Verity Bargate Award

Spring 2024
Sponsored by Character 7, the Verity Bargate Award is Soho Theatre’s flagship new writing award with the winning play produced in a full production on our stages.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you’re from or what you do. If you’ve never written before, that’s fine by us.

Launched in 1982, the Verity Bargate Award one of the longest-established playwrighting awards in the UK and 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.

This year 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. You can read an interview with Sam here.

The submission window is open until midday on Monday 17 June 2024.

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, Soho Theatre partners with leading new-writing venues in India and USA to hold workshops and readings of the prize-winning play. This year’s judging panel consists of 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), award-winning musician and actor Rebecca Lucy Taylor AKA Self Esteem (Cabaret at Kit Kat Club) and Anthony Lau (Associate Artistic Director, Sheffield Theatres).

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 and Ikenna Obiekwe. The award is chaired by film and television producer, Character 7’s Stephen Garrett.

In the months leading up to the submission window, we’ll travel the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, to bring new-writing workshops to emerging playwrights. 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.

We are also running workshops and information sessions online and at Soho Theatre, Dean Street. If you’d like to attend, check out the links below:

Workshop (Free)

Saturday 4th May (2pm) – Online Workshop for Disabled Artists (led by Olivier Award Winning Playwright Matilda Ibini)

Information Sessions (Free)

Weds 1st May (7.30pm) – Online

Thursday 9 May (5.30pm) – In-Person

This year nationwide workshops are taking place at:

  • Curve Leicester: Tue 26 Mar
  • Oxford Playhouse: Thu 28 Mar
  • Live Theatre, Newcastle: Thu 28 Mar
  • Bristol Old Vic: Tue 2 Apr
  • Lyric Belfast: Thu 4 Apr
  • Birmingham Rep: Mon 8 Apr
  • Abbey Theatre, Dublin: Tue 9 Apr
  • Northampton Royal & Derngate: Wed 10 Apr
  • Leeds Playhouse: Tue 16 Apr
  • Wales Millenium Centre: Wed 17 Apr
  • Traverse, Edinburgh: Wed 17 Apr
  • The Tron, Glasgow: Thu 18 Apr
  • Royal Exchange, Manchester: Wed 24 Apr
  • Sheffield Crucible: Mon 29 Apr

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.

For more information on this year’s award read our news story here.

'The life-changing moment came when the Soho called to say I'd won.'
Matt Charman, Verity Bargate Award Winner 2004

FAQs

The Verity Bargate Award 2024 will be open for submissions between Thursday, 11 April 2024 (11 am) – Monday, 17 June 2024 (11 am). Submissions will be made through our online portal on this webpage and submissions outside of this period will not be considered.

To be eligible for The Verity Bargate Award, you must live in the UK or Ireland. It is open to emerging playwrights who have had less than three professional productions to their name. A ‘professional production’ is usually defined as a run of 3 weeks or more where the writer is paid Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) rates.

All submissions must be written for the stage. Prose or poetry are also not eligible.

All submissions to the Verity Bargate Award are final, and redrafts will not be accepted. Please make sure you are happy with your play before you submit.

Submissions are strictly limited to one play per writer.

Submissions should be at least one hour in performance time. As a general rule of thumb, 10,000 words will correspond to one hour. A good way to estimate this is to read your script out loud.

Submissions should have one sole author.

Musicals and plays with songs are accepted but will be judged on text alone.

Adaptations are not eligible.

Submissions must be unproduced, with a maximum of three rehearsed readings or equivalent development allowed before submission.

The Verity Bargate Award is not read anonymously. If you would like your submission to remain anonymous, please ensure your name and contact details do not appear anywhere on your script.

Yes, provided you give us contact information that we’ll be able to reach you by.

Our preferred file format is PDF.

There is no one way to layout your script, and every playwright will have their preferred way of doing so. We suggest that if you are unsure of how you’d like to do so you have a look at some plays by writers you admire for inspiration.

Supported by

Character 7

Arts Council England

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.

Read More