After over four months of deliberation, passionate debate, excitement and trepidation, we are delighted to announce the Shortlist of the 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.

These ten plays have been read by three distinct readers and then read and discussed in detail by a group of eight new readers and practitioners including some of the core artistic staff at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

They have now gone to the Judges who will meet on the evening of Thursday 21st November to decide the winners. It is vital that the playwrights remain anonymous so that the plays are judged on the work and not who wrote them.

Sarah Frankcom, Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange, Manchester said:
“The shortlisted plays have embraced theatricality to tell striking stories, uncover new worlds and bring new insights into old worlds. What we have seen is a beautiful sense of playwrights striving to take audiences on distinctive journeys, exploring form and the live shared experience unique to theatre. From 1800 entries we now have a shortlist of ten. We can’t wait to see how the judges respond to their imagination and daring.”

Michael Oglesby, Judge and Chairman of Bruntwood added:
“The Bruntwood Prize continues to be a catalyst for creative writing and a reflection of the UK’s passion for theatre. As both Chairman of Bruntwood and a judge of the competition, I am incredibly proud of the platform we have created for writers and I’m looking forward to opening the pages of this year’s shortlist.”

Here are the ten shortlisted plays for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2013!


Bird by Anthea Moss

If it all gets too much Ava. We’ll fly.
Fly away will we.
We will.

On the brink of leaving the place they’ve known forever, Ava and Tash have to work out what they’ll do next when the rest of the world comes rushing in. A story of two best friends trying to understand what freedom means for them, as sweet sixteen beckons and casts them out of their care home into a quiet storm of separation.

December by Jude Russell

Tomorrow. Let’s go out on the boat. Let’s eat fish in the evening. Let’s sit on a white pebble beach near a lighthouse, like you used to say. Let’s be the very still. Let’s be forever ago. Let’s get ready for December. And for this boy.

A maritime winter. Fishing boats. A light house. A lost son.
Ben is married to Kate and they live by the sea. They escaped the city and made a promise to each other, to be all the other ever needs. One day a ghost washes in with the tide; a reminder of Ben’s transitory past in the form of Danny, a 19 year old boy born of a long forgotten fling. Can their relationship withstand this wave?

DORM by Robin Bradley

You know I’m starting to think that if we stopped walking the world might stop turning.

A corridor. A railway carriage. An airport departure lounge. A hospital. A hotel.
You can see many doors. You’ve checked in. You’ve been told what your number is. What’s next?

Imam (Faith) by Tobi

They’re using it. Abusing a faith to keep control of this poor girl who has gotten caught up in the middle of it. They don’t care about real faith or law. They don’t care at all cos they’ve gone beyond that place where you rationalize your thoughts before acting on them.

Lawyer Danny is in London. He’s in love, with Maia, a human rights activist. Before their first child is born, Maia asks Danny to return to his birthplace in northern Nigeria to defend a woman facing the death penalty under Sharia Law. Landing in Nigeria Danny soon realises the complications of this case and the very real danger he faces.

P’YongYang by Freddy Park

Every morning I wake up full of rage. It makes me a good worker. I come to work, exhaust myself, like to feel the ache in my body. Go home, feel empty. It’s all I have.

Love, hope and hunger. P’yongyang is an epic drama and an ambitious telling of the tensions between North and South Korea, Communism and Capitalism, told through a simple love story spanning three decades. Chi-Sook and Eun-Mi are childhood sweethearts who dare to dream. As those they love disappear around them, they must confront whether their dreams can ever be real and what survival truly means.

So Here We Are by John Doe

Are you gonna, like, miss him and that? ‘Cause I reckon I might be a bit like, f**kin… thingy. When he goes. Not thingy but y’know. Not in a gay way, but it’s us ennit, it’s always bin like, us.

Frankie’s dead. And no-one’s quite sure why. The lads are bereft, but the 5-a-side is still booked for Monday night. As we flash back through Frankie’s last day on earth, we discover that the people who still want him here might be the reason he’s not. So Here We Are is a play about what can happen when nothing happens.

The Rolling Stone by Rosa Davis

All I am is what other people have ever wanted me to be. All I’ve ever done is appease people’s expectations. And all everyone else has ever done is to project their wants onto me. So now I’ve grown up believing that’s what I want. That’s who I am. But it’s not.

Dembe is discovering what it means to be a man. He’s falling in love for the first time. But it’s a love that threatens the future of the family and could crumble everything around him. A thought provoking exploration of prejudice, hypocrisy and the courage it takes to be yourself in Uganda.

Russian Dolls by Zebra Parks

How do I know you aint a murderer?
I go to church innit.
So did Henry the Eighth and that never stopped him.
You English?
You racist?

75 year old Hilda is struggling to get the hang of blindness. 17 year old Camelia hates getting out of the Young Offenders; its far more complicated on the outside. A story of two women whose lives are challenging in very different ways and proves that friendship can flourish despite social differences.

Waste by Gary Edwards

I’m expanding, it’s taken over my life...we’re going from one to five. Can you believe it? One of the new places is in the city. It’ll be a chain. We’ll be worth a million pounds in ten years. I know it.

An epic multi-generational story about how industry has shaped the British landscape over the last hundred years. One family of butchers takes us from the small brick shops of 1946 to a faceless corporate Dystopia in 2025.


Yen by Jo Ruthrand

You think this is my fault don’t you? You think I’m a weak and selfish person? Alright I’ve not been the best Mum in the world. I know that. I take responsibility for that. But this? This ain’t right. This ain’t natural.

Sixteen year old Hench and his younger brother Bobbie live alone with their dog Taliban. Their days are spent watching porn and playing videogames, their mother occasionally passing out on the front door step. Exploring lost innocence, love, violence and the effects of pornography on young minds, Bobbie and Hench’s world is turned upside down when Jenny knocks on their door.