Award

Five scripts have been shortlisted for the International Award from Australia and the US. They are (listed alphabetically by surname):

  • way back when by Dylan van den Berg (Australia)

  • The Red Lead 红铅 by Roshelle Fong (Australia)

  • Watch Me by Dave Harris (USA)

  • The Zap by Kirsty Marillier (Australia)

  • No Pink Dicks by Moreblessing Maturure (Australia)

Roy Alexander Weise, Joint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre and judge for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, said: “The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is an extraordinary outpouring of creative talent and a huge celebration of the art of writing a play. Thousands of writers from across the world are actively engaged in crafting, writing, inventing, reading and rewriting their plays ready for a brilliantly skilled army of readers. Each one of these plays is a piece of an intricate jigsaw that creates a picture of who we are and where we are today – on a global scale. And that is why championing new writers and supporting their development is vital – it opens many new and exciting windows onto our world.  It is thrilling to be part of this process and I’m delighted to be celebrating these fantastic pieces of writing and the people who shared them with us.“  

The Judges will announce the winner of the 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting at an awards ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on 14th November 2022.

The 14 scripts have been judged by a panel of prestigious names across the arts industry, including Miranda Cromwell, Olivier Award winning Theatre Director; Julie Hesmondhalgh, award-winning actor and supporter of the Royal Exchange Theatre; Kimber Lee, winner of the inaugural Bruntwood Prize International Award in 2019; Farai Matekenya Nhakaniso, Local Exchange Ambassador for the Leigh area for the Royal Exchange Theatre; Kate Vokes, Non-Executive Director at Bruntwood and Chair of Trustees at the Oglesby Charitable Trust, and Roy Alexander Weise, Joint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre.  The Prize is chaired this year by Amanda Parker, Founder of Inc Arts UK, a national centre for advocacy for the creative, contractual and economic rights of the UK’s ethnically diverse arts sector workforce.

Kate Vokes said: "For Bruntwood, cultural vibrancy is a key element in building thriving communities for the long term, and we see our partnerships as central to realising that. To do so, the partnerships themselves should be more than straightforward corporate sponsorship arrangements, and instead be real-life, meaningful relationships that grow, develop and embed over time. The Bruntwood Prize has become a shining example of that approach in action. The longevity and scale of the competition really demonstrates the importance of corporate and philanthropic engagement with the Arts. At a time when an increasing number of external factors threaten to jeopardise the creative sector, this importance is enhanced."

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has a proven track record of finding new talent and helping established writers bring their stories to new audiences. Since its inception in 2005, over 15,000 scripts have been entered, £304,000 has been awarded to 34 prize-winning writers and 26 winning productions have been staged in 38 UK wide venues.  The Prize is now recognised as a launch-pad for some of the country’s most respected and produced playwrights, many of whom are completely new to playwriting – one third of the entrants to the 2022 Prize had never written a play before.


UK shortlistees

  1. Time, Like the Sea by Georgia Bruce
    Georgia Bruce
    is a writer and actor from London. As an actor, their theatre credits include Wuthering Heights (Wise Children), Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical (ROYO) and Malory Towers (Wise Children); TV credits include It’s A Sin (Channel 4). Time, Like the Sea is their first play, which explores lesbianism and queerness through different generations.

  2. The Institute by David Dawson
    Olivier-Award nominated actor David Dawson plays a leading role in Michael Grandage directed My Policeman, opposite Harry Styles and Emma Corrin – in cinemas now - following a varied career on television. His playThe Institute is set in Berlin in 1919 and based on the true story of people who dedicated their lives to abolishing ‘Paragraph 175’, the criminalisation of homosexuality.

  3. The China Play by Jeremy Green
    Jeremy Green
    is a playwright whose works include Snakes (Young Vic); The Wolfgang Chase (BBC Radio); Fairy Tale & a version of Chekhov's The Proposal (Pleasance); and Lizzie Siddal (Arcola). His latest play The China Play focuses on an Asian-American interpreter who finds herself unexpectedly thrust into a summit meeting between two Presidents, where nuances of language collide with diplomatic tension.

  4. Leave the Morning to the Morning by Patrick Hughes
    Paddy Hughes
    is a playwright, dramaturg and script reader based in Liverpool, who seeks to support and develop new writers in the North-West of England. Leave the Morning to the Morning is a story of heartbreak, speaking the truth and the right to live and die on your own terms.

