From modern day inequities to porn addiction, betting shops, spiritual and sexual liberation and an octopus taught to believe in God, 17 new plays have been longlisted for the 40th anniversary of Soho Theatre’s Character 7 sponsored Verity Bargate Award.

From over 1200 submissions, the longlist represents the very best in new writing today with many written over the last two years during lockdown. The longlist showcases a variety of themes and form – from epic dramas, comedies, thrillers and heartfelt autobiographical stories to theatrical leaps of imagination – proving how strong the craft of playwriting remains throughout the UK and Ireland.

This year’s award is judged by a panel of industry experts including past Soho playwrights Theresa Ikoko (Girls, 2015, Soho Theatre), James Graham (Tory Boyz, 2008, and Monster Raving Loony, 2016, Soho Theatre) and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Mum, 2021, Soho Theatre), as well as April De Angelis (Jumpy, Royal Court and West End). The award is sponsored by Character 7 and chaired by film and television producer, Character 7’s Stephen Garrett. The Award honours Verity Bargate, Soho’s co-founder who passionately championed new writing during her time at the small but hugely influential fringe theatre company, Soho Poly.

Verity Bargate Award 2021 longlist
A Woman Walks Into a Bank                  Roxy Cook
A Young Man Comes                              Alan Mahon
Bet Junkie                                                Daniel Ward
Boys On The Verge of Tears                   Sam Grabiner
CAP: A Medicinal Love Story                           Mika Onyx Johnson
Everything I’m Thinking, All of the Time           Sam Ward
Friday at the masjid                                          maatin
Hallelujah                                                 Temi Wilkey
King Troll (The Fawn)                              Sonali Bhattacharyya
Lady Dealer                                                       Martha Watson Allpress
Octopolis                                                  Marek Horn
Porn Play                                                 Sophia Chetin-Leuner
Private Adult Things                                          Georgia Green
Samuel Takes a Break in Male Dungeon
No.5 After a Long but Generally
Successful Day of Tours                                   Rhianna Ilube
Sick Children Karoke                               Gareth Jandrell
Succession Theme Is My Ringtone                           Joe Kerridge
Working Men                                            Benjamin Kuffuor

The longlisted playwrights for the Verity Bargate Award 2022 are:

Alan Mahon is a writer and actor from Ireland. His play LAD, co-written and performed with Rhys Dunlop premiered in Dublin in 2019 and London in 2020. A Young Man Comes marks his debut solo play. As an actor, he has most recently appeared in Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho.

Benjamin Kuffuor graduated from the National Film and Television School in 2011, his graduation script, YOUNGERS, was developed by Big Talk Productions for E4 and later aired on BBC America. He is one of a handful of British writers to be credited as a series creator before their 25th birthday. Benjamin is also a published playwright, his 2019 play AGELESS written for NT Connections toured the UK before being staged at the Dorfman. He was featured on the BBC Talent hotlist 2017 after writing an original series pilot as part of the BBC 2016 TV Drama Writers’ Programme. Most recently, he served as Shadow Writer for KAOS (Netflix/Sister pictures), and contributed as a story consultant on WILDERNESS (Amazon/Firebird Productions). He continues to develop original work across a range of medium. 

Daniel Ward is a writer and actor from South London. A graduate of the NYT and LAMDA, he has performed in theatre’s all over the country whilst continually writing and honing his artistic voice. This led to his debut play THE CANARY AND THE CROW which opened at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2019) to rousing accolades and sold-out performances. It went on to receive the Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence before embarking on a UK tour, which included a run at Theatre Royal Stratford East, and ended 2020 on a high by winning Daniel the George Devine Award.

Gareth Jandrell’s first full length play Pure O was performed at the Kings Head Theatre. Gareth has gone on to adapt Blood Wedding, Metamorphosis, Faust and Thebes for The Faction, Thebes going on to be published by Bloomsbury/Methuen. Gareth wrote The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster for Dawn State which was performed at the Pleasance Courtyard and tourned nationally. Gareth’s play Alkaline was shortlisted for the Papatango Prize and his play The Rub was one of the winners of Bolton Octagon’s Top 5 competition.

