WISH LIST by Katherine Soper, who currently works in a perfumery on Regent Street in London, was today announced as the winner of the 10th anniversary Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015 – Europe’s biggest playwriting prize. She wins a prize of £16,000, and a residency at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, where today’s award ceremony took place and the process towards production begins.
The winner was announced at a glitzy ceremony attended by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, which was hosted by Kirsty Lang.
Chair of Bruntwood Michael Oglesby CBE, Royal Exchange Artistic Director and 2015 Judge Sarah Frankcom, 2015 Winner Katherine Soper, His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex and former National Theatre Artistic Director and Chair of the 2015 Judging Panel Sir Nicholas Hytner.
WISH LIST is Katherine Soper’s first play. She said: “This is the best boost of writerly confidence I could imagine.”
WISH LIST tells the story of Tamsin, sole carer for her brother Dean, whose crippling OCD leaves him housebound in a perpetual state of ritual. Now that ‘Help to Work’ has cut all his benefits, she’s taken a zero-hour contract performing packaging rituals of her own, on the clock and to a quota. If she doesn’t pack faster, whilst keeping her brother on track, she’ll lose out to the next in a long line of temps, and soon they could both lose their lifelines. A sensitive and delicately powerful play about trying to survive when every system is against you.
Katherine currently works in a perfumery on Regent Street, and has also worked at Harvey Nichols in Manchester. She wrote Wish List as her dissertation play at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She took part in the Royal Court’s writers’ group in Autumn 2014, and developed a short play, Sundries, with the Young Friends of the Almeida earlier this year.
All entries to the Bruntwood Prize are submitted anonymously. Katherine said: “Having someone respond well to your work, with no name or personal information factored in, is so heartening.”
The Chair of the judging panel, former Artistic Director of the National Theatre Nicholas Hytner said: “The Bruntwood shortlist has been a pleasure to read, and it includes strikingly accomplished plays covering a startling range of urgent subject matter. It is a privilege to be able to recognise them and to be part of this imaginative and important competition.”
This year the judges decided to present an additional, fourth, Judges’ Award! The plays chosen are: SOUND OF SILENCE by Chloe Todd Fordham, PARLIAMENT SQUARE by James Fritz, HOW MY LIGHT IS SPENT by Alan Harris and THE ALMIGHTY SOMETIMES by Kendall Feaver.
Fellow judge, and Chair of Bruntwood, Michael Oglesby said on deciding to award an extra prize: "The extraordinary strength of this years shortlist led us to make the unprecedented decision in our tenth year to award an extra prize to reflect the exciting ambition and unique talent that made it to the final ten."
In its ten year history, the Bruntwood Prize has awarded more than £160,000 to 17 different playwrights, and developed 16 full productions of new plays with 28 UK theatres.
Writers of all levels of experience were invited to enter plays, which must be original, unperformed and unproduced. This year 1,938 scripts were submitted for the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting – the second highest tally in the Prize’s history. The competition, which runs every two years, is a unique partnership between the Royal Exchange Theatre and property company Bruntwood. The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is open to writers in the UK and Ireland aged 16 and over.
The judging panel for this year’s prize was chaired by Nicholas Hytner, former Artistic Director of the National Theatre. The full judging panel is as follows:
• Nicholas Hytner (former Artistic Director, National Theatre)
• Sarah Frankcom (Artistic Director, Royal Exchange Theatre)
• Vivienne Franzmann (playwright and former Bruntwood winner)
• Ramin Gray (Artistic Director, Actors Touring Company)
• Bryony Lavery (playwright)
• Michael Oglesby CBE (Chairman, Bruntwood)
• Miranda Sawyer (writer and broadcaster)
• Meera Syal CBE (actor and writer)
Over 11,000 entries have been generated from across the United Kingdom and winning playwrights have gone on to have work produced at the Royal Court Theatre, Almeida Theatre, on Broadway and in the West End. It is a significant investment in playwrights and support for new work on stage. More information about the Prize can be found at www.writeaplay.co.uk.