Theatre503's 2018 Playwriting Award Finalists Announced
Five extraordinary new voices make up the finalists of Theatre503's 2018 International Playwriting Award. Mathilde Dratwa, Gillian Greer, Joel MacCormack, Philana Imade Omorotionmwan and Danusia Samal have been chosen from 2,055 scripts sent in from 49 countries.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 22 November at The Bridge Theatre, selected by a panel chaired by Erica Whyman (Chair of Theatre503 and Deputy Artistic Director, RSC). The panel is Lyn Gardner, Stephen Beresford, Abigail Gonda, Chinonyerem Odimba, Roy Williams, Alice Birch and Lisa Spirling.
The winner will receive £6,000 and a guaranteed world premiere production at Theatre503 in 2019. They will follow 2014 joint winners Paul Murphy (Valhalla) and Bea Roberts (And Then Come The Nightjars) and 2016 winner Andrew Thompson (In Event of Moone Disaster, winner of Best Writer at The 2018 Stage Debut Awards). Four of the five 2016 finalists have gone on to have full-length runs produced, with three at Theatre503 including Br'er Cotton for which Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm has been nominated for the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Awards.
The finalists are:
Mathilde Dratwa | Milk and Gall
Mathilde is originally from Belgium, living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of Cambridge University and Drama Centre London. She is a Dramatist Guild Playwriting Fellow, a member of Dorset Theatre Festival's Women Artists Writing Group and a two-time Pulizer Center grant recipient. A seasoned educator, Mathilde is a Master Teaching Artist for Roundabout Theatre Company, the New Victory, the Shakespeare Society and the School of The New York Times. She is the co-founder of Moms-in-Film, a former member of New York Foundation for the Arts' Immigrant Artist Program and a former co-leader of the FilmShop collective.
Milk and Gall holds up a microscope to the experience of being a new mother under Trump. The personal and the political collide in this funny, surrealist play exploring the terror of the mundane; Vera is trapped in a world of diapers, breast pumps and padsicles while everyone else she knows is out marching. A brilliantly theatrical play with bold ambition.
Gillian Greer | Meat
Gillian is a playwright and dramaturg from Dublin who has seen her work performed in The Abbey in Dublin, The Traverse in Edinburgh and all manner of London fringe venues, including Theatre503. Her debut full length play Petals was nominated for the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play in 2015 and is currently being adapted for radio. She currently works as Senior Reader at The National Theatre and Head of Theatre and Performance at VAULT Festival.
Meat explores two ex-lovers who meet for a night of food, drink and reminiscing about old times. But Max has something to tell Ronan, a revelation that will set them on a collision course like no other. As revelations and conversations about sexual assault become all the more prevalent in Irish society and beyond, two people are desperately trying to make sense of one bad night, seven years ago. Meat introduces a distinct theatrical voice with vibrant energy and a play with real teeth.
Joel MacCormack | In That Short Space
Joel is from Croydon and trained as an actor at RADA. His acting credits include work at Hampstead Theatre, The RSC, Orange Tree Theatre and Wolf Hall and Ready Player One for Film & TV. In That Short Space is his first full-length play.
In That Short Space is based on interviews and research connected to the terrifying statistic that 'suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50'. It follows Kayleigh, whose partner Adam has killed himself 18 months prior to the action of the play. She sets about searching her memory to locate the precise moment that she lost him, hoping to clear the mystery shrouding his death. But when she discovers a life lived in secret shame, the moment seems to trace further and further back and it becomes difficult to see if she could have done anything at all. A powerful, poignant and emotional play exploring the consequences of male suicide and the people who are left behind.
Philana Imade Omorotionmwan | Before Evening Comes
Philana is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her writing frequently considers how the processes by which people are othered can often lead to our bodies feeling like prisons. A 2018-19 Playwrights' Center Jerome Fellow, she has been a semi-finalist for the 2017 Relentless Award, a two-time Heideman Award finalist, and a finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship and the Playwrights Realm's Scratchpad Series. Philana earned a BA in English at Stanford University and completed an MFA in Playwriting at OU in 2018.
Before Evening Comes begins in the year 2083 and explores a time where the perceived threat young boys of colour pose has finally been eliminated. The government mandates that once a boy turns thirteen, his right leg is to be amputated just above the knee. Time begins with young Totome excited to meet "the butcher" (James) and to finally become a man. Totome's mother Mary, hopes his talent for tap dancing will allow him to stay whole. Time rewinds and fast-forwards as Mary does all she can to protect Totome and her other sons from a society that would cut them down before they've fully grown. Before Evening Comes is a terrifying allegory for a devastating future that is painfully rooted in the past and the present.
Danusia Samal | Out of Sorts
Danusia is an actress, writer and singer from London who spent part of her childhood in the Middle East. She trained at the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Central School of Speech and Drama. In 2018, Danusia wrote and performed Busking It, a gig theatre piece inspired by her 10 years as a London busker. Busking It originated at the RSC Making Mischief Festival and was later programmed at Soho Theatre, Pleasance Edinburgh, HighTide, and Shoreditch Town Hall. Danusia is an alumnus of BBC's London Voices, Tamasha Playwrights, and Soho Theatre's Writer's Lab. Danusia works as a drama facilitator with young people, refugees and the elderly and is passionate about writing a wide range of voices and telling the stories often unseen onstage.
Out of Sorts Zara has spent her life being two people, and neither of them seem to be good enough. Living in two different worlds and being pulled in different directions she is losing her way. When her parents intervene to 'fix things', she is forced to confront her prejudice, and the charade begins to unravel. Over a family dinner and a boozy party in her flat, she finally tells the truth and works out what kind of person she might just be. Out of Sorts is a rich, funny, layered and beautifully characterised comic drama examining the conflicts that arise for the children of refugee migrants raised in the UK within two very different cultures.
Theatre503's International Playwriting Award was established in 2014 and is an unprecedented opportunity for emerging playwrights to be recognised for writing an outstanding, original piece of work for the stage. It builds upon the foundation of the venue's reputation for engaging with the next generation of playwrights. This award has been made possible by the generous support of The Carne Trust, and publishing partners Nick Hern Books.
The award is one of Theatre503's many initiatives to discover, support and nurture playwrights. Others include:
- An open script submissions policy throughout the year receiving approximately 1,000 scripts
- 503Five - an 18-month residency for five UK resident playwrights offering commissions, masterclasses and ongoing development.
- Rapid Write Response - a short play initiative in which writers of all levels of experience write a 10-minute play inspired by a full-length Theatre503 production.
- Writers Nights - on the first Wednesday of each four-week run, writers get discount tickets, meet the literary team and submit for Rapid Write Response.
- 503Features - week-long curated events wherein new and established writers are commissioned to develop new work around a chosen theme.
The Theatre503 International Playwriting Award is open to submissions from anyone who has yet to have had a full-length play produced professionally in a subsidised London, or major regional/international venue for 4 weeks or more.