Winners announced of Channel 4 Playwrights Scheme
Channel 4 is delighted to announce the winners of the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme (formerly the Pearson Playwrights’ Scheme), which celebrates and supports emerging British writing talent.
The winners in Channel 4’s inaugural year of support for the scheme, each of whom will receive a bursary of £7000, are:
CLARA BRENNAN (‘The Vendor’)
ZODWA NYONI (‘Boi-Boi is Dead’)
(WEST YORKSHIRE PLAYHOUSE)
SIMON LONGMAN (‘Milked’)
(PENTABUS THEATRE, LUDLOW)
MORNA PEARSON (‘The Artist Man and Mother Woman’)
(TRAVERSE THEATRE, EDINBURGH)
CHRIS THOMPSON (‘Carthage’)
This bursary is supported by The Peggy Ramsay Foundation
The successful writers will now embark upon one-year attachments with the theatres outlined above, giving them the opportunity to meet a variety of theatre practitioners and first-hand experience of a working theatre. Their principal task in the 12 months is to write at least one full-length play. The writers will also have the opportunity to submit their play for the Catherine Johnson Best Play Award in the year following their bursary.
Playwrights were nominated by UK theatre Artistic Directors, with the five winners selected by the scheme’s panel chaired by Sir Richard Eyre and including Channel 4’s Head of Drama Piers Wenger.
Wenger says: “The calibre of writing we received was hugely impressive, showcasing a breadth and range of exciting new voices in British theatre. Our warmest congratulations to the five winners, whose writing was bold, distinctive, and with real contemporary resonance. We look forward to seeing the work they produce under the bursary and beyond.”
Richard Eyre says: “I'm thrilled that Channel 4 are now the supporters of this Scheme. It's a genuinely inventive act of philanthropy and I know the writers and theatres will be as delighted as I am with this new initiative.”
In 1973, Howard Thomas, then Managing Director of Thames Television, launched the Thames Television Theatre Writers Scheme to support and celebrate new writing in the theatre. He believed that television owed much to the theatre for its supply of creative talent. In 1993 Pearson took over support for the scheme and it became the Pearson Playwrights’ Scheme. After four decades, earlier this year it was announced it was to become the Channel 4 Playwright’s Scheme.
Over the past 40 years, the playwrights’ scheme has celebrated and supported some of the finest British playwriting talent including; Joe Penhall, Catherine Johnson, Peter Moffat, Lucy Prebble, Jack Thorne, Martin McDonagh, Nancy Harris, Hanif Kureishi, Lydia Adetunji, Richard Bean, Tanika Gupta – and the list could go on.
This year’s panel, chaired by Sir Richard Eyre CBE, included Michael Billington OBE, Catherine Johnson, Indhu Rubasingham, Sue Summers, John Tydeman OBE (representing The Peggy Ramsay Foundation), Jack Andrews MBE and Piers Wenger. The scheme is administered by Sue Higginson OBE.
Four bursaries are supported by Channel 4 with the fifth by The Peggy Ramsay Foundation.
Each year there is an additional award – the Catherine Johnson Best Play Award. Catherine Johnson was a graduate of the scheme and received the Best Play Award in 1991. She is the author of “Mamma Mia” and wanted to give something back to the scheme which supported her in the early days of her career. Her Award is open to those who have been awarded a bursary in the year following the completion of their attachment. Each year The Catherine Johnson Award is given to the writer of the Best Play [as judged by the same Panel]. Only one play per writer is eligible for consideration.