Georgia Green is a writer and award-nominated director. She sometimes writes about reconciling her Ashkenazi Jewish heritage with her Britishness, sometimes about grief and sometimes about joy. As a writer she is currently on The Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writer’s Program and has previously been a member of of Soho Writers’ Lab, HighTide Academy and Royal Court Writers. Her short radio play Breech won the Bitterpill Painkiller Prize and was recorded and released featuring actor Jessica Clark, she has written for Southwark Playhouse Elder’s Company and her play How to Kill Your Mother was chosen from over 2000 submissions to feature in the PINT-SIZED Festival at The Bunker Theatre. She is a mentor on the Playwrighting MFA at Central School of Speech and Drama. As director her work includes Invisible (Bush Theatre), Pilgrims (Guildhall), Three Sisters (LAMDA), Human Animals (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama), Twelfth Night (ALRA), Parliament Square (Rose Bruford), OUTSIDE: Three new plays by Kalungi Ssebandeke, Sonali Bhattacharyya and Zoe Cooper (Orange Tree Theatre), Blue Stockings (LAMDA), You Got Older (LAMDA), The Mikvah Project (Orange Tree Theatre/ BBC RADIO 4, Nominated for Stage Award).

Joe Kerridge is a playwright from south east London. His work has been performed at Sheffield Theatres, MAC Birmingham, STYX & VAULT Festival, where he won an Innovation award. He has also been longlisted for the Papatango Prize and is a graduate of the Royal Court Writers’ Programme.

maatin is a London-based playwright, screenwriter, and dramaturg who focuses on Muslim storytelling. His work was selected for the Mono Box’s PLAYSTART 2019, longlisted for BBC Comedy Room 2020, and nominated for the Edinburgh TV Festival’s New Voice Awards 2021. He was selected for the Hampstead Theatre’s INSPIRE Programme 2020/21 and has worked with the Royal Court. He is currently a Creative Associate at Jermyn Street Theatre. He graduated from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with an MFA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media in 2020.

Marek Horn is a playwright from Dorset, currently based in South London. His debut play, Wild Swimming, premiered at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, having received a Pleasance Regional Partnership Award and a Ronald Duncan Prize. It later enjoyed a sell-out run at Bristol Old Vic and a radio version was commissioned for BBC Radio 4.  His latest play, Yellowfin, was produced at Southwark Playhouse in 2021 and was nominated for five Off West End Theatre Awards including Best New Play.

Martha Watson Allpress is a writer and actor from the Lincolnshire in the East Midlands. Her debut play; Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man that used to hit her); embarked on a tour in 2022, after a sold out run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2021. It is published with Nick Hern, and now in development for a screen adaptation. Her second play, Kick, won the Bill Cashmore Award, and was presented at the Lyric Hammersmith for a limited run earlier this year. Martha is also part of Hampstead Theatre’s INSPIRE Playwrighting Group, and is working toward a new piece with their dramaturgical support.

Mika Onyx Johnson is an actor, writer and performance artist from Nottingham now based in London. Select credits include, as an actor; Michael X (Almedia); Screw (Channel 4/STV Studios); Newark, Newark (Gold/UKTV); Reflection (BBC); The Girlfriend Experience (STARZ); Cyrano de Bergerac (Jamie Lloyd Company/West End/BAM) & as a writer; Pink Lemonade (Bush); My White Best Friend (Bunker).

Rhianna Ilube is a playwright and game-maker. She is Associate Director at Coney, a leading interactive theatre company, with a focus on bringing heritage sites and archives to life through play. She is an alumna of the Royal Court writer’s programme 2021 and the Oxford Playhouse Playmakers 2022. Her debut play, Samuel Takes A Break… was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting and Channel 4’s 4Stories. Her second play, We Are Here To Make Change!!!!!, was produced as part of the Royal Court’s SW1 programme in Spring 2022. Rhianna is now exploring writing for TV, and is a resident at House Productions.

