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‘Within a few months, I’d finished my first play, inspired by life at the garage, and sent it in to the Soho Theatre in time for their Verity Bargate Award for new writers…The life-changing moment came when the Soho called to say I’d won.’
Matt Charman, Verity Bargate Award Winner 2004, ‘How I conquered Hollywood’, Sunday Times (21 June 2015)
From over 900 submissions, Soho Theatre has identified a shortlist of six new plays, one of which will win the 2015 Verity Bargate Award (VBA). Excerpts from the six plays will be performed on Thursday 5 November at 4pm, before the winner – who will receive £6000 and a production of their play at Soho Theatre – is announced.
The six shortlisted plays for the 2015 VBA are: Daniel Alicandro’s Myfanwy and the Underworld, Georgia Christou’s Yous Two, Fury by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, Theresa Ikoko’s Girls, Roller Diner from Stephen Jackson and Big Mama by Rosie Raven.
Four of the six are first-time playwrights – Stephen Jackson, Daniel Alicandro (shortlisted for the 2013 VBA), Georgia Christou and Rosie Raven (who is mentored at E15 by current Soho Six-member Charlotte Josephine, writer of Soho Young Writers Award-winning play Bitch Boxer). Phoebe Eclair-Powell is a current member of the Soho Theatre Young Company Writers’ Lab, and Theresa Ikoko, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation / Talawa Writer-in-Residence, has contributed a short piece to Clean Break’s Joanne, performed by Tanya Moodie (Soho Theatre Upstairs until 31 October).
The competition includes a vital outreach programme with workshops & talks in across UK and Ireland with partner organisations in Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, Newcastle, Dublin and Glasgow.
The shortlisted plays will go to a panel of seven judges: David Aukin (film producer and former Head of Film at Channel 4), Diane Morgan (Artistic Director of Soho Theatre associate company NitroBEAT), Fiach MacConghail (Artistic Director of Soho Theatre’s co-producing partner the Abbey Theatre, Dublin), Jenny Sealey (Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company), Phil Porter (former Soho Six member, Blink writer and currently under commission), Tanya Ronder (playwright, F*ck the Polar Bears) and chaired by Stephen Garrett (co-founder of Kudos Film and TV).
The Verity Bargate Award, established in the memory of Soho Theatre’s founding Artistic Director, awards an emerging writer £6000 and developmental support from Soho Theatre. Since its inception the competition has contributed vitally to the company’s programme, affirming Soho Theatre’s unwavering commitment to new writers and the importance of practical experience through production. Previous winners of the award include Vicky Jones’ (The One), Thomas Eccleshare (Pastoral), Diane Samuels (Kindertransport) and Matt Charman (A Night at the Dogs), writer of current film release Bridge of Spies directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks.
The 2015 Verity Bargate Award is supported by The Peggy Ramsay Foundation and Stephen Garrett.
The VBA is a unique opportunity for writers. At a crucial moment when many pathways to production and theatres can feel like closed shops, this process opens the door to the earliest career playwrights and lives up to a promise that has been central to this company since its founding, namely that it is through production that a writer learns about their play, their process and the audience. This early commitment can make a vital difference to the long-term career of the writer.
Nina Steiger, Associate Director, Soho Theatre