Here are the ten shortlisted plays for The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015.
HOW MY LIGHT IS SPENT by Alan Harris
Jimmy wondered if this was the last time he’d see his daughter. Or rather, the last time she’d see him. Tuesday, July 7, 9.37pm. Jimmy had been totally invisible for the last three hours.
Jimmy had considered having phone sex for a while, but when Kitty answered – if that is her real name – he quickly fell in love so that every Wednesday evening became a regular fixture, for nine minutes. Kitty isn’t a psychologist yet, but she thinks she knows the reason for Jimmy’s slow disappearance and offers him some advice for his £1.20 per minute that will change his life forever. A heartfelt and humorous take on loneliness, isolation and longing.
Originally from Wales, Alan’s plays include: Marsha: A Girl Who Does Bad Things (liveartshow/Arcola), The Opportunity Of Efficiency (New National Theatre Tokyo/National Theatre Wales), Wolf, The Lighthouse, A Certain Date, Take Me To Victoria Park (all BBC Radio 4), The Gold Farmer (BBC Radio 3), The Future For Beginners (liveartshow/Wales Millennium Centre), The Magic Toyshop (Invisible Ink/Theatr Iolo), A Good Night Out In The Valleys (National Theatre Wales), Re-Set (Mess Up The Mess), Marsha (Capital Fringe, Washington DC), Rhinegold, Manga Sister (both liveartshow, The Yard, London), The Journey (Welsh National Opera), The Hidden Valley (Birdsong Opera/WNO) Cardboard Dad (Sherman Cymru), Miss Brown To You (Hijinx Theatre), Brute (Operating Theatre Company), Orange (Sgript Cymru), Come To Where I’m From (Paines Plough). He was given a Creative Wales Award in 2011 from the Arts Council of Wales and, following work with prisoners at HMP Cardiff, is a Koestler Trust platinum award winner.
THE ALMIGHTY SOMETIMES by Kendall Feaver
Things are different now. I’ve got a gym membership. I’m reading the backs of cereal boxes. And then I started thinking how strange it was to know the calorie intake of a bowl of cornflakes but not the contents of my own medication, don’t you think that’s strange?
Now that Anna is twenty-one, her child and adolescent psychiatrist is referring her treatment for Bipolar Disorder. But after 13 years on a cocktail of drugs, Anna is starting to wonder whether her mother was too quick to medicate, and so decides to rediscover the talent and passions she believes were interrupted. Suddenly the world is a much more volatile and challenging place, but does this herald the return of a childhood illness, or is the real Anna simply ‘waking up’? An unflinching and eloquent examination of the highs and lows of human emotions.
Australian playwright Kendall’s previous works include The Hiding Place (ATYP Under the Wharf), Rocket Boy (Adelaide Fringe Festival) and The Forgotten (Shortlisted, Sydney Theatre Company ‘Young Playwright of the Year’ Award). Most recently, she wrote Kingdom Come for The Story Project at Arcola Theatre, New Dawn for Islington Youth Theatre, Push It as part of Scrapyard Theatre at The Traverse, and created installation The Glossatree for Just So Festival, Cheshire. Kendall has an MA in Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths, University of London, which was supported with an Ian Potter Cultural Trust Award.
RAILS by Simon Longman
No one will really ever know about these stories. They’ll just drive past them on the bypass. They’ll just fade away like all the rest. Just burn away in the sun.
It’s summer. It’s too hot. Mike’s sixteen and is really into his scooter. Sarah lives over the road and isn’t really into much. Ben works at a garage and is in love with someone that drives an Audi. He’s also sick of trying to hold his family together while his Mum won’t get off the sofa. In a town dissected by roads and railways where everyone’s just passing through, these unforgettable characters don’t want to miss each other as their lives collide.
Simon is a playwright from rural Herefordshire. He was a member of the Royal Court Young Writer’s Group in 2013 and won the Channel 4 Playwrights’ scheme in 2014. His first play, Milked, was produced by Pentabus Theatre Company and toured venues nationally including the Soho Theatre, London. For television, his short film, Oakwood, was commissioned and produced by the BBC.
PARLIAMENT SQUARE by James Fritz
Focus on that anger that hatred inside you for everything that they’re doing that’s what will drive you that’s what will make the difference.
The news has been bringing Kat to tears. How can she make a difference? Through 15 seconds of sacrifice she decides to make an impact that will never be forgotten. But will her family understand, or will they coax her back to a life of numb contentment and paralyzing apathy? This hard hitting and vital scream against injustice probes whether political protest can ever make a difference and asks if violent action is madness or compassion?
James’s first full-length play, Four Minutes Twelve Seconds, was runner-up of the Soho Theatre’s 2013 Verity Bargate Award. It premiered at Hampstead Theatre downstairs in Autumn 2014 and was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre before transferring to Trafalgar Studios in 2015.
TABS by Ellie Kendrick
I am twenty four. I am single – looking for fun – friendship – companionship – a relationship. I am available. I am –
Can the internet make our lives easier, or does it rule them completely? Can it connect us as human beings, or does it drive us further apart? As a young woman struggles to keep up, trying to gain control of her life and finally find love, her grandmother connects with people on the other side of the world and does battle with Google over copyright. A sophisticated, engaging and entertaining piece about the overwhelming impact of the digital revolution.
