PAPATANGO New Writing Prize 2020 winner announced

Starting in 2009, the Papatango New Writing Prize is the biggest playwriting award in the UK, attracting more average annual entries than any other. It was the first – and remains the only annual – playwriting award to guarantee its winner a full world premiere in London followed by a national tour, plus royalties, publication and a £6,500 commission to support a follow-up play.

This year’s winner – selected from a record 1504 entries- is Igor Memić, a Duty manager at the Bridge Theatre, for his play called OLD BRIDGE. Igor is a British-Bosnian writer and refugee from Mostar, which is where the play is set, examining with humanity the joy and pain of growing up amidst the horror of war. The play will receive a full production at London’s Bush Theatre later in the year.

Igor was quoted as saying “I never thought a play like this could make the shortlist, let alone win. Writing it has been one of the most painful and important experiences of my life. My attempt at healing old wounds.”

Congratulations Igor!

Having seen the last few years’ Papatango winners, I am sure this will be yet another challenging, surprising and rewarding play

For all you budding playwrights, remember that Papatango is open to all residents of the UK or Ireland, free to enter, and assessed anonymously. So – all you need is a story.Submissions for the 2021 Prize will open in late 2020.

Colchester Mercury supporting fresh music and drama talent

Just a week after naming the winners of their Mercury Songwriting Contest (details here), Colchester Mercury Theatre have done even more – by announcing the 15 participants selected to benefit from the Mercury Playwrights Development Programme.

The writers who will be working with them are:
Waleed Akhtar, Sarah Baxter, Gail Egbeson, Jazz Ely, Matt Gurr, Kelly Jones, James McDermott, Ethan Moorhouse, Chileya Mwampulo, Michelle Payne, Ava Pickett, Charlie Platt, Jacko Pook, LLoyd Shankley and Jess Woo.

Over the next nine months, Mercury Playwrights in association with Josef Weinberger Plays will support these promising writers, to guide and mentor them through the process of creating their own full-length play or piece of theatre.

Let’s wish all the selected writers well with their development. Here’s to seeing the output of these promising voices of the future stage.

You can find out more about the programme and the chosen writers on their website here

Free online Musical extravaganza – at WEST END LIVE 2020

A greatly anticipated free event for several years now, WEST END LIVE is a celebration of all things musical theatre, which attracts the cream of musical theatre performers from currently running shows and shows still in development or soon due to tour the UK.

Sadly, the advent of Coronavirus has posed a threat to its continuance – but as in the best tradition of “the show must go on – somehow” – this year’s WEST END LIVE will still go ahead – but will be online as opposed to in person at its traditional location, London’s Trafalgar Square.

The programme will include

Two compilations of the best of previous years’ performances

A two part Quiz

A singalong session hosted by Ben Stock

The release of a West End Live playlist on Spotify

And to close the event, on Sunday at 4.30pm Dominic Ferris at the piano will be taking your musical theatre song requests

Most of the events will be facilitated through Facebook

To find out more, check out the WEST END LIVE website here

WEST END LIVE is supported by The Society of London Theatre and Westminster Council

Views: On this week’s global protests

People of all colours and backgrounds around the world have united in peaceful protest at the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the police, yet another in a long line of killings in the USA all centred around race.

Racism is a cancer which cripples our society’s growth. Peaceful protest is understandably a significant way for people to express their grief and outrage. But it’s worth remembering that, as well as protest, there are so many other actions we can take which will also bring about change. And in my own opinion, education will play a major role in the way forward.

That is why I am asking you to support progress in a very specific way.

You and I know that theatre is a powerful educator. When theatre comes back – as it will – we will need all those companies who have produced radical, challenging and exciting work around the black experience to be primed and ready to leap out of the starting gate.

If you, like me, feel that you must contribute to the protest in some way, but feel that you haven’t quite found your own way in which to do this, then do something different. Donate! In particular, donate to the many excellent theatre and arts companies which are producing great work in sharing and exploring the experiences of People of Colour.

In the UK

Donate to Eclipse Theatre, who produced and toured a terrific play in early 2020, Janice Okoh’s THE GIFT (review here)

Donate to Tamasha and Paines Plough and the Bush Theatre who produced and toured Zia Ahmed’s I WANNA BE YOURS (review here)

Donate to The Bush Theatre, who have produced Temi Wilkey’s THE HIGH TABLE with Birmingham Repertory Theatre (review here)

Donate to The Young Vic which produced the UK premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning FAIRVIEW (review here)

In the UK and internationally

Donate to Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway’s (founder of award-winning ARTISTIC DIRECTORS OF THE FUTURE organisation) new project BEYOND THE CANON to draw students attention to literary diversity by championing hidden and forgotten plays written by Black, Asian, LatinX and Middle Eastern playwrights by making these texts available to students in the UK and internationally during the hiatus in global education systems. This is a brand new project today and I am thrilled to have been the first donor- so who will join me? Donate here

In the USA

Donate to award-winning Chicago playwright Reginald Edmund’s BLACK VOICES BLACK WORDS INTERNATIONAL project.

Whilst this is my own personal selection of my own recent engagements and experiences, I appreciate that there are many other great organisations which I haven’t highlighted here, so if you know them better than I do, why not donate to them also?

Change is coming, and you can help drive it. Use your money as a way of planting seeds of hope and thought for the future, to help these organisations’ contributions to conversations about important work flourish and grow. And hopefully to lead us all into a more enlightened and caring world where difference is no longer hated but celebrated.

Theatre FootNotes for March 2020 – a summary of other theatre events in my diary

STICKS AND STONES by Dameon Garnett, seen at The Tristan Bates Theatre on Sat 7 March (matinee)

Charting the conversations between a white school-dinner lady and the black school deputy head, STICKS AND STONES boils down to two extended dialogues. There was a lot in the show that was interesting; how social media is something we take far too casually, not thinking about implications or offence, as well as addressing deeply ingrained societal racism. The two actors do good work in bringing the script to life. I felt that there could have been more exposition to make the relationship more solid (before ripping it apart), and also the structure felt somewhat unfinished. Also the staging, in a weirdly lopsided traverse configuration, with a stage management person moving the set sitting in full sight for the duration of the play, felt not only ill-considered but also distracting. Nevertheless I was sorry to see the show’s run cut short by the blanket theatre closures later in the month.