Introduction TOOLKIT SERIES 3- By Dramaturg Suzanne Bell
”Theatre is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and…
Take a moment. You have written a play. Not only have you written a play but you have sent it out into the world to be experienced by other people. That is a huge achievement which shows a level of dedication and bravery that should be commended. You have been strong enough to embrace the vulnerability that comes with creativity, to face the inevitable feelings of negativity and keep going. This is truly significant and we are extremely grateful to each and every one of you who have engaged with the Prize this year as we emerge from such a rough time.
Everyone involved in the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has the utmost respect for playwrights and wholeheartedly appreciate the tenacity and commitment the work demonstrates. We are all excited to see what playwrights are sharing with us, what worlds they are creating, what journeys they want to take us on, the characters that have existed in their minds and the stories they want to tell us.
The last two years have been an incredibly difficult and uncertain time for all artists. It has sometimes felt as if theatre might not come back. How can we be creative if we are standing on the precipice and can’t experience the magic of theatre, of audiences collectively responding to stories? It has made us realise just how important theatre is – as Bill English, co-founder and artistic director of the San Francisco Playhouse said at the start of the pandemic:
”Theatre is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.”
It is fantastic to see audiences come back to the theatre and to see artists make new work again. We recently produced ELECTRIC ROSARY by Tim Foley, one of the winners of the 2017 Bruntwood Prize – the production had to be cancelled in 2020 and it was truly joyous to see audiences meet the play with excitement and anticipation and to have such a wonderful response to the world, characters and story Tim had so meticulously created. As audiences laughed and cried and gasped and cheered this quote felt even more acute.
Despite the closure of the submission window, we will continue to support playwrights with other opportunities, events and inspiration so do keep checking in on the website or on our social media channels. I know it can feel like a long time before we release the Longlist in September but it is important that all the plays are given the dedicated time and attention they deserve.
So for now it’s over to us to dive into your plays and experience the worlds you have created. Thank you for that.
So take a moment. Make a cup of tea (or something stronger). Sit down and breathe. Give yourself a pat on the back or a tight hug. Well Done. And Good Luck!