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Papatango Announces Plans For 2021

Papatango Announces Plans For 2021

2021 will see Papatango mount an ambitious programme of open-entry opportunities to support early-stage artists and freelancers, who are among those hardest hit by Covid-19, and provide completely free and accessible new plays to help encourage audiences back to theatre. The 2021 programme will see:

  • a reimagined iteration of the annual Papatango New Writing Prize - now in its thirteenth year - to generate career-defining work for thrice as many artists and produce free world premières in the company's biggest nationwide tour to date in a new partnership with ETT (English Touring Theatre);
  • the launch of Papatango's Education Portal to ensure anyone can train to make theatre;
  • the expansion of tried-and-tested, completely free creative learning opportunities through GoWrite, with Sarah Emily Parkes appointed to the newly created role of Education Officer.

The company will also film their multi-award-nominated production of 2019 Papatango Prize-winner Shook by Samuel Bailey - which was due to transfer to the West End when the pandemic hit - with its original director and Papatango's Artistic Director George Turvey at the helm in collaboration with BAFTA winning and multi-Emmy-nominated director James Bobin; the film will be released in early 2021.

Completing the programme will be the rescheduled world première of Igor Memic's Old Bridge, previously announced as the winner of the 2020 Papatango New Writing Prize, at Bush Theatre in a new partnership with the venue.

Artistic Director George Turvey said today, "We're bouncing back from the pandemic with our biggest ever programme to support artists and audiences. Including our first film, our rescheduled move to the Bush Theatre, and our remodelled Prize, we'll champion more brilliant new talent than ever before at a time when this is especially vital. Equally, by welcoming Sarah to the team and launching our education portal, we'll help even more people to get into theatre and reap the benefits of creativity. That we can deliver this expansion, even though we run without any core public subsidy and chose not to apply to the Cultural Recovery Fund so that others with greater need could do so, demonstrates what can be achieved with a little will and a lot of imagination."

Judged anonymously, the Papatango New Writing Prize was the UK's first - and remains the only annual - opportunity guaranteeing a new writer a full production, publication by Nick Hern Books, royalties, and a commission for a new play. In addition, every entrant receives feedback on their script - a commitment made by no other company, especially significant as the Prize averages more submissions on a yearly basis than any other playwriting award.

Responding to the exceptional circumstances currently facing artists and audiences, the 2021 Prize will be remodelled, in a new partnership with ETT, to be more accessible and to support more people than ever before. It will invite submissions of 25 - 50 minute scripts for audio performance, and will select three winners, rather than one, each receiving £2000, an audio production, and digital publication with Nick Hern Books.

Three casts and creative teams will be assembled to record the winning plays - with the company pledging that at least one member of each production will be selected from open-entry applications.

The audio recordings of the plays will then tour to 12 venues spanning the UK, including Bristol Old Vic, Chichester Festival Theatre, Stephen Joseph Theatre (Scarborough), Theatre Royal Plymouth, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Theatr Clwyd (Mold), Lyric Theatre Belfast, Southwark Playhouse and Bush Theatre. The recordings will be played from free listening stations - sanitised, distanced, and safe - and therefore able to go ahead whatever social distancing requirements may be in place, and supplemented with copies of the scripts including braille translations, helping encourage audiences back into theatres. This also guarantees venues a new writing offer from emerging artists, when such programming is likely to be under threat. Tickets will be free and bookable in advance; details of the full tour including on-sale dates will be announced next year.

The 2021 Prize will be open for entries from 9am on Friday 27 November 2020, closing at midnight on 7 February 2021, with winners selected in May ahead of an autumn tour. More details on the open-application process for creatives and casts will be announced in 2021.

It is expected that the Prize will return to its more usual incarnation from 2022 onwards.

Following the cancellation of its West End transfer due to Covid-19, Papatango will film their multi-award-nominated production of Shook by Samuel Bailey. Featuring the original cast - Josef Davies (Jonjo), Josh Finan (Cain), Andrea Hall (Grace) and Ivan Oyik (Riyad) - and with the original set/costume designs by Jasmine Swan and sound design by Richard Hammarton, the film will be directed by George Turvey in collaboration with BAFTA winning and multi-Emmy-nominated director James Bobin (The Muppets; Dora and the Lost City of Gold; Alice Through The Looking Glass; Flight of the Conchords). The production will be filmed next month and released early next year.

