Playwright Ava Wong Davies has won the Ambassador Theatre Group Playwright’s Prize in association with Platform Presents for her play Graceland.
She wins a £5,000 prize.
Wong Davies’ play is also going to be staged at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in 2023, directed by Anna Himali Howard, as it was developed as part of the Royal Court’s Introduction to Playwriting group. The play runs from 9 February to 11 March 2023 at the Royal Court.
Wong Davies said: “I’m hugely honoured to have won. To have even been one of the finalists was an enormous pleasure – congratulations to everyone who submitted.”
Five runners-up were also announced, sponsored by TimeOut. The runners-up, who win a £1,000 cash prize, are Rhys Hastings for Caceroleo; Richard Ely for Extrapolation; Philippa Lawford for Ikaria; Jess Edwards for Spooky Action at a Distance; and Isaac Tomiczek for VAR (Very Audible Racism).
Mark Cornell, CEO of Ambassador Theatre Group, said: “Our industry is all about telling stories. We must continue to encourage and recognise the extraordinary talent of the playwrights that bring these stories to life. I was particularly delighted to see that we have seen a 50% increase in script submissions compared to 2021, surely an indication of the growth in popularity that this prestigious prize is enjoying. Huge congratulations to Ava, all of the finalists and to every single writer for sharing their hard work with the world. I hope this wonderful initiative encourages any and all emerging playwrights to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard and tell their stories”.
Isabella Macpherson, Founder of Platform Presents, said: “We are astounded at Platform Presents by the formidable number of scripts entered this year, the brilliantly engaged judging panel, and of course by Ava’s exquisite play.”
This year’s prize received 1,174 script submissions, up more that 50% than in 2021, with 10 finalists shortlisted. The submissions were judged by a panel of industry experts including Aki Omoshaybi (Actor, Writer and Director), Amy Gardner (Finite Films & TV), Caroline Dyott (Ambassador Theatre Group), Charlotte Colbert (Director), Caroline McGinn (Editor in Chief, Time Out), Dipal Acharya (Writer & Journalist), Dougray Scott (Actor & Producer), Helena Lee (Writer & Journalist), Isabella Macpherson (Platform Presents) Jack Farthing (Actor), Jasmine Lee-Jones (Writer & Actor), Laura Weir (Writer & Journalist), Pearl Mackie (Actor), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Actor) and Zoë Rocha (Producer).
A West End fundraiser was also held ahead of the awards, co-produced with Finite Films & TV founded by Amy Gardner. Called ‘The Joy of Text’, it ran at the Savoy Theatre, directed by Josie Rourke, written by Josie Rourke and Michael Stranney, and performed by Aki Omoshaybi, Bessie Carter, David Mumeni, Indira Varma, Lizzy Connolly, Nicholas Pinnock, Nicholas Burns, Nicola Stephenson, Oliver Chris, Pearl Mackie, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Robert Bathurst, Ronni Ancona, Rosalie Craig, Sally Phillips, Tamzin Outhwaite and Tracy Ann Oberman.
The Platform Presents Playwright’s Prize was founded in 2018 to nurture and provide more opportunities for playwrights. Platform Presents aims to create a platform for rising star talent – actors, writers and directors, with a particular interest in female voices, through theatre and film.