As one of the 2019 Bruntwood prize-winning plays, Glee and Me, proves a hit at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, the theatre and sponsor, Bruntwood, have announced the competition will return, a year late, in 2022.
Doubts were raised when the contest failed to appear this year: Europe’s biggest playwriting event normally follows a two-year cycle, with submissions starting in the New Year. The organisers were quick, in January, to counter fears that the pandemic might have put paid to the event once and for all, since there had been no call for entries or other announcements about a 2021 contest. “The past 12 months have not been ordinary, and we feel it’s important that we take time to respond to the new landscape in which we all find ourselves,” they said.
The announcement this week confirmed the competition will take place, with anonymous entries as usual, and will be open to all writers with new work. Full details are still to be announced, but submissions can be made from January until early next June. Full details here, with lots of writing tips and advice on the prize’s sister site here.
The Bruntwood prize succeeded the Royal Exchange-led Mobil playwriting competition, which when it launched in 1985 was the biggest playwriting competition in Europe – a title the Manchester property company Bruntwood contest retains.
The 2019 prize had over 2,500 entries and awarded a prize fund of around £40,000, £16,000 of it to overall winner Phoebe Eclair-Powell, whose prizewinner has not yet been programmed into an Exchange season. Bruntwood prizewinners are frequently given the opportunity to work on their plays with the theatre’s experts, and often see their work performed there or elsewhere.
Eclair-Powell’s play, Shed: Exploded View is a complex drama about domestic violence that explores the lives of three couples over 30 years, telling the stories out of sequence in a way that verbally emulates an explosion.
The title comes from Eclair Powell’s love of a modernist sculpture of similar intent, Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: an Exploded View, for which Parker blew up a shed then hung up the fragments in a display.
The first of the 2019 Bruntwood winners to be staged at the Exchange, Stuart Slade’s dark comedy Glee and Me (until October 30), won the judges’ prize and tells the story of a young girl diagnosed with terminal cancer, determined to live life as fully as any 16 year old for as long as she is able.