Roxy Cook is a writer, director and dramaturg working across theatre and TV. After 5 years directing new writing (associate dir. Olivier award winning production ‘Rotterdam, assistant dir. to Lisa Spirling and Rob Drummond, dir. ‘Happy to Help’ at Park Theatre), she began writing in 2019. ‘A Woman Walks into a Bank’ is her debut play, and was developed with support from JW3 and the Park Theatre Script Accelerator program in 2019, finished in lockdown, and shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2021. Alongside writing and directing, Roxy works in script editing and development for Brock Media and Paper Entertainment respectively, and as a freelance script reader.

Sam Grabiner is a playwright. His play Next Year In Jerusalem! was developed as Resident Playwright at Papatango Theatre Company and is a winner of the Roundabout Theatre New Play Reading Series. He was a finalist for The O’Neill Theatre Centre’s National Playwrights Conference. His play Neptune was shortlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize and he co-runs the theatre/comedy company Pelican whose critically-acclaimed, physical comedy shows have toured the UK. He is a graduate of the clown school L’école Philippe Gaulier and has taken part in the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme.

Sam Ward is an award-winning writer, artist and performer, largely working under the name YESYESNONO. His writing has been performed across the world, with the first international premiere opening at Chicago Arts in 2020. His work has previously won the Total Theatre Award for an Emerging Artist and been shortlisted for the Total Theatre Award for Innovation. Work includes: Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist [2017], insert slogan here [2018] and the accident did not take place [2019]. He is currently working towards we were promised honey! which opens at Roundabout @ Summerhall in August 2022. His plays are published by Bloomsbury. He has worked extensively as a story editor and dramaturg for theatre, including work.txt by Nathan Ellis [2022], SWIM by Liz Richardson [2019] and BINGE! by Might Heart [2019].

Sonali Bhattacharyya is a graduate of the Royal Court Writers’ Group, the Old Vic 12, and Donmar Warehouse Future Forms Programme and recipient of the Bertha Foundation Artivism Award. She is currently under commission to Fifth Word, Kiln Theatre, Tara Arts and Donmar Warehouse, and is developing a drama series for television with Dancing Ledge Productions and an Augmented Reality project with Anagram. Her plays include the Sonia Friedman Production Award and Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award winning Chasing Hares (Young Vic Theatre), Two Billion Beats (Orange Tree Theatre), Megaball (National Theatre Learning), Slummers (Cardboard Citizens/Bunker Theatre), The Invisible Boy (Kiln Theatre) and 2066 (Almeida Theatre).

Sophia Chetin-Leuner is a writer and teacher from London. Her first play, SAVE + QUIT, was published by Nick Hern Books in 2017. She completed an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch in 2018 where she was the recipient of the Dalio Family Foundation Scholarship. She was a member of the Bush Emerging Writers Group in 2019.

Temi Wilkey is an actor & writer from North London. She studied English at Cambridge before training with the National Youth Theatre REP company in 2014. Her theatre credits include the National, RSC and Manchester Royal Exchange. Temi was a member of the Royal Court’s Young Writers Group in 2017 and wrote her debut play, The High Table, at the course’s culmination. It was produced at the Bush Theatre in Lynette Linton’s debut season, and won Temi the Stage Debut Award for Best Writer in 2020. She also co-founded & co-directed the Drag King company, Pecs, performing in the sell-out runs of their shows at venues including Soho Theatre, The Yard & Tate Britain before leaving the company in 2019. Temi wrote an episode of Netflix’s Sex Education S3 for which she was nominated for the NAACP award for Outstanding writing in a Comedy Series. She has written two episodes for Disney Plus’s forthcoming show Wedding Season and is working on the adaptation of the Booker-prize winning book Girl, Woman, Other for the BBC. She is currently developing her own original projects in the UK and US and in 2021 was on the BFI Flare x BAFTA Crew programme mentored by Russell T Davies, as well as being named one of the Forbes 30 under 30.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Augustin Wecxsteen / Communications Officer / augustin@sohotheatre.com
Kelly Fogarty / Co- Audience & Communications Director / kelly@sohotheatre.com