Shook by Samuel Bailey won the 2019 Papatango New Writing Prize, debuting to critical acclaim at Southwark Playhouse, and was nominated for 7 OffWestEnd Awards and The Stage Debut Award for Most Promising Playwright. It became the best-selling world première in the venue's history, and sold out on tour across England and Wales.

The play, inspired by true stories, looks at three young offenders who are due to become fathers while incarcerated. As Cain, Riyad and Jonjo embark on parenting classes under the instruction of Grace, their different histories slowly emerge and their different futures take shape. Both funny and poignant, Shook examines the young people society shuts away.

Following his sensational debut, Samuel Bailey is now under commission from Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth, as well as developing a new film with the award-winning director Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) for 42. He was born in London and raised in the West Midlands. He began writing plays in Bristol and developed work with Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory Theatres and Theatre West before moving back to London. He is an alumnus of the Old Vic 12 and Orange Tree Writers' Collective. Shook was originally supported by the MGCfutures bursary programme, and was his debut full production.


The world premiere of the winner of the 2020 Papatango New Writing Prize

At Bush Theatre, dates TBC

"One day all you care about is music, fashion, and boys. The next day there's no food. Piece by piece your world starts to change so you change with it."

Mostar, 1988. A boy from out of town dives from the famous Old Bridge. A local girl watches, her heart falling with him.

Mostar, 1992. In a town of growing divisions, Muslim Mina and Catholic Mili have never doubted that their future lies together - but nor can they imagine the dangers that future will bring.

This beautiful, heart-wrenching play by British-Bosnian writer Igor Memic conjures up a lost world of innocence and hope. Inspired by true stories, it powerfully exposes the impact of a war that Europe forgot and the bravery, love and sacrifice of those who lived through it.

Igor Memic is a Bosnian-born British playwright, originally from Mostar. He grew up in London after leaving Yugoslavia in 1992. He studied at the University of Liverpool and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Old Bridge marks his professional debut.

The 2020 Papatango New Writing Prize had a record 1,504 entries - more submissions, by annual average, than any other UK award. The previous eleven Prize-winners have been: 55% male and 45% female; aged from their 20s to their 50s; 72% from outside London; 64% debut writers; 72% state educated.

Launching in late Spring 2021, Papatango's brand-new, not-for-profit education portal will offer online, captioned courses in playwriting and producing, led by a host of leading theatre-makers, to ensure top-class theatre training is available to anyone, anywhere.

With the majority of education opportunities tied to specific venues, making geography and mobility barriers, this unique opportunity will provide access to education and learning schemes to empower the next generation of artists.

GoWrite is Papatango's nationwide participation, engagement and professional development programme for young people and adults. It delivers completely free playwriting training, including: courses at regional venues without in-house new writing provision; workshops for state secondary schools, leading to professional performance and publication of students' work; workshops at community centres; a one-to-one career facilitation service; and access bursaries and free tickets to enable writers anywhere to participate in our opportunities.

In 2021 Papatango will expand GoWrite to counter the ever-widening gap in accessible education and training provision. To underpin this, Sarah Emily Parkes has been appointed to the new role of Education Officer. Her remit will include expanding GoWrite to reach even more schools and communities across the country; as a starting point, in 2021 the company will run 2 free regional playwriting courses for 36 writers with no professional experience, culminating in public showcases of work, and run 44 free writing workshops in 22 state schools in London, South-West and North-West England, helping up to 660 students become published and produced playwrights.

Sarah Emily Parkes said today, "Having worked with Papatango last year to help deliver WriteWest, our pilot education programme in the South West of England, I am delighted to be taking on the role of Education Officer, to grow and develop our free and accessible opportunities for writers of all ages, backgrounds and levels of experience. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is crucial that young people in particular have access to the arts, which have a proven positive impact on wellbeing, confidence and resilience. Our expanded schools programme will allow even more young people, including some of the most vulnerable, to benefit from working with a professional theatre company."

Parkes was Papatango's Assistant Producer in 2019-20. She has worked for a wide range of organisations within the arts, education and voluntary sectors, including Kilter Theatre, The Invisible Circus, House of Imagination, North Somerset Arts, The Royal West of England Academy, Bath Spa University and the University of Bath.

Since its launch in 2017, GoWrite has developed 73 new plays in areas with no new writing provision, which have gone on to be produced at Hampstead Theatre, Vault Festival, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and abroad; donated 1151 tickets to Papatango productions; run 42 workshops for 931 adults without professional training; run 64 workshops in state schools for 1124 students otherwise with only limited access to drama education; and provided individual advice to 187 writers.

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