Out of 1,938 submissions, Wish List by Katherine Soper was declared the competition’s winner on Tuesday afternoon. The winner was announced at a glitzy ceremony attended by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, which was hosted at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre by Kirsty Lang.
Katherine Soper, who currently works in a perfumery on Regent Street in London, is the winner of the 10th anniversary Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015—Europe’s biggest playwriting prize. She wins a prize of £16,000, and a residency at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
Wish List is Soper’s first play, and it tells the story of Tamsin, the sole carer of her brother Dean, whose crippling OCD leaves him housebound. Now that ‘Help to Work’ has cut all his benefits, she’s taken a zero-hour contract. If she doesn’t pack faster, whilst keeping her brother on track, she’ll lose out to the next in a long line of temps, and soon they could both lose their lifelines. A sensitive and delicately powerful play about trying to survive, when every system is against you.
Currently working in a perfumery on Regent Street, Katherine has also worked in Manchester’s Harvey Nichols. She said that, “This is the best boost of writerly confidence I could imagine.” Wish List was written as her dissertation play at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She also took part in Royal Court’s Writers’ Group in Autumn 2014, and developed a short play, Sundries, with the Young Friends of the Almeida earlier this year.
The competition, which runs every two years, is a unique partnership between the Royal Exchange Theatre and property company Bruntwood. The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is open to writers in the UK and Ireland aged 16 and over. In the award’s ten year history the Bruntwood prize has given more than £160,000 to 17 different playwrights and has also developed 16 complete productions with 28 UK theatres.
Due to the sheer mass of submissions—the second highest tally in the competition’s history—the judges decided to present an additional Judges’ award! The plays chosen were: Sound of Silence by Chloe Todd Fordham, Parliament Square by James Fritz, How My Light is Spent by Alan Harris and The Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver. Chair of Bruntwood and fellow judge, Michael Oglesby said on deciding to award an extra prize: “The extraordinary strength of this year’s shortlist led us to make the unprecedented decision in our tenth year to award an extra prize to reflect the exciting ambition and unique talent that made it to the final ten.”
Writers of all levels of experience are invited to enter plays, which must be original, unperformed and unproduced. To find out more information about 2017’s competition, go here.
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