NOTES TO EDITORS 

ABOUT THE VERITY BARGATE AWARD 2022
The search is on. Soho Theatre and Character 7, producer of The Night Manager, are looking for extraordinary plays from extraordinary new voices. The Verity Bargate Award is Soho Theatre’s flagship new-writing award with the winning play produced in a full production on our stages. For 50 years, Soho Theatre has championed new writing. Since 1982, the Verity Bargate Award, Soho Theatre’s playwriting award, has uncovered the best new and emerging writers. It has launched the careers of some of Britain’s most established playwrights and screenwriters including Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), Vicky Jones (Run for HBO), Toby Whithouse (Doctor Who) and many, many more.

The Verity Bargate Award is open to any playwright who has had fewer than three professional productions and who lives in the UK or Ireland. There are no restrictions on subject matter. Musicals and other forms of theatre are welcome but will only be judged on the text that is submitted. The winner receives £7,500 in respect of an exclusive option for Soho Theatre to produce the play. www.sohotheatre.com/writers/verity-bargate-award/ | www.characterseven.com/

ABOUT SOHO THEATRE
Soho Theatre is London’s most vibrant producer for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. We pursue creative excellence, harnessing an artistic spirit that is based in our new writing roots, the radical ethos of the fringe and the traditions of punk culture and queer performance. We champion voices that challenge from outside of the mainstream, and sometimes from within it too. We value entertainment, accessibility and enjoy a good show. We are a registered charity and social enterprise and our audiences are diverse in age, background and outlook.

We are mission driven and we measure our success in: • the NEW WORK that we produce, present and facilitate • the CREATIVE TALENT that we nurture with artists, in our participation work and with our own staff • the DIVERSE AUDIENCES that we play to and engage.

To create theatre we nurture new playwrights, we commission new work and we produce new plays. Writers including debbie tucker green, Chris Chibnall, Theresa Ikoko and Vicky Jones had early work produced at Soho. With comedy and cabaret, we identify, develop and produce exciting new talents and present some of the biggest international stars.

 

We work beyond Soho taking work to and from the world’s major festivals like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Our touring work plays across the UK and internationally with strong connections to India, Australia and the US. Our filmed comedy can be downloaded on our digital platform, seen on TV and viewed on international airlines. We’re ambitious, entrepreneurial and collaborative and take pride in our strong relationships with commercial partners – but the profits we make go back into supporting our work. We’re opening a new venue Soho Theatre Walthamstow in 2023. sohotheatre.com | sohotheatreondemand.com | @sohotheatre

ABOUT CHARACTER 7
Character 7 is a production company founded by Stephen Garrett for high-end television and film projects. It is based in Los Angeles and London. As an accomplished producer Stephen Garrett most recently served as Executive Producer on the David E Kelley penned HBO mini-series THE UNDOING, starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland, directed by Academy Award winner Susanne Bier, which has just launched in the UK on Sky Atlantic to stellar reviews. He was also Executive Producer on the multiple Golden Globe winning “The Night Manager.” A collaboration with The Ink Factory, the series –which also won an Emmy for director Susanne Bier- marked the first project under the Character 7 banner. Among the company’s upcoming projects in development are “Russians Among Us”, an adaptation of BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera’s compelling account of the spies ghosted into stolen identities in North America and “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold”, which is being produced in association with The Ink Factory, Paramount Television and BBC. Character 7 is currently in production on CULPRITS, an 8 part thriller for Disney+/Star, written and directed by J Blakeson (I CARE A LOT).

