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Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award Winner Announced

Sonali Bhattacharyya will receive an award of £9,500, an agreement to option the production of the play to Theatre Uncut and the award partners.

Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award Winner Announced

The Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award winner was announced as Sonali Bhattacharyya. Her play Chasing Hares presents the Jatra (Bengali folk theatre) stage, the factory floor and the routes of delivery drivers as sites of resistance and transformation in Britain and India.

At a ground-breaking online binaural award ceremony an extract from Chasing Hares was performed alongside excerpts from three of the other shortlisted plays: Esther by Lorna French; Great Northern Divers by Jordon Grant and Playfight by Julia Grogan. The shortlist also included Give a Man a Bible by Afsaneh Gray, Burnout by Louise Gooding and 44 Sex Acts in One Week by David Finnigan.

The binaural award ceremony will remain available for everyone everywhere to listen to at https://www.theatreuncut.com/award2021

The award was started to find the next generation of political playwrights wanting to explore the big issues that affect our lives today. At a time where questioning the political fabric of society feels particularly important, Theatre Uncut will support and amplify these new plays, examining the political in its widest sense - from the domestic to the global.

The first of the Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award plays to reach the stage will be The Merthyr Stigmatist by Lisa Parry that was shortlisted for the inaugural award and will premiere at the Sherman Theatre directed by the company's Co-Artistic Director Emma Callander from 27th May - 12th June 2021. www.shermantheatre.co.uk

Emma Callander and Hannah Price, Co-Artistic Directors of Theatre Uncut, says, "We are delighted to announce today that Sonali Bhattacharyya is the winner of the second Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award, with her play 'Chasing Hares'. This is a brave, bold play that explores the big issue of exploitation in the workplace, in all its forms, with integrity, humour and heart. We have been overwhelmed with the quality of the entrants this year, even more extraordinary in a pandemic. We want to thank all the writers who entered, and especially the writers of our seven brilliant shortlisted plays. We can't wait to get on with the work of getting these plays out there, back on our stages where they belong."

Winner Sonali Bhattacharyya says, "Chasing Hares is a play that pulls together so many precious threads from my personal and family experience, and it means so much to me that it's won the Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award.

The starting point for the play was seeing the employment precarity my extended family in West Bengal have experienced for decades start to become the norm here, in the UK. The resistance to this 'uberisation' of work in the West also echoes the struggle my uncle and others have faced as organisers and trade unionists in Kolkata over the years. I wanted to explore the complexities of fighting to retain your dignity - and your income - in the face of indifference from employers beholden only to market forces. The impact this has on your soul, your imagination, your safety, and your family. How transgressive it is in this environment to care about others as much as you care about yourself.

I wanted to write about 'jatra' or Bengali folk theatre, as an art form that has developed from dramatisations of religious stories from the Mahabharata to plays that reflect the lives of real people and events. Now, jatra is struggling to compete with Hindi cinema and cable TV, so I see the persistent love for jatra from the characters in Chasing Hares as a leap of faith. A leap of faith similar to that needed to believe things can change, and to act on that belief.

Since I started writing the first draft in 2018, Uber and Deliveroo riders have won landmark cases here and in the US, and we've seen the biggest strike in human history in India.

Chasing Hares is a love letter to this movement, to the power of ordinary people working together, collectively, to the power of storytelling to affect change."

Theatre Uncut partnered with theatres in the UK's four capital cities: the Young Vic in London, the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

Sonali Bhattacharyya will receive an award of £9,500, an agreement to option the production of the play to Theatre Uncut and the award partners, and the offer of publication by Nick Hern Books.

The Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award was launched in 2018, receiving 444 entries from across the UK. The wining play two Palestinians go dogging by Sami Ibrahim was due to be presented at the Royal Court in co-production with Theatre Uncut in April 2020. Shortlisted play The Merthyr Stigmatist by Lisa Parry, will receive its premiere at the Sherman Theatre, directed by Emma Callander.



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