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Finborough Theatre Wins Pearson Best Play Award


We are very pleased to announce that the Finborough Theatre's Pearson Playwright-in-Residence Anders Lustgarten has won the Catherine Johnson Award for Best Play for A Day at the Racists, which received its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre in March 2010. It is the third major award for the Finborough Theatre in the last three weeks, following its recent awards of The Empty Space Peter Brook Award 2010 and The Writers' Guild New Writing Encouragement Award 2010 for Artistic Director Neil McPherson.

The Pearson Playwrights' Scheme awards five bursaries a year to writers of outstanding promise. Each award allows the playwright a twelve-month attachment to a theatre and commissions the writers for a new play. The Catherine Johnson Best Play Award, worth £10,000 which goes solely to the playwright, is awarded at the end of the year to the dramatist who, in the opinion of the judges, has written the best play of that year's bursary holders.

Judges of the Pearson Award include Catherine Johnson (previous bursary winner and writer of Mamma Mia), Sue Summers, Michael Billington, John Tydeman OBE and Jack Andrews MBE.
Previous recipients of the Pearson bursary over the last thirty years include Mike Bartlett, Richard Bean, Alan Bleasdale, Gregory Burke, David Edgar, David Eldridge, Lee Hall, Jacqueline Holborough, Catherine Johnson, Charlotte Jones, Fin Kennedy, Hanif Kureshi, Nick Leather, Martin McDonagh, Gary Mitchell, Chloe Moss, Gary Owen, Joe Penhall, Winsome Pinnock, Billy Roche, Simon Stephens, Sue Townsend and Timberlake Wertenbaker.

The Finborough Theatre's playwrights have won a Pearson Award bursary six times and - on all six occasions - were the only unfunded theatre to be so recognised. Previous Pearson Playwrights-in-Residence at the Finborough Theatre include Chris Lee in 2000, Laura Wade in 2005, James Graham in 2006, Al Smith in 2007, Anders Lustgarten in 2009 and currently Simon Vinnicombe in 2010.
This is also the third time that the Finborough Theatre has won the Catherine Johnson Best Play Award, following wins for Laura Wade in 2005 and for James Graham in 2006.

Anders Lustgarten is a Playwright-in-Residence at the Finborough Theatre, where his first five plays were produced - The Insurgents (2007), a comic drama about Kurdish immigration and political resistance to globalisation; Enduring Freedom (2008), a powerful portrayal of the Bush years; A Torture Comedy, a satire on rendition and the War on Terror, was part of Vibrant - A Festival of Finborough Playwrights (2009); A Day at the Racists (2010), a timely examination of the rise of the BNP in London (2010); and The Punishment Stories, as part of Vibrant - An Anniversary Festival of Finborough Playwrights (2010). His new play, You Cannot Escape Our Love , about Zimbabwe after Mugabe, was performed at the Harare International Festival of Arts in April 2010. Anders is under commission to the Bolton Octagon, and from 2007-8, Anders was on attachment at the Soho Theatre. Other work includes an adaptation of Slawomir Mrozek's The Police (BAC 2007). Anders works as a political activist; he has also taught on Death Row, been arrested by the Turkish secret police, and holds a PhD in Chinese politics from the University of California.
The Press on A Day at the Racists - World Premiere at the Finborough Theatre in March 2010
"Anders Lustgarten's A Day at the Racists is the best new political play of recent times." John Nathan, The Jewish Chronicle

"The real "wow" of the week is A Day at the Racists by Anders Lustgarten, a political activist turned breathtakingly confident playwright..." Kate Bassett, The Independent on Sunday

"A potent and timely state of the nation play...A triumph - a splendid play that deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible." Evelyn Curlet, The Stage

"A Day at the Racists marks Anders Lustgarten as a real star in the making...This play, which represents a major contribution to the debate about multiculturalism, is yet another success for the Finborough, a theatre that has a great record of discovering fresh talent and belies its size with the consistent programming of the highest quality and deserves a sell-out run... For anyone who regards political theatre as dry and worthy, a trip to see A Day at the Racists should prove a shocking but enthralling eye-opener...the kind of political fantasy that socks you straight between the eyes." Philip Fisher, The British Theatre Guide

"As a General Election looms, this tiny little theatre comes up trumps yet again with a large cast and a big subject in Anders Lustgarten's extremely well acted and topical new play". Louise Kingsley, TNT

"The production succeeds not only through the writing, which is provocative, angry, funny and spare, but also through the energised direction of Ryan McBryde and the superb performances from the entire cast, who operate as a tight-knit ensemble and bring to gutsy life characters that are as sympathetic as they are disturbing...A must-see". Jo Caird,

"This telling and moving new drama announces the definitive arrival, after a few earlier plays, of a very talented and important young writer...that very rare thing, a thesis-driven political play whose debate is intellectually stimulating and engrossing while its characters are real, rounded and believable"...A Day at the Racists deserves a longer life than its month at this tiny Earls Court pub theatre. But just in case it doesn't get it, I encourage you to rush to the Finborough to see it." Gerald Berkowitz, TheatreGuide.London

For more information, interviews and images, please contact
Neil McPherson on e-mail or 07977 173135

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