Women’s prize for playwriting longlist is ‘politically charged’, say producers | Stage

The longlisted writers for a brand new prize for feminine playwrights have created “satisfyingly puzzling” characters and “formidable, politically charged” performs, say the award’s producers.

The Ladies’s prize for playwriting, open to writers within the UK and Eire who determine as feminine, was launched final yr. Submissions closed in early March and the prize has grown in significance within the wake of coronavirus, which led venues to shut that month and has since devastated the theatre business. Producer Ellie Keel, whose firm launched the prize with Paines Plough (run by Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner), warned that fewer inventive dangers will probably be taken by the business after the pandemic. “It’s a traditionally well-trodden path that work by girls might be seen as dangerous,” stated Keel, who needs to “drive the theatre business to rejuvenate somewhat than regress”.

For Keel, the prize is a galvanising motion in addition to an award, supposed to champion and nurture a group of feminine writers. She drew inspiration from the continuing influence of the Ladies’s prize for fiction, first awarded in 1996, which was arrange after the 1991 Booker prize shortlist included no feminine novelists. Keel stated the Ladies’s prize for playwriting – in partnership with 45North and in affiliation with Sonia Friedman Productions – is a “name to arms”, political in nature and goals “to redress the gender imbalance within the variety of performs being produced on nationwide levels”.

Tanya Reynolds and Rebekah Murrell in Scenes With Women by Miriam Battye on the Royal Court docket. Battye is among the many nominees for the Ladies’s prize for playwriting. : Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

An archive of every yr’s longlisted playwrights will probably be stored on the prize’s web site as a useful resource for theatre programmers. Keel stated that the subject material of this yr’s performs is vastly wide-ranging – “not remotely confined to ‘girls’s points’ or ‘home’ matters” – and that as a result of they didn’t prescribe a specific house for performs to be written for, some are quick and compact whereas others are sprawling epics. She believes the excessive variety of entries (1,169) is right down to the inclusive and inspiring framing of the entry standards. “We perceive the intimidating nature of submitting your work to a prize, particularly early on in your writing profession, and we welcomed performs in any respect levels of growth and from writers from all backgrounds.”

The prize fund of £12,000 is a major monetary funding in a single author, which Keel hopes will allow a interval of monetary safety by which to create extra work. A number of the writers have made the longlist with their first play; others have already had acclaimed performs produced equivalent to Isley Lynn, Yolanda Mercy, Miriam Battye, Camilla Whitehill, Julie Tsang and Eve Leigh. Writers have been requested to submit scripts with a masking letter about themselves and the circumstances by which they wrote the play.

Tom Penn and Nadia Nadarajah in Midnight Movie by Eve Leigh, who is featured in the longlist.

Tom Penn and Nadia Nadarajah in Midnight Film by Eve Leigh, who’s featured within the longlist. : Tristram Kenton/the Guardian

Earlier this yr, analysis performed by the playwright Jennifer Tuckett and the Sphinx theatre firm instructed theatre’s gender hole had grown in key areas in contrast with eight years in the past, when the Guardian performed an in-depth examine of the problem. Particular methods have been adopted by some organisations to handle the disparity. In 2019, creative director Matthew Xia dedicated to commissioning solely feminine playwrights for his first three years operating Actors Touring Firm. The Nationwide Theatre has set a goal that by March 2021, 50% of residing writers for its levels will probably be feminine and 50% of the administrators engaged on its levels will probably be feminine.

Round half a dozen “finalist” performs will probably be chosen from the longlist for the Ladies’s prize for playwriting and can go to a panel of judges chaired by literary agent Mel Kenyon. The profitable play will probably be co-produced by Ellie Keel Productions and Paines Plough.

The oldest worldwide prize for feminine playwrights is the Susan Smith Blackburn prize, which was arrange in 1977 and awarded earlier this yr to Lucy Prebble for her play A Very Costly Poison.

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