Royal Exchange sends out call for new writing talent

By David Keyworth

Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre is launching its nationwide playwriting competition, The Bruntwood Prize, on 31st January.

The winner will receive £15,000 and the possibility of seeing their script produced at the theatre.

The competition is a joint venture between the Royal Exchange and Manchester-based property company Bruntwood. It has been running since 2005 and has generated six full productions from nine prize winners. Press Officer John Goodfellow told us that the prize has averaged around 1,000 entries each time.

Judges will include poet and playwright Jackie Kay, Exchange Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom, Chairman of Bruntwood  Mike Oglesby and actress Maxine Peake who acted in The Children’s Hour at the Royal Exchange in 2008. The chairman of the judging panel is playwright Simon Stephens.

Speaking about the qualities that the judges were likely to be looking for, Mr Goodfellow said: “Exciting new voices, plays that address issues and engage the audience with a view to production.”

To coincide with the launch of the 2011 competition, the theatre is currently staging one of the 2008 winning plays, Mogadishu, by Vivienne Franzmann. Ms Franzmann, a teacher herself, said: “I always wanted to write a play and one night I went to dinner with a friend who had experienced a false accusation and we were speaking about the impact of it. I used the idea as my starting point.”

She added that: “The young people who have read the play or heard the readings have responded brilliantly; they’ve said it’s funny and sad and true.”

Mogadishu runs until 19th February.  It will be followed by the production of another Bruntwod Prize winner. Winterlong by Andrew Sheridan is about a troubled, bird-loving 12-year-old called Oscar who has little adult help to rely on. The play runs from 2nd to the 19th of February.

The Bruntwood Prize is open to anyone aged over 16 who lives in the UK or Ireland.  It is open for entries between 31st January and 6th June. In addition to the winning prize of £15,000 there will be three further winning prizes of £8,000.

For more information and details of entry see

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