Manchester is a UK leader in theatre, home both to longstanding vital institutions such as the Royal Exchange Theatre and new, dynamic venues such as HOME. Further cementing the city’s status as an important centre for new writing is the Bruntwood Prize, the largest playwriting competition in Europe. 

Established in 2005, the biennial award is run by the Royal Exchange Theatre in partnership with the property company Bruntwood, and aims to promote and support playwrights across the country.

A rich legacy

The prize is open to playwrights of all backgrounds and levels of experience, who are asked to put forward a script of an unperformed play that they have written. Each script is marked anonymously by a team of professional readers before a top ten are shortlisted to be reviewed by a panel of judges.

A final four winners are selected at a ceremony in November, and each winner is given a share of a £40,000 prize fund; sometimes even gaining the opportunity to have their productions put on stage.

In the video at the top of this page, previous winners talk about the effect that the Bruntwood Prize has had on their lives and careers.

Ten years on

The last Bruntwood Prize took place in 2015, which saw the organisation mark its tenth anniversary. It proved to be a particularly close year, with prize chairman Michael Oglesby CBE calling for an additional winner to be added to the original four.

The overall winner was Katherine Soper with her play Wish List, which went on to be staged at the Royal Exchange Theatre and then at the Royal Court Upstairs in London.

The first two videos below contain a round-up of all of the excitement and emotion from the ceremony, along with testimonies from theatre professionals, previous winners and other creatives behind the Bruntwood Prize to mark the tenth anniversary.

Getting involved

The prize is designed to inspire people of all ages to give their imagination ultimate freedom and, to encourage this, the Bruntwood organisers put on a series of live online workshops in the run-up to the 2015 edition. In the third video listed above, leading British playwright Simon Stephens shares some insights and tips on how to write a successful play in a session with aspiring writers.

This year a new series of online workshops will be launched, offering advice and training on topics ranging from making audiences laugh to political writing. Abhishek Majumbar, the playwright and theatre director based in Bangalore, will run a live workshop on 8 April in collaboration with James Madison University in Delhi.

The workshop will discuss the development of ideas and themes among playwrights in the Indian subcontinent, highlighting the socio-political factors behind these shifts. Find out more via the link below.

A fresh pair of eyes

Entries for the 2017 Bruntwood Prize are now open, and this year promises to be as compelling as ever. On the judging panel are diverse cultural figures such as the actor Don Warrington; Matthew Xia, the Associate Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange; and this year’s panel chair Kirsty Lang, the BBC broadcaster and journalist.

In the fourth video listed above, the judges introduce themselves and offer their thoughts on what it is that makes the Bruntwood Prize so special.

The Bruntwood Prize is vital to the ecology of British theatre, ensuring that each year talented playwrights from diverse backgrounds gain the opportunity to showcase work that might otherwise never find a voice. By the time submissions close on 5 June, another four of the UK’s most creative minds will be one step closer to gaining the recognition their work deserves.

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