This year’s The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2022 was announced yesterday, 14 November 2022, at a ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
The biennial prize is a partnership between property company Bruntwood, a major supporter of the arts, and world-class producing theatre, the Royal Exchange Theatre, in Manchester.
Nathan Queeley-Dennis, an actor and writer born in Birmingham, won the overall 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting for his debut play Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz, a joyful galloping hymn to Black friendship and love and tender masculinity which follows Nathaniel, a young man on his journey of self-discovery as he explores Black masculinity through Beyoncé lyrics, techno raves and the deeply intimate relationship a man has with his barber.
The judges said, “Nathan’s voice bursts off the page in this vibrant, laugh-out-loud, and ultimately moving tribute to being young and on the rise in Birmingham. In a moment when joy is so easily diminished, this absolutely joyful shout feels like the most radical, political statement of all: to remind us that our birthright as humans is not just to survive, but to thrive.”
Martha Loader, an Ipswich-based writer, producer and actor, won the Judges Award for Bindweed, a ‘skilfully crafted, gripping inquiry that attempts to go to the root of violence against women’, and which explores domestic violence from within a community-led perpetrator group programme and its effect on individual lives.
Patrick Hughes won the North West Original New Voice Award and Residency for Leave the Morning to the Morning, a story exploring family dynamics, speaking the truth, and the right to live and die on your own terms, which the judges praised for its “intimate exploration of the wrenching complexities of mental health.”
Roshelle Fong, a Hong Kong-born, multidisciplinary artist based in Naarm/Melbourne Australia won the International Award for The Red Lead 红铅, a portrait of sisterhood, survival and an attempt to rise up in 1542 Ming Dynasty China, which the judges said is “bold and surprising in its visual imagery”.
14 plays were shortlisted from a 130-play longlist, considered across four categories. The overall winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting takes home £16,000, and winner of the Judges Award for a ‘runner up’ is worth £8,000. The other categories are the North West Original New Voice Award and Residency, which is new this year in recognition of the Prize’s Manchester home; and the International Award, from partners in Australia, Canada and the US.
All winners enter a development process with the Royal Exchange Theatre in an endeavour to bring their work to production, with the winner of the North West Original New Voice Award and Residency also having access to an additional £10,000 fund dedicated to their professional development at the Royal Exchange Theatre during a bespoke one-year residency in partnership with Bruntwood and the Oglesby Charitable Trust.
The 14 scripts have been judged by a panel of prestigious names across the arts industry, including Miranda Cromwell, Olivier Award winning Theatre Director; Coronation Street’s Julie Hesmondhalgh, award-winning actor and supporter of the Royal Exchange Theatre; Kimber Lee, winner of the inaugural Bruntwood Prize International Award in 2019; Farai Matekenya Nhakaniso, Local Exchange Ambassador for the Leigh area for the Royal Exchange Theatre; Kate Vokes, Non-Executive Director at Bruntwood, and Roy Alexander Weise, Joint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre. The Prize is chaired this year by Amanda Parker, Founder of Inc Arts UK, a national centre for advocacy for the creative, contractual and economic rights of the UK’s ethnically diverse arts sector workforce.
Watch the ceremony, below.
VIDEO: Watch the ceremony
2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting shortlisted plays
The 9 UK scripts were in the running for the overall £16,000 prize:
TIME, LIKE THE SEA by Georgia Bruce
Georgia Bruce is a writer and actor from London. As an actor, their theatre credits include Wuthering Heights (Wise Children), Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical (ROYO) and Malory Towers (Wise Children); TV credits include It’s A Sin (Channel 4). Time, Like the Sea is their first play, which explores lesbianism and queerness through different generations.
Olivier-Award nominated actor David Dawson plays a leading role in Michael Grandage directed My Policeman, opposite Harry Styles and Emma Corrin – due for release in early 2022 – following a varied career on television. His play The Institute is set in Berlin in 1919 and based on the true story of people who dedicated their lives to abolishing ‘Paragraph 175’, the criminalisation of homosexuality.
THE CHINA PLAY by Jeremy Green
Jeremy Green is a playwright whose works include Snakes (Young Vic); The Wolfgang Chase (BBC Radio); Fairy Tale and a version of Chekhov’s The Proposal (Pleasance); and Lizzie Siddal (Arcola). His latest play The China Play focuses on an Asian-American interpreter who finds herself unexpectedly thrust into a summit meeting between two Presidents, where nuances of language collide with diplomatic tension.
