• Sam Grabiner’s Boys on the Verge of Tears wins Verity Bargate Award 2022
  • Rhianna Ilube’s Samuel Takes a Break in Male Dungeon N°5 After a Long but Generally Successful Day of Tours receives Highly Commended Award
  • Judging panel chaired by Stephen Garrett included April De Angelis, James Graham, Theresa Ikoko, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm
  • Boys on the Verge of Tears to be performed at Soho Theatre in 2023
  • The Verity Bargate Award is sponsored by Character 7

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 in 2023.

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. 

Praise for Sam Grabiner’s Boys on the Verge of Tears

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.


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.

Praise for Rhianna Ilube’s Samuel Takes a Break in Male Dungeon N°5 After a Long but Generally Successful Day of Tours

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.

This year’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.’

Verity Bargate Award 2022 – Winner
Sam Grabiner – Boys on the Verge of Tears

Verity Bargate Award 2022 – Highly Commended Award
Rhianna Ilube – Samuel Takes a Break in Male Dungeon N°5 After a Long but Generally Successful Day of Tours

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

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


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


Sam Grabiner is a playwright whose work has been shortlisted for The Bruntwood Prize for Playwrighting and the O’Neill Theatre Centre’s National Playwrights Conference. His play Next Year in Jerusalem! won the Roundabout Theatre New Play Reading Series in New York and he has been a resident playwright at Papatango Theatre Company.

He has taken part in the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme and is a graduate of the clown school L’école Philippe Gaulier. He holds an MFA in playwrighting from Columbia School of the Arts, led by the playwrights Lynn Nottage and David Henry Hwang. 

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.

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/

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. sohotheatre.com | sohotheatreondemand.com | @sohotheatre

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


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 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 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 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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