Published: Thu 29 Feb 24

Verity Bargate Award submissions open this April

Today we announce the April submissions launch for the prestigious new writing competition, the Verity Bargate Award, sponsored by Character 7.

The Verity Bargate Award is open to new writers living in the UK and Ireland, who have had fewer than three professional productions. Submissions open on Thursday 11 April to coincide with the Soho Theatre opening of the 2022 Verity Bargate Award-winning play, Boys On The Verge Of Tears by Sam Grabiner, directed by James Macdonald. This year’s submission window is open until midday on Monday 17 June.

The winner will be announced in late 2024 and will receive:

  • £8,000 for an exclusive option for Soho Theatre to produce the prize-winning play
  • A full London run of the play staged at Soho Theatre
  • Workshops and rehearsed readings of the play in India and USA

For the first time in the history of the Verity Bargate Award, we are partnering with leading new-writing venues in India and USA to hold workshops and readings of the prize-winning play. This is a career-defining opportunity for the winning playwright to build new relationships outside the UK and for their play to receive international exposure. It builds on our mission to develop sustained cultural exchange with global partners in India and USA, increasing opportunities for international artistic collaboration.

This year the judging panel hail from film, TV and theatre and bring a wide range of perspectives to the judging process, from both inside the theatre industry and beyond. The panel is chaired by Stephen Garrett of award-winning independent production company Character 7 (Culprits, The Undoing, The Night Manager), and includes playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar (The Father and the Assassin at National Theatre), multi award-winning screen and stage actor Alan Cumming, Olivier Award-winning playwright Moira Buffini (Handbagged at Hampstead Theatre / West End; Dinner at National Theatre / West End), and writer, director and Nouveau Riche artistic director Ryan Calais Cameron (For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy at Royal Court Theatre / West End; Typical at Soho Theatre). Further judges to be announced.

The Verity Bargate Award celebrates the best new play of the year and will be staged at Soho Theatre, London’s most vibrant producer for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. The winning play will be alive to the world, in touch with Soho Theatre’s audience, and have an audacity to make people gasp.

In the months leading up to the submission window, Soho Theatre will travel the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, to bring new-writing workshops to emerging playwrights. Led by Soho Theatre’s Theatre team: including Head of Theatre David Luff, Creative Associates Pooja Sivaraman and Alessandro Babalola and Verity Bargate Award Literary Associate Max Elton, these workshops equip participants with the tools and inspiration to write a new play, encouraging first time writers to take their first steps in playwriting.

Venues around the UK and Ireland currently confirmed to host workshops include: Abbey Theatre, Dublin; Curve Theatre, Leicester; Chichester Festival Theatre; Wales Millennium Centre; Northampton Royal & Derngate; Oxford Playhouse; Lyric Theatre, Belfast; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh; Royal Exchange, Manchester; Tron Theatre, Glasgow; Leeds Playhouse; and Bristol Old Vic.

David Luff, Head of Theatre at Soho Theatre said: “As we await the world premiere of Sam Grabiner’s superb prize-winning play Boys On The Verge Of Tears, we’re delighted to announce the submissions window for the 2024 Verity Bargate Award and our wide-reaching UK and Ireland new-writing workshops. With our workshops we aim to reach undiscovered playwriting talent and inspire brand new writers to submit stories that speak to our time and raise whirlwinds. We can’t wait to discover the best new play of 2024.”

The Verity Bargate Award is sponsored by Character 7, chaired by Stephen Garrett.

Character 7’s Executive Chairman and Verity Bargate Award Judging Panel Chair Stephen Garrett said: “With each passing year the need to provide spaces for new, disparate and divergent voices simply grows ever more urgent. Character 7 could not be prouder to be sponsoring its 5th successive Verity Bargate Award with the very fabulous Soho Theatre.”

About the Verity Bargate Award

Launched in 1982, the Verity Bargate Award is Soho Theatre’s flagship playwrighting competition, sponsored by Character 7. It is one of the longest-established playwrighting awards in the UK and guarantees the winning play a fully staged Main House production at Soho Theatre. 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. In 2022 the Verity Bargate Award celebrated its 40th birthday.

For over 50 years Soho Theatre has championed new writing, from lunch time plays in the 1970s to today’s commissions, attachments, Writers’ Labs and awards. Open to new and emerging UK and Irish writers, the Verity Bargate Award uncovers the best new plays and launches the careers of some of Britain’s most established playwrights and screenwriters. Previous winners include Sam Grabiner (Boys On The Verge of Tears, 2022), Diane Samuels (Kindertransport, 1992) Amanda Wilkin (Shedding a Skin, 2020), Matt Charman (A Night At The Dogs, 2005), Vicky Jones (The One, 2013), Toby Whithouse (Jump Mr Malinoff, Jump, 1998) and many, many more.

The biennial award is judged by a panel of industry experts and attracts approximately 1,500 submissions. Previous judges include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Laura Wade, James Graham, Theresa Ikoko, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (all former Soho Theatre playwrights), Lolita Chakrabarti, Russell T Davies, April De Angelis, Sue Townsend, Emma Rice, Irving Wardle, Meera Syal, Graeme Farrow, Matt Trueman, Jackie Wylie, Ikenna Obiekwe and Neil Murray. The award is chaired by film and television producer, Character 7’s Stephen Garrett.

Our Writers' Lab course

Our Writers’ Lab programme is an entry-level course designed to support new writers to create a play over 9 months, through a three-draft process with one-to-one feedback support, with an opportunity at the end of the process for writers to submit to our annual Tony Craze Award.

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