Prior to Character 7, Garrett was Founder and Executive Chairman of Kudos, the UK’s leading independent producer of TV drama. With his business partner Jane Featherstone, Kudos’ TV drama arm galvanized British television with the popular, acclaimed shows BAFTA- winning “Spooks” (based on Garrett’s original idea), “Hustle,” “Life on Mars,” “The Hour” and ITV’s hit “Broadchurch.” Garrett and Featherstone sold Kudos to Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group in 2006, and continued to be involved with the company until 2014.  characterseven.com | @characterseven

ABOUT THE VERITY BARGATE AWARD 2022 JUDGES

APRIL DE ANGELIS
April De Angelis is an acclaimed playwright who has worked in stage, radio and television. Such work includes: My Brilliant Friend, a two part dramatization of Elena Ferrantes’ epic family saga (Rose Theatre Kingston and National Theatre, London 2019/20); The Village (Theatre Royal Stratford East, 2018); Frankenstein (Royal Exchange Manchester 2018, Jumpy ( starring Tamsin Greig, Royal Court 2011 & Duke of York’s Theatre, West End 2012, Melbourne and Sydney 2015); an adaptation of Wuthering Heights (Birmingham Rep, 2008); WILD EAST (Royal Court 2006); A Laughing Matter (Out of Joint at National Theatre, 2001); A Warwickshire Testimony (RSC, 1999); The Positive Hour (Out of Joint at Hampstead Theatre, 1997); Playhouse Creatures (Sphinx Theatre Company  at the Haymarket Theatre 1993 and revived at the Old Vic Theatre, 1997 and again at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2013); The Life And Times Of Fanny Hill (The Old Fire Station Oxford, 1991; revived at the Bristol Old Vic, 2015).

Other work includes the opera libretti: Flight (Glyndebourne Opera, 1997) and the Silent Twins (Almeida, 2007).  Television includes Aristophanes (Channel 4/1995) and she has written extensively for radio including an acclaimed adaptation of Peyton Place (BBC Radio, 2002).

JAMES GRAHAM
James is a playwright and screenwriter whose recent work includes Quiz, on stage at Chichester and the West End before being adapted for ITV1 last spring; Brexit: The Uncivil War for Channel 4 (2019); The Culture as part of Hull’s City of Culture; Ink at the Almeida Theatre, West End and on Broadway (2017), nominated for Best New Play at the Oliviers and the Tony Awards. Labour of Love (West End, 2017) won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy; The Vote at the Donmar Warehouse, live streamed onto More4 on election night 2015, and This House which premiered at the National Theatre in 2012, before a sell-out run in the Olivier in 2013, a transfer to the West End in 2016 and a nationwide wide tour in 2018. He remains a Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theatre were his first professional play was staged in 2005.

THERESA IKOKO
Theresa Ikoko has had a variety of jobs in prison education, secure settings and social inclusion/community engagement projects. She is passionate about participation, young people and community efficacy.

Theresa’s debut feature film Rocks premiered at TIFF to wonderful reviews and picked up nominations and wins at the 2021 BIFAs and BAFTAs. She is the winner of the George Devine Award and Alfred Fagon Award for her debut play Girls (Soho Theatre / Talawa / Hightide) – which was also a Verity Bargate Award Finalist. Theresa is currently developing Grime Kids to air on BBC 3 in 2022, and Wahala for BBC1; as well as various film, tv and theatre projects.

MORGAN LLOYD MALCOLM
Morgan was commissioned by The Globe to write Emilia which became a sell out in summer 2018 and transferred to the West End at the Vaudeville theatre in 2019.  It won three Olivier Awards in 2021 including Best Comedy or Entertainment.  It has been optioned as a film and she is in development on this currently.

Previous theatre includes Belongings and The Wasp. Mum for Francesca Moody Productions and Typical Girls for Clean Break produced in 2021 after being cancelled during the pandemic. Current theatre commissions with Headlong, Lyric Hammersmith, and Clean Break.  For Television she is working with Merman, Gaumont and Moonage.  She is also adapting her play The Wasp into a screenplay for Paradise City Films.  She is represented by David Higham Associates and WME.

 

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