2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwrighting Winners

As well as Phoebe Eclair Powell and Kimber Lee’s wins, also announced at the Bruntwood Prize Award ceremony were the winners of three further Prize categories:

AKEDAH by Michael John O’Neill won the debut writer’s category, the Original New Voice Award 

GLEE & ME by Stuart Slade was awarded the Judges Award 

Due to the high calibre of scripts in this year’s record-breaking entries, the judges also awarded Dave Harris and Jody O’Neill £4,000 each as a commendation for their captivating plays, TAMBO & BONES and BALLYBAILE respectively.


Original New Voice
AKEDAH by Michael John O’Neill

Glasgow-based producer Michael John O’Neill has worked with companies including Blood of the Young, Tron Theatre, Theatre Gu Leòr, National Theatre of Scotland, SUPERFAN, Little King, Royal Lyceum Edinburgh, The Arches and Traverse Theatre. His first full length play, AKEDAH centres on two sisters who, after two years apart, find each other and discuss their abusive past. The play explores religion, abuse and forgiveness in Northern Ireland.

The judges remarked on the strength of the dialogue and a sense of theatrical ambition in the writing. ‘The conversations are stimulating and thought provoking and there is definitely a sense that you need to be in the same room as these people. The ending is stunning and stays with you long after.’


Judges Award 
GLEE & ME by Stuart Slade

London-based playwright Stuart Slade’s previous plays include BU21 (Trafalgar Studios) and Cans (Theatre503). GLEE & ME is a one-woman play which sees 16-year-old Lola delivering a monologue charting her journey after being diagnosed with a rare, degenerative neurological condition.

The judges said: ‘This is an incredibly moving and honest piece of work. The writing is stark, beautiful and assured. The humour within the bleak narrative gives a real sense of humanity in the writing and it feels utterly authentic. It was a beautifully empathetic piece of writing, with a character who weaved her way into your life and became your best friend. It feels like an incredibly important play about strength, compassion, humanity and human spirit’



The Judges have the option to draw down additional award funds for scripts they would like to support further in their development. These writers receive £4,000 each and a supported rehearsed reading of their script.


TAMBO & BONES by Dave Harris

Poet and playwright Dave Harris, from West Philadelphia, is the Tow Playwright-in-Residence at Roundabout Theatre Company. His play TAMBO & BONES is a passionate piece that wrestles with Blackness and its mythologies. Harris weaves together various forms of writing including rap, monologue, and dialogue, to tell the story of two homeless black men who rise to become founders of a civilisation.

The Judges said ‘This was a complex and thought provoking piece of work which created a full sense of a vivid world. The stage directions were a real treat in themselves and gave a sense of a playwright who really cares about what they are trying to convey. The violence in the narrative is beautifully handled. The play felt like a piece of music. It is a both highly theatrical and utterly human.’


BALLYBAILE by Jody O’Neill

Irish actor and writer Jody O’Neill is currently based in Wicklow, where she spends much of her time learning about geography, science and the Universe from her seven-year-old son. She has spent the past two years researching and developing work that promotes autism acceptance. BALLYBAILE is set in Ireland and explores government failings and inactivity whilst a small town struggles to adapt to the world rapidly changing around them.

The Judges said ‘Absolutely loved the scope and energy and ambition of the piece. The way in which the writer pushes the theatricality and metaphorical ambition of the play is astounding. It is also utterly moving and human. Its idiosyncrasies are masterfully conveyed to the audience in a thrilling way that opens our eyes to huge societal questions. It finds a way to engage with everyone and offers an extremely clever comment on power and being co-opted’

Published on:
21 Nov 2019


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