The winner, or rather winners, of the inaugural Theatre503 Playwriting Award were announced on Friday.
The new prize attracted 1600 entrants, all of whom submitted an original piece of writing with a running length of at least 60 minutes. After a great deal of reading and rereading six playwrights were shortlisted, with the idea being that one was selected to receive the £6000 prize fund and to have their play performed at Theatre 503.
There was a slight change to the award ceremony’s proceedings, however, when it was revealed that two playwrights were to receive the full prize fund. The winning playwrights were Bea Roberts with And Then Come the Nightjars, and Paul Murphy with Valhalla.
Dennis Kelly, who started his career at Theatre 503, was one of the prize’s judges. Kelly said that both plays were equally worthy for two very different sets of reasons, and so, with the support of The Richard Carne Trust and an anonymous donor, Theatre 503 were able to doubly award their prize- an exciting beginning to what will surely become an established and highly admired prize.
More about the winning plays:
And Then Come the Nightjars depicts a deep and tender relationship between two men as their farms and livelihoods take sharply different directions amidst a rural backdrop of a damaged economy, animal disease and government interventions in farming.
Valhalla is a tense psychological thriller set in a world where men have become gods, but gods have become dehumanised. It follows a couple as they struggle to full understand the consequences of past actions that aimed to better the world, but now threaten to destroy them.
The other shortlisted plays for the award were:
Lands End by Chloe Todd Fordham
Acedian Pirates by Jay Taylor
Trim Palace by Courttia Newland
Khardal by Victor Lewnieski
In the same ceremony the winning applicants of the 503FIVE Writer Residency Scheme were announced. The scheme offers five emerging playwrights 18 month long professional training programmes, and the successful applicants were Chloe Todd Fordham, Brian Mullin, Vinay Patel, Ella Greenhill and Nessah Muthy.
Why we Love Theatre 503.
Theatre503 is the home of groundbreaking plays. More than happy with its place at the heart of Fringe Theatre, it specializes in new writing. It takes risks in staging more unknown writers than anywhere else in the country, and it has a great deal of success in what it does.
It operates a year-round open submissions policy, which gives voice to unknown talent and ensures that fresh ideas are continually injected into the London scene. If you’ve never visited before, you ought to make a beeline to Battersea in time for the new spring season. Who knows, you might bear witness to the first play by the next Dennis Kelly.