The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting today announced award-winning British actors, Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp as its first ambassadors. Known for their roles as Scott and Bailey in the ITV drama of the same name, they will once again join forces to champion the importance of new writing alongside the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and family-owned property company, Bruntwood.
The biennial Prize, now in its sixth year, is an opportunity for writers of any background and experience to enter unperformed plays into Europe’s largest playwriting competition. The new ambassador scheme will help raise awareness of the Bruntwood Prize and open up opportunities to discuss how the Prize can nurture new talent and the craft of playwriting.
Sarah Frankcom, Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, said: ‘Lesley and Suranne are champions of the theatre, both on and off the stage, and are ardent supporters of new writing and the craft of playwriting. We know that the Bruntwood Prize has changed lives, our writers tell us that, and I’m thrilled that Suranne and Lesley are joining us to help champion the importance of playwrights and the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, an important and democratic cultural prize.’
Suranne Jones is an avid supporter of new talent and first became involved with the Bruntwood Prize in 2013 as a judge. Born in Oldham, she has been drawn back to the city of Manchester throughout her career performing at the Royal Exchange Theatre on a number of occasions including Blithe Spirit (2009) and Orlando (2014). Jones is most recently known for her role in the award-winning BBC series Doctor Foster, which returns to our screens this autumn for its second series. Other credits include Coronation Street (ITV), A Few Good Men (Haymarket Theatre) and Beautiful Thing (Arts Theatre).
Manchester-born Lesley Sharp is a keen advocate of new writing, regularly offering her time to lead workshops with young writers and performers to share knowledge of her craft. Her career spans over three decades with credits including feature films The Full Monty and Vera Drake, with recent theatre credits including The God of Hell (Donmar Warehouse), Harper Regan (National Theatre) and A Taste of Honey (National Theatre).
On becoming a Bruntwood Prize Ambassador, Suranne Jones commented: ‘I'm thrilled to be involved with Bruntwood again and honoured to be an ambassador. I have great relationships with two of the writers from the year I was on the panel and I'm always looking to support new talent in our industry. We make stories come to life, but we need the people who write them to be nurtured first!’
Lesley Sharp explained why she became a Bruntwood Prize Ambassador: ‘The Bruntwood Prize is renowned for discovering writers that have urgent, exhilarating and unique voices. Voices that would perhaps not be heard, plays that would not be seen if it wasn’t for the Prize. Writers that shape and change theatre, that ask us questions about our world, that offer us insights and perceptions we are thrilled and unnerved and entertained by. I am delighted to be part of the Bruntwood Prize family. Now, more than ever we need our lives, our society, our world to be documented, to be understood. We need great writers.’
Michael Oglesby, Chairman of Bruntwood said: ‘The Bruntwood Prize prides itself on nurturing talent long after the submission process, offering free workshops, mentoring and access to leading professionals to enhance skills. We are delighted to welcome both Suranne and Lesley to the Bruntwood Prize family to help us champion and open up new platforms to promote the craft’
The 2017 winning scripts, will be announced at an awards ceremony in Manchester this November. The total prize fund is £40,000 and full details of the 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.