Emily White has been announced as the recipient of the Royal Court Theatre’s 52nd George Devine Award for her play Atlantis, picking up a £15,000 prize.
Atlantis follows the inhabitants of a seaside village in north Wales, who discover they are to become Britain’s first climate change refugees, as the council plans to abandon the town to the waves. The play follows four generations of the same family over a fifty-three year period, as they grow older and find ways to cope with the crisis hanging over their heads.
Commenting on the panel’s decision, 2021 Award judge Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti said:
‘The writers on this year’s shortlist explore a rich variety of stories and forms, highlighting that British playwriting is in rude health. Each piece impressed us and inspired a lively and provocative debate.
However, one play stood out because of its extraordinary ambition and humanity. Atlantis is at once intimate and epic, fearless and tender, it is family drama and devastating global commentary. This play’s sheer brilliance moved and thrilled every single member of the panel. Emily White is an outstanding talent and we are delighted to announce her as the winner of the 2021 George Devine Award. ‘
The judging panel for 2021 included playwrights Luke Barnes, James Graham and Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, directors Justin Audibert and Lisa Blair and actress Kate O’Flynn.
‘I cannot express how honoured and grateful I am to receive this award after being shortlisted alongside such incredible talent, I did not expect to win and to say I feel overwhelmed is an understatement. The list of previous winners is full of writers I admire and to see my name sit alongside them is a surreal experience.
Writing this play was my lifeline during lockdown both creatively and financially and I would like to thank Tamara Harvey, Raphael Martin, and Theatre Clwyd for supporting me and my work throughout such a difficult period. I couldn’t have written Atlantis without them.’ said Emily White.
Emily trained as an actor at RADA, was part of the Channel 4 Screenwriting course, BBC Wales Writersroom and ETT’s Nationwide Voices. Her play Pavilion premiered at Theatr Clwyd in 2019. She also has a television series in development.
The 2021 shortlist included Travis Alabanza for Overflow, Caroline Bird for Red Ellen, Gareth Farr for Shandyland, Sami Ibrahim for Brick Shit House, Zodwa Nyoni for The Darkest Part of Night, Lulu Raczka for Close Your Eyes, And Think of England, Tom Stuart for Burn Baby Burn and White for Atlantis.
Formed in 1966 in memory of the Royal Court’s founding Artistic Director George Devine, the Award is recognised as one of the most prestigious in new writing and seeks to shine a light on a playwright of promise.