A letter to everyone who has entered the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting

We are astonished to have received 2,561 entries to this year’s Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting – our biggest number of submissions ever! Over the last six months, through the website, we have hoped to support both new and experienced writers to take the plunge through workshops, toolkits and films. As the deadline loomed, and scripts flooded in, we realised this was probably going to be a popular year but we are truly thrilled and in awe of all those writers who have shared their work with us.  As our dedicated team of readers delve into these scripts, we all have respect and admiration for every single writer who has taken the time to tell their story and who has been brave enough to share their work with us.  This record number, a massive 35% increase in entries from 2017, is testament to the unique power of writing for the live and immediate experience of theatre and shows how vital it is that new voices continue to be supported and heard. 


Congratulations to everyone who has entered the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.


It takes a huge amount of dedication, work, thought, imagination, emotion and energy to complete a script.  And then bravery to send it out into the world for strangers to experience.


Whatever happens next, it is important to recognise that achievement.


It never fails to fill us with awe, astonishment and excitement as we see the scripts coming in.  As we start to read and experience these plays, everyone involved in the Prize feels a huge amount of respect for those playwrights out there who have taken the time and effort to share their imaginations with us.  You have imagined worlds, characters, voices, stories, images.  You have toiled over words, punctuation, rhythm, story beats, theatrical gestures and flare, clarity of intention, layout, journey.  And by pressing that “Enter” button, you have sent your hard work out into the world to be experienced and shared with other people.


Playwriting can be isolating but theatre is intrinsically collaborative – from the many people out there who have supported each other on their journey to submitting for this year’s Prize, to the readers who initially delve into the world of your play; from the artists who bring your work to life, to the audience who journey through your play.  Each play is a hand held out to other people, inviting them on a journey that brings together the head, heart and gut.


Furthermore, the notion of support and collaboration is absolutely at the heart of the Bruntwood Prize.  Over the last five months, since the 2019 Prize was launched, we have endeavoured to support anyone and everyone out there to put pen to paper and commit to telling a story through the unique power of live theatre.  From the 10 week Dramatists Toolkit to the live-stream workshops with multi-award-winning playwrights in UK, Australia and USA; from the myriad of other opportunities we have advertised on the website to the free advice sessions; we want this website to be an ongoing resource and for playwriting to be open to people wherever they are and whatever their experience. So this is not the end of the journey for anyone interested in playwriting – keep checking the website as we will continue to highlight exciting opportunities around the UK.


Our attention now turns to the next part of that unique collaborative process as our dedicated team of readers begin to work through the plays.   They are excited to delve into stories, hear new voices, discover new worlds and celebrate the power of live theatre.  Everyone who reads for the Bruntwood Prize is acutely aware of the hard work, time and dedication it takes to not only have an idea but commit that idea to paper – to think about how it might live on stage, to consider the characters and their lives and emotions, to ambitiously interrogate why this story has to be told now through the live medium of theatre and why this story needs to grab not one but thousands of imaginations in a single moment.  Many of our previous winners read for the Prize – they have been in your position and know only too well how much work it takes to write a play.


Some of our readers will be sharing their experiences of reading at the different phases through a series of articles in the forthcoming months. Hopefully this will give you more of an insight into the process behind the scenes.  While, understandably, the announcements focus on the shortlist and winners, this is only a small part of how we endeavour to support writers through submitting to the Bruntwood Prize.  Many directors read for the Prize, themselves searching for plays that speak to them.  We have seen these plays go on to have productions elsewhere, for those directors to forge relationships with other playwrights through the Prize and for work to find a home.  Everyone on the Top 100 Longlist will receive feedback from the Prize and many writers go on to be introduced to companies and theatres that support their ongoing journey.


We know it can feel like a long wait before further news – please bear with us.  It’s important that each script is given the dedicated time and attention it deserves.  In the meantime, keep writing! Keep sending your work out there! And keep checking the website for more opportunities!

Once again, a huge heartfelt thank you and congratulations to all the playwrights who have submitted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting!



We’ll still be updating the writeaplay website with useful opportunities and events and regular blog updates on the reading process

Key Dates to look out for;

26 Jun 2019
Phase One Reading Complete

19 Jul 2019
Phase Two Reading Complete

16 Aug 2019
Phase 3 Reading Complete

12 Sep 2019
Longlist of Top 100 Plays Announced-
We will publish the top 100 Longlist here on writeaplay on Sept 12th, 10am. These plays will still be anonymity at this stage as the winners will not yet have been chosen- so if you see your play please do maintain your anonymity!

14 Oct 2019
Shortlist Announced
The winners of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2019 will be chosen anonymously (and secretly!) in a priviate Judges meeting. To promote the achivements of all the shortlisted writers, we will then be announcing them under their real names here on the site, and via press release.

4 Nov 2019
2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Ceremony
The Award ceremony is held at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, and will be streamed live on this site, with BSL and captioning

29 Dec 2019
Feedback sent to all Longlisted Plays
We promise to provide a full script report of responses, feedback and suggested directions and questions for a new draft of your script by the end of 2019. These script reports are put together by a new phase of readers, with access to the comments of all previous readers. We’ll also provide a digital badge for your own marketing, and seek to introduce you to any readers who would like to discuss your play further.

As a Manchester based theatre, we will also be in touch to meet any writers based in the North West.

I’m afraid that due to capacity and resources, we are not able to share feedback with you if your play is not in the published longlist


Published on:
4 Nov 2019


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