  5. Bindweed by Martha Loader
    Based in Ipswich, Martha Loader is a writer, producer and actor, who won the 'Award for Promising Young Playwright' presented by Richard Curtis at INK Festival 2019. She is an alumni of the Mercury Playwrights, Soho Writers Lab and HighTide Writers programmes. Bindweed follows the facilitator of a perpetrator programme for domestic abusers, whose life outside of work begins to buckle.   

  6. Allah in the Walls by Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi
    Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi
    is a British-Iranian playwright and screenwriter born and raised in Yorkshire. Her work has been staged at the Southwark Playhouse, the Arcola Theatre, and the North Wall Arts Centre, with her debut full-length show MADDY premiering at the VAULT Festival in 2019. Allah in the Walls follows Fairuza, who with her family takes in an old childhood friend for the duration of Ramadan. Everything is not as it seems, however, and Hannah finds herself trying to keep her past hidden in the midst of the dysfunctional family.

  7. Three by Jill O'Halloran
    Jill O’Halloran
    grew up in Leigh, now living in Liverpool. Prior to her writing career she was a practising barrister, the first in her family to attend university. She has an MA in Television and Film Scriptwriting from Salford University. Three follows Carol on her wedding anniversary, looking back with fierce jealousy to the younger woman her husband once loved - her younger self.

  8. Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz by Nathan Queeley-Dennis
    Nathan Queeley-Dennis
    is an actor born and raised in Erdington, Birmingham. His acting credits include Black Love (Kiln Theatre) written by Chinonyerem Odimba, Really Big and Really Loud (Paines Plough) written by Phoebe Eclair-Powell and A TASTE OF HONEY (National Theatre). Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz is NQD’s first play, which follows Nathaniel; a young man on his journey of self-discovery as he explores Black masculinity through Beyonce lyrics, techno raves and the deeply intimate relationship a man has with his barber.

  9. (the) Woman by Jane Upton
    Writer Jane Upton’s plays include The Price of Home (Paines Plough & Derby Theatre), Finding Nana (Pleasance Edinburgh Festival)and All the Little Lights (Fifth Word, UK tour, Arcola Theatre). (the) Woman follows M, who is trying to write a play about motherhood, but in the 21st Century it is not sexy to be ‘just’ a mum.

International shortlistees

  1. The Red Lead 红铅 by Roshelle Fong (Australia)
    Hong Kong born multi-disciplinary artist Rochelle Fong wrote, directed and produced the Melbourne Fringe award-winning immersive show ‘nomnomnom’ in 2018, and is currently completing a Master of Theatre (Writing) at University of Melbourne’s Victoria College of the Arts. The Red Lead is set in 1542 Ming Dynasty China, painting an anachronistic portrait of sisterhood, survival and an attempt to rise up.

  2. Watch Me by Dave Harris (USA)
    Dave Harris
    is a poet and playwright from West Philly, who has coincidentally been shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize before for his play Tambo & Bones in 2019, which is seeing its London premiere in 2023. His latest play Watch Me takes place in subconscious void of an interracial couple from their first date to their first time, to a reckoning with heritage, ancestry, and Black Jesus.

  3. The Zap by Kirsty Marillier (Australia)
    Kirsty Marillier
    is a South African / Australian, award-winning playwright and actor. She is best known for her work Orange Thrower – which had its 2022 stage premiere with Griffin Theatre Company and National Theatre of Parramatta. Her acting credits include Home and Away, The Greenhouse (Netflix) and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Her new work. The Zap is a play of power and potential, resistance and resilience, ambition and fitting in. A high intensity, radical romp imagining our very near future, intersectional feminism and fake ass news.

  4. No Pink Dicks by Moreblessing Maturure (Australia)
    Moreblessing Maturure is a multi-award-winning Zimbabwean/Australian inter-disciplinary artist, TEDx Speaker and founder of FOLK Magazine.Her written work across literature, stage and screen has included recent engagements with Screen Australia, Associate Development Producer at Kojo Studios and Sydney Theatre Company (Resident Writer, 2017-19). Across a series of scenes, couples and relationships, No Pink Dicks picks at our perpetual (dis)comfort with the space between the personal and the political.

  5. way back when by Dylan van den Berg (Australia)
    Dylan van den Berg is a Palawa writer originally from the northeast of lutruwita/Tasmania and an emerging artist-in-residence with the Sydney Theatre Company. For his work, Dylan has received the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Playwriting, the Victorian Premier’s Award for Drama, the Griffin Award for New Australian Writing, the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award, and has twice been shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwrights Award. way back when is set in a post-colonial Tasmania where three women meet, reimagining the colonisation of Tasmania as a Gothic revenge drama. 

For more info on the Prize and the shortlistees, head to writeaplay.co.uk.

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