A total of 78 applications were received from across the North of England for the Royal Exchange Theatre’s reimagined Hodgkiss Award for new theatre.

A shortlist of 7 were invited to the theatre on Saturday 25 June to present their ideas to the final judging panel which included Matthew Xia the Exchange’s Associate Artistic Director. The quality of work presented was outstanding and after much deliberation the Exchange are delighted to announce that Manchester based company POWDER KEG has been awarded the 2016 Hodgkiss Award with their production BEARS.

THE HODGKISS AWARD will support the realisation of this brand new piece of ambitious theatre which will now go into development and be presented in one of the Royal Exchange Theatre’s spaces in spring/summer 2017.

Susan Hodgkiss CBE, Prize Founder and Judge, said on Saturday 25th June at the start of the judging day –
“Friday 24 June was one of the most profoundly depressing days of my life. Today when I woke, I realised why I have always supported the arts. The arts allow you to go to other places out of your everyday world. They create, challenge and always stimulate. I am really excited to see the artists and the work they have produced today. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for those talented young people to have the potential of being mentored by the Royal Exchange. Finally I am particularly pleased that this award is for the creators and performers of the North West and North East.”

Powder Keg are a Manchester based Theatre Company that formed in Lancaster, 2013. They combine Pop and Politics to tell stories, transform theatrical spaces and challenge themselves and their audiences. As a company they strongly believe that theatre is for everyone, and so they try to share their work with as many different people as they can. 


Judges: Matthew Xia, Sarah Frankcom, Sue Hodgkiss, Chris Goode and Sonia Hughes

Winners Powder Keg said
“We can’t express how much joy and happiness this brings to us. This is the perfect opportunity for us to create a striking, visceral and ambitious piece of theatre and working with the Royal Exchange will allow us to take big risks in solidifying our ideas.  It’s still not really sunk in yet. For us to be working in a group consisting of great friends on such a scale is something we only ever dreamt of. It’s actually happening. We’ve told our mums so that must mean it’s real.  We look forward to sharing BEARS with audiences soon!”

“We're very aware of the need to develop future-proof theatremakers who are engaged with and responding to the zeitgeist. This award is very much about radical artists and ground-breaking ideas and we were thrilled to receive applications from 78 varied artists - from all across the north of England - with such diversity of thought. [Powder Keg's] idea, BEARS, is an urgent and heart-breaking call to action around environmental issues presented in a playful and compassionate manner."
Matthew Xia

Powder Keg will receive: £4,000 prize money; ongoing support and mentoring from the Royal Exchange; a week-long R&D period at the Exchange in autumn 2016 to develop, play and explore the idea and a three week rehearsal period and supported outcome for the work in one of the Exchange’s performance spaces in spring/summer 2017, with a production budget for its realisation.

"At the end of an extraordinarily stimulating day hearing about the very various ideas on the shortlist, I was thrilled that Powder Keg's BEARS finally edged it. This is an utterly original concept from an incredibly appealing young ensemble. I'm proud to have been a small part of a process that will extend some vital support to such a distinctive and exciting project."
Theatremaker and Judge Chris Goode