Ellie is an actor and writer. She has written for the Royal Court Theatre on the Young Writers’ Programme and the Studio Group. Tabs, her first full-length play, was developed with the literary department at the Royal Court and was completed with the help of an attachment. She is currently working on two new plays. She is also a winner of the Foyle Young Poets prize. She has appeared as an actor across theatre, television, film and radio. Television includes Game Of Thrones (HBO), The Diary Of Anne Frank, Being Human, Upstairs Downstairs (BBC) and Misfits (Channel Four); film includes An Education and Whisky Galore (in post-production); theatre includes Pests (Royal Exchange/ Royal Court/Clean Break), Romeo And Juliet (Globe Theatre), In The Republic Of Happiness and The Low Road (Royal Court).
WILD IS DE WIND by Chino Odimba
We have our ways and you have yours. And when people are struggling just to survive then those ways can be all they have.
In the north-eastern corner of Kenya near the Somali border, tensions grow as security tightens around the world’s largest refugee camp ready for the minister’s visit. But this unstable world built on rubbish and tents is bursting at the seams and Marcel is responsible for keeping up appearances; that means no more intrusions, black market items or child labour. Lolly a young ambitious British aid worker wanting to escape the drudgery of life as a GP in the UK, may have bitten off more than she can chew. She’s been asking too many questions, interfering with traditions she doesn’t understand and is now in danger of damaging Marcel’s reputation. But Lolly’s seen too many young girls bleed to death to turn a blind eye, and she’ll get to the bottom of it one way or another.
Nigerian born, London raised Chino Odimba was working in TV production in Bristol before writing her first play Women Embrace Two. Since then, she has written a number of plays including Rainy Season and His Name Is Ishmael, The Birdman Of Lewisham and a short film A Blues Of Nia. Her plays have been staged at Bristol Old Vic, Ustinov Theatre, Arcola Theatre, and Latitude Festival.
WISH LIST by Katherine Soper
I dreamt about this last night. I dreamt that I was packing boxes in boxes in boxes.
Tamsin is sole carer for her brother, Dean whose crippling OCD leaves him housebound in a perpetual state of ritual. Now that “Help to Work” has cut all his benefits, she’s taken a zero-hour contract performing packaging rituals of her own, on the clock and to a quota. If she doesn’t pack faster, whilst keeping her brother on track, she’ll lose out to the next in a long line of temps, and soon they could both lose their lifelines. A sensitive and delicately powerful play about trying to survive when every system is against you.
MADRA by Frances Poet
You went into the boy’s toilet didn’t you, with the man? Like you do with Daddy. How much did the man help you?
A generation of parents are raising children in a world that has lost its innocence. If childhood heroes are exposed as villains, can neighbours, friends and even our own families be trusted to look after our children? A seemingly innocent trip to the supermarket leads a mother to question everything she took to be safe – bringing her family under scrutiny and heightening every protective impulse she has, to breaking point.
Frances started writing following the birth of her son five years ago, after over a decade working as a Literary Manager and dramaturg for a number of UK theatres. Her debut play, Faith Fall, was produced in Glasgow at Oran Mor as a lunchtime A Play, A Pie And A Pint and at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory in 2012. Since then Frances has completed Oran Mor Classic Cut adaptations of Moliere’s The Misanthrope and Racine’s Andromaque which also played at The Byre, St Andrews. This year, her first radio play, The Disappointed was broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland. She also received a Short Film Talent Network commission for her black comedy, SPORES which was completed in September. Madra is Frances’s first full length play.
JONESTOWN by Kellie Smith
I was so scared that I was going to take him home and that was going to be it. I was never going to see him again… When he was born I said, I am never going to let anyone hurt you. I am never going to let anyone – Never, never, never.
Anne and Joe both love their son, Alistair. Equally. And even if they aren’t together anymore, surely they can both find a way to bring him up. Equally. But when love and loyalty go hand in hand, how far are they prepared to go to win the biggest stake in Alistair’s heart, and his mind? If it can’t be proved who’s the better parent then let Ally decide, once and for all. A sharply devastating play about a bitter struggle for custody, recognition and love.
Kellie Smith has developed two afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4 Can’t Live Without You and Homeowners. Kellie has taken part in the Royal Court’s Invitation Group, and she has been the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse’s Writer on Attachment. During this time she wrote The Sum Of Parts, which formed an anthology of site specific stories produced by Slung Low Theatre Company . She has written plays for young people including I performed by the Liverpool Everyman youth theatre, and her play Dog Eat Dog which toured the Northwest with Collective Encounters Young Company. Her play for children, The Lost Things won Theatre Centre’s Skylines Showcase and she is currently under commission to write a Connections play for the National. Her short play Black Gold was recently performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre as part of the Hunger for Trade project.
SOUND OF SILENCE by Chloe Todd Fordham
The penalty for having an instrument on the premises is one finger. I don’t have enough fingers on my hands for your instruments.
An antique and very valuable ngoni – a traditional Mali instrument – goes on an extraordinary journey through hands and personal stories from England to Africa and back. This engaging and far reaching story explores how lives are destroyed through war and conflict, whilst championing music as a vital expression of resilience and resistance against the destructive power of fundamentalism.
Chloe’s first play Land’s End was selected for inclusion in the Arcola Theatre’s inaugural PlayWrought Festival and was one of 6 plays shortlisted for Theatre503’s Playwriting Award in November last year. Sound Of Silence is her second play. She is currently under commission with Theatre503 through their writers residency scheme, 503Five, and was one of five writers collaborating on Elexion earlier this year, which was co-written by the 503Five. She has had short plays presented at Theatre503 (Rogan Josh), RichMix (Girls) and RADA (Sound Bites). Chloe has always written in one form or another, but started writing seriously for theatre when she was invited to take part in the Royal Court Young Writers Programme, and went on to do an MA in Writing for Performance at Goldsmiths University.