Published: Fri 23 Sep 22

Announcing the Verity Bargate Award 2022 winner

Sam Grabiner is announced as Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award 2022 40th Anniversary Winner

From close to 1,500 entries, a longlist of 17 inspiring and fantastically realised voices, and a shortlist of six unique new plays, Soho Theatre is thrilled to announce Sam Grabiner’s Boys on the Verge of Tears as the winner of the Verity Bargate Award 2022. The production will have its world premiere at Soho Theatre.


Boys On The Verge of Tears by Sam Grabiner

In a men’s public toilet, characters drift in and out. A father waits for his son, kids hang around skipping school, fights break out after nights of drinking. As bodies rub up against each other – sometimes tenderly, sometimes brutally – a story about shame, violence and vulnerability emerges. A play about what it costs to spend your life performing masculinity. 

Playwright April De Angelis, member of the Verity Bargate Award 2022 judging panel, said:Boys on the Verge of Tears is a thrillingly theatrical, fearless, funny, honest, heartstopping play about being a boy and becoming a man.’

Character 7’s Stephen Garrett, chair of the Verity Bargate Award 2022 judging panel, said: ‘In his scintillating, breathtakingly original, gleefully theatrical Boys on the Verge of Tears, Sam Grabiner has crafted an eerily zeitgeisty 7 ages of man. It’s a play that effortlessly switches from the laugh out loud funny to the troublingly dark. It manages to be prescient, provocative, upsetting, violent and tender without ever leaving the simplest of settings, a men’s toilet. The characters are richly drawn. The dialogue sizzles. Such a worthy winner!’

Rhianna Ilube’s Samuel Takes a Break in Male Dungeon N°5 After a Long but Generally Successful Day of Tours receives the Highly Commended Award, which recognises an exciting new artist whom Soho Theatre hopes to develop work with in the future.


Samuel Takes A Break in Male Dungeon No.5 After a Long But Generally Successful Day of Tours by Rhianna Ilube

Everyday Samuel wakes up and does his job. He is the Senior Tour Guide of a Prominent Slave Castle in Ghana. He enjoys his job, yes. 10 tours a day, 6 days a week. He has a tour script, of course, but occasionally he experiments with it.
This year is different. It’s the Year of Return, meaning that millions of diaspora tourists are visiting Ghana to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in the USA. Many of them are here for the first time. They are all booking a slot on his tour.

Playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, member of the Verity Bargate Award 2022 judging panel, said: ‘Samuel Takes A Break… feels like one of those plays that comes along and completely changes the game.  I was utterly transfixed by it, couldn’t put it down. Rhianna is a huge talent and I cannot wait to see what they write next. This play made me feel so excited about the future of theatre.


For 50 years Soho Theatre has championed new writing, from lunch time plays in the 70s to today’s commissions, attachments, writers labs and awards. Since 1982, Soho Theatre’s prestigious biennial playwriting competition, the Verity Bargate Award, has uncovered the best new play by an emerging UK and Irish writer and launched the careers of some of Britain’s most established writers. The Verity Bargate Award is sponsored by Character 7.

2022’s award was 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.

Soho Theatre’s Literary Manager Gillian Greer said: ‘It’s been an absolutely bumper year for the Verity Bargate Award, with one of our highest rates of submission ever and a shortlist of six plays we are incredibly proud of. The breadth of imagination and depth of feeling across the six shortlisted plays is stunning. We are so delighted that we will be shepherding the beautiful Boys on the Verge of Tears to our stage soon, and we hope to work with each of these incredibly talented writers in the future.’


The Verity Bargate Award 2022  Shortlist
Sophia Chetin-Leuner – Porn Play
Sam Grabiner – Boys on the Verge of Tears
Rhianna Ilube – Samuel Takes a Break in Male Dungeon N°5 After a Long but Generally Successful Day of Tours
Benjamin Kuffuor – Working Men
Alan Mahon – A Young Man Comes
Sam Ward – Everything I’m Thinking, All of the Time

The Verity Bargate Award 2022 – Longlist
Sonali Bhattacharyya – King Troll (The Fawn)
Sophia Chetin-Leuner – Porn Play
Roxy Cook – A Woman Walks Into a Bank
Sam Grabiner – Boys on the Verge of Tears
Georgia Green – Private Adult Things
Marek Horn – Octopolis
Rhianna Ilube – Samuel Takes a Break in Male Dungeon N°5 After a Long but Generally Successful Day of Tours
Gareth Jandrell – Sick Children Karaoke
Joe Kerridge – Succession Theme is my Ringtone
Benjamin Kuffuor – Working Men
maatin – Friday at the masjid
Alan Mahon – A Young Man Comes
Mika Onyx Johnson – CAP: A Medicinal Love Story
Daniel Ward – Bet Junkie
Sam Ward – Everything I’m Thinking, All of the Time
Martha Watson Allpress – Lady Dealer
Temi Wilkey – Hallelujah