Today, for the first time in its eleven year history, the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting announced its shortlist for the prestigious Prize. The 2017 winning scripts will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by BBC news presenter Naga Munchetty on the 13 November at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
The ten shortlisted scripts were selected from 1,898 original plays that were submitted to the Prize this year. Each playwright enters their play under a pseudonym, creating an equal opportunity for writers of any background and experience to enter. The final ten are then judged and debated by a prestigious panel of top industry figures.
The biennial Prize is a partnership between the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and family-owned property company, Bruntwood and highlights the importance of new writing for theatre and the value of nurturing playwrights and their craft. The total prize fund is £40,000 and each of the winners will enter into a development process with the Royal Exchange Theatre.
Kate Vokes, Director of Culture at Bruntwood commented: ‘Innovative and ambitious cultural activity is at the heart of any vibrant community and we are very proud of the way the Bruntwood Prize has grown over the years, nurturing individual talent and the stories they tell. We look forward to celebrating with all the finalists at the awards ceremony and following their careers for many years to come.’
Sarah Frankcom, Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre said: ‘It is fantastic to be able to celebrate the success of these 10 shortlisted writers. The standard of entries for the Bruntwood Prize is consistently high, this year we had close to 2000 entries and via a rigorous reading process these 10 plays stood out and now we have a very exciting shortlist for this year’s final.’
The 2017 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Shortlist:
Glasgow-based writer, director and translator, Alan McKendrick has worked across film, theatre and opera. He is a visiting lecturer at University of Kentucky and affiliate theatre practitioner at The University of Glasgow. Oh Graveyard, You Can’t Hold Me Always (read under the title of The Gothic Castle of Capitalism to protect his anonymity) employs a number of storytelling styles to look at the system of oppression and the working class fight.
Archie Maddocks is a stand-up comedian and writer whose previous plays have been produced by the Bush Theatre, Royal Court and Lyric Hammersmith. A Place For We is set in a funeral parlor in Maddocks’ home town of London, and questions the need for progress versus tradition with particular focus on the gentrification of Brixton.
Actor and founder of Snuff Box Theatre, Daniel Foxsmith trained at East 15 Acting School. In 2015 his play One Night Far From Here made the long-list for the Bruntwood Prize and his play Weald received critical praise in 2016. His 2017 shortlisted play, Pumpjack is set in a dystopian future where there is no water and people have become addicted to “black”, the oil that they consume.
Writer and director, Joshua Val Martin is based in Manchester where he works as a tour guide. In 2015 he was long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize and his first film which responds to the tragic Orlando nightclub shootings, A Vocation (49 Scenarios for Gay Men), is currently in production. This Is Not America follows Idris, a third generation Libyan immigrant living in Blackpool and his desire to go to Mars.
Kevin Doyle is a playwright and director based in Dublin. His plays have been produced across Europe, Canada and the US. when after all it was you and me (or – the genocide play) uses a clever mix of humor and horror to present the UN as a restaurant where all political negotiations happen upstairs and the repercussions are played out below.
King Brown is the first play by Laurie Nunn. Set in Australia on the outskirts of Melbourne in the 1970s, it explores racism and the hierarchy of society in Australia. Nunn’s an established film and television writer and her feature film script, The Summer House is currently in development.
British actress, Rebecca Callard is best known for her roles in television shows Fearless (2017), Ordinary Lies (2015) and Detectorists (2014). Set in Scarborough, A Bit Of Light is her first play and explores the relationship between an alcoholic mother and a neglected teenager as she tries to stay sober.
Sharon Clark is Creative Director of Bristol-based immersive theatre company, Raucous and a lecturer at Bath Spa University. Her previous works have been produced by Bristol Old Vic, Theatre 503, New Diorama and Arcola. Plow (read under the title of Over the Hill There’s Something Better to protect her anonymity) follows an African-American woman as she walks across the US on a pilgrimage to where her husband and son died. Through social media she is slowly turned into a modern day Messiah.
Manchester-based Tim Foley is an Associate Artist at Pentabus Theatre. His play, Electric Rosary is set in a convent in the near future where technology is taking over. Science versus technology versus religion, it asks the question - what makes us human?
Timothy X Atack is an award-winning writer, composer and sound designer who founded the multi-disciplinary artist collective, Sleepdogs. His past plays have been successfully adapted for BBC Radio 4 and he is a visiting tutor of sound design for theatre at Bristol University. His shortlisted play, Heartworm, follows a couple as they rent out their spare room to an odd guest.
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. #BruntwoodPrize
Main image, top left to bottom right: Alan McKendrick, Archie Maddox, Daniel Foxsmith, Joshua Val Martin, Kevin Doyle, Laurie Nunn, Rebecca Callard, Sharon Clark, Tim Foley and Timothy X Atack. Photographer: The Other Richards.