Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s play, Shed: Exploded View, has been named the overall winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting during a ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. As well as receiving £16,000, Éclair-Powell will work with the Royal Exchange Theatre’s creative team to refine the script.
Eclair-Powell is an award-winning writer from South East London. Her previous plays have had critical acclaim, with one of her shows, Fury, winning the Soho Young Writer’s Award and having an extended run at Soho Theatre due to popular demand. She joins the Bruntwood Prize’s prestigious alumni of playwrights including Katherine Soper, Phil Porter, Duncan Macmillan, Alistair McDowall, Vivienne Franzmann, Anna Jordan and Tim X Atack.
Described by the writer as an “explosion in action”, Shed: Exploded View, spans 30 years and sees three couples navigate family life, complex relationships and loss. Audiences are invited to make the connections between the characters and feel the impact of violence through a series of non-linear short scenes. The play is based on Cornelia Parker’s art piece Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View made with the restored contents of a garden shed exploded by the British Army. Parker uses the surviving fragments to create an installation suspended from the ceiling as if captured mid-explosion.
Three compelling scripts win in the ‘Judge’s Prize’, ‘Original New Voice’ and ‘International Award’ categories
Also announced at the ceremony were the winners of three Prize categories: Akedah by Michael John O’Neill won the debut writer’s category, Original New Voice; Glee & Me by Stuart Slade was awarded the Judge’s Choice and American writer Kimber Lee’s untitled f*ck miss sa*gon play (srsly this is not the title) scooped the International Award, a newly-introduced category for the Prize. Michael John O’Neill, Stuart Slade and Kimber Lee each take home £8,000 and their scripts will begin the development process with the Royal Exchange Theatre.
Two shortlisted plays receive special recognition from the judges
The four winning plays were judged and chosen from a 15-strong shortlist of established, emerging and debut playwrights. Due to the high calibre of scripts in this year’s record-breaking entries, the judges also awarded Dave Harris and Jody O’Neill £4,000 each as a commendation for their captivating plays, Tambo & Bones and Ballybaile respectively.
Bryony Shanahan, Joint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre and judge for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, said: “This year’s Bruntwood shortlist was exceptional, the plays continually surprised us as judges both in subject matter and in form; they felt alive, contemporary and kept us debating for hours. Shed: Exploded View is ambitious, nuanced and goes right to the heart of the human experience. When I first read it, it felt like a punch to the guts - it is precise and considered, a beautiful tapestry of ideas meticulously woven together, but it is also astonishingly emotional. Phoebe’s characters are so well-drawn and she deals with themes of female trauma with dignity, offering hope to her characters and the audience along the way. The non-linear form of her play makes for a searing and exhilarating experience, and her words - as the title suggests - explode from the page. This is a beautifully crafted piece of brave, bold and aspirational writing. I am delighted for Phoebe and cannot wait to see where this play goes next.”
Kate Vokes, Director of Social Impact at Bruntwood, added: “Bruntwood is a longstanding champion of the arts, since arts and culture are what bring our cities to life. Our partnership with the Royal Exchange Theatre helps nurture new and established creative talent, and I’m delighted to see the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting going from strength to strength; we received a record number of entries this year, of exceptionally high quality. Phoebe Eclair-Powell has written a play that I found deeply moving and I’m looking forward to seeing her and our other three Prize winners continue to make their mark in the industry.”