LEAVE THE MORNING TO THE MORNING by Patrick Hughes
Paddy Hughes is a playwright, dramaturg and script reader based in Liverpool, who seeks to support and develop new writers in the North-West of England. Leave the Morning to the Morning is a story of heartbreak, speaking the truth and the right to live and die on your own terms.
Based in Ipswich, Martha Loader is a writer, producer and actor, who won the ‘Award for Promising Young Playwright’ presented by Richard Curtis at INK Festival 2019. She is an alumni of the Mercury Playwrights, Soho Writers Lab and HighTide Writers programmes. Bindweed follows the facilitator of a perpetrator programme for domestic abusers, whose life outside of work begins to buckle.
ALLAH IN THE WALLS by Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi
Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi is a British-Iranian playwright and screenwriter born and raised in Yorkshire. Her work has been staged at the Southwark Playhouse, the Arcola Theatre, and the North Wall Arts Centre, with her debut full-length show MADDY premiering at the VAULT Festival in 2019. Allah in the Walls follows Fairuza, who, with her family, takes in an old childhood friend for the duration of Ramadan. Everything is not as it seems, however, and Hannah finds herself trying to keep her past hidden in the midst of the dysfunctional family.
Jill O’Halloran grew up in Leigh, now living in Liverpool. Prior to her writing career she was a practising barrister, the first in her family to attend university. She has an MA in Television and Film Scriptwriting from Salford University. Three follows Carol on her wedding anniversary, looking back with fierce jealousy to the younger woman her husband once loved – her younger self.
BULLRING TECHNO MAKEOUT JAMZ by Nathan Queeley-Dennis
Nathan Queeley-Dennis is an actor born and raised in Erdington, Birmingham. His acting credits include Black Love (Kiln Theatre) written by Chinonyerem Odimba, Really Big and Really Loud (Paines Plough) written by Phoebe Eclair-Powell and A TASTE OF HONEY (National Theatre). Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz is NQD’s first play, which follows Nathaniel; a young man on his journey of self-discovery as he explores Black masculinity through Beyonce lyrics, techno raves and the deeply intimate relationship a man has with his barber.
Writer Jane Upton’s plays include The Price of Home (Paines Plough & Derby Theatre), Finding Nana (Pleasance Edinburgh Festival) and All the Little Lights (Fifth Word, UK tour, Arcola Theatre). (the) Woman follows M, who is trying to write a play about motherhood, but in the 21st Century it is not sexy to be ‘just’ a mum.
Five scripts have been shortlisted for the International Award:
THE RED LEAD 红铅 by Roshelle Fong
Hong Kong born multi-disciplinary artist Roshelle Fong wrote, directed and produced the Melbourne Fringe award-winning immersive show ‘nomnomnom’ in 2018, and is currently completing a Master of Theatre (Writing) at University of Melbourne’s Victoria College of the Arts. The Red Lead 红铅 is set in 1542 Ming Dynasty China, painting an anachronistic portrait of sisterhood, survival and an attempt to rise up.
Dave Harris is a poet and playwright from West Philly, who has coincidentally been shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize before for his play Tambo & Bones in 2019, which is seeing its London premiere in 2023. His latest play Watch Me takes place in subconscious void of an interracial couple from their first date to their first time, to a reckoning with heritage, ancestry, and Black Jesus.
Kirsty Marillier is a South African / Australian, award-winning playwright and actor. She is best known for her work Orange Thrower – which had its 2022 stage premiere with Griffin Theatre Company and National Theatre of Parramatta. Her acting credits include Home and Away, The Greenhouse (Netflix) and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Her new work, The Zap, is a play of power and potential, resistance and resilience, ambition and fitting in. A high intensity, radical romp imagining our very near future, intersectional feminism and fake ass news.
NO PINK DICKS by Moreblessing Maturure
Moreblessing Maturure is a multi-award-winning Zimbabwean/Australian inter-disciplinary artist, TEDx Speaker and founder of FOLK Magazine. Her written work across literature, stage and screen has included recent engagements with Screen Australia, Associate Development Producer at Kojo Studios and Sydney Theatre Company (Resident Writer, 2017-19). Across a series of scenes, couples and relationships, No Pink Dicks picks at our perpetual (dis)comfort with the space between the personal and the political.
WAY BACK WHEN by Dylan van den Berg
Dylan van den Berg is a Palawa writer originally from the northeast of lutruwita/Tasmania and an emerging artist-in-residence with the Sydney Theatre Company. For his work, Dylan has received the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Playwriting, the Victorian Premier’s Award for Drama, the Griffin Award for New Australian Writing, the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award, and has twice been shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwrights Award. way back when is set in a post-colonial Tasmania where three women meet, reimagining the colonisation of Tasmania as a Gothic revenge drama.