Bristol-based stage and screen composer wins 2017 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting

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The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, Europe’s largest playwriting competition, today announced Timothy X Atack as its 2017 winner for his original play, Heartworm. Atack was awarded the £16,000 prize by Chair of the judging panel and BBC presenter, Kirsty Lang, at a ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre earlier today.

Bristol-based Timothy X Atack is an award-winning writer, composer and sound designer for stage and screen. Heartworm, Atack’s original and unperformed winning play was judged anonymously by eight leading industry figures who were highly impressed by the haunting and tense atmospheric qualities in the writing.

His previous plays have already been met with great acclaim, a number having been adapted for BBC Radio 4 and The Morpeth Carol won best drama at the 2014 Radio Academy Awards. He now joins the Bruntwood Prize’s prestigious alumni that includes leading UK playwrights such as Phil Porter, Duncan Macmillan, Alistair McDowall, Vivienne Franzmann and Anna Jordan.

On winning the 2017 Bruntwood Prize, Timothy X Atack said: ‘It is the most amazing boost to my confidence as a writer and theatre-maker. I’m truly excited for conversations to begin about making a play I’m very proud of in a theatre I really love’.

Heartworm follows a couple renting out their spare room to an odd guest, who upon arrival reveals that she grew up in the house. Despite their suspicions the couple look past the initial incident, drawn in by the guest’s funny, young and vivacious nature, but as the situation escalates they start to rapidly question their decision.  

hree Judges’ Prizes of £8,000 were also awarded at today’s ceremony to Tim Foley for his play Electric Rosary, Laurie Nunn for King Brown and to Sharon Clark for Plow. All four scripts will now enter into a development process with the Royal Exchange Theatre and Heartworm will be co-produced between the Royal Exchange and Royal Court. The Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) in New York will also be supporting the development of Tim Foley’s Electric Rosary.

In total 1,898 original plays were submitted to the Bruntwood Prize this year, each entered under a pseudonym, creating an equal opportunity for writers of any background and experience to participate. Due to the high standards of entries, co-founder of the Bruntwood Prize Michael Oglesby also awarded Joshua Val Martin and Rebecca Callard £4,000 each, as a commendation for their compelling plays, This Is Not America and A Bit Of Light respectively.

Michael Oglesby CBE, Bruntwood Prize judge and Chairman of Bruntwood commented:
‘Ambition, community and innovation are at the heart of everything we strive to achieve at Bruntwood and the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is central to our talent development work in the UK. This year we’ve seen a remarkable standard in entries to the competition. Our overall winner Timothy X Atack has produced a beautiful piece of work and we are thrilled to be supporting him and the other Judges’ Prize winners on their playwriting journey.’

Kirsty Lang, Chair of the 2017 Judging panel, commented: ‘I think the Bruntwood Prize has become the Turner Prize of playwriting. British theatre is the envy of the world and the sheer number of submissions this year – 1,898 – is a testament to the vitality of new writing talent in this county. I am astounded at the quality and breadth of topics covered by the submissions.

What is so remarkable from a judge’s perspective is that the anonymity of the prize takes away any possible prejudices one could conceive, it was such a surprise to learn who the playwrights are, as they did not match the images in our heads when it came to gender, age, class or ethnicity. This year’s winning play, Heartworm, centres around a wonderfully enigmatic and complex female character and I can’t wait to see how she is brought to life’.

Full details of the Bruntwood Prize can be found at writeaplay.co.uk, where a series of free workshops and video tutorials from theatre industry experts can also be accessed.

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