Meet the Shortlist- Eve Leigh

Salty Irina
By Eve Leigh

‘I’ve got the world at the tip of my fingers, I’ve got the world at the tip of my tongue, I’ve got the world in my mouth.”

Salty Irina is the story of two queer girls in love, who see fascism rising in their university town and decide to do something to stop it. But when they go undercover to a local far-right festival, they are shocked by what they find.

Eve Leigh is a playwright and theatremaker. Upcoming productions include MIDNIGHT MOVIE (Royal Court, November-December 2019) and WHILE YOU ARE HERE (The Place/Dance East, October 2019). Past plays include THE TRICK (Bush Theatre, national tour); SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE (Royal Court/RWCMD); THE CURTAIN (Young Vic Taking Part); STONE FACE, and SILENT PLANET (both Finborough Theatre). Installation work includes MOVIMENTO/VARIATIONS (36 маймуни/Bulgarian National Theatre Festival); YOUR FUTURE (HAU/Sophiensaele/Ballhaus Ost/Camden People’s Theatre). Dramaturgy includes HOW TO WIN AGAINST HISTORY (Young Vic). She is one of the Royal Court’s two Jerwood playwrights of 2019.


What inspired you to write this play?

Reporting on the trial of Beate Zschaepe was the immediate trigger to get started, but a friend of mine (who, like me, is Jewish) had gone undercover at a far-right festival in Central Europe some years before, and had used a name similar to Salty Irina as her alias. I told her that one day I’d write a play called Salty Irina. She’s quite surprised that I actually have! I can’t wait to tell her about the shortlisting.


Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a playwright?

I started by directing – I was too shy to write, for a long time. I’ve not had any formal theatre training, but I’ve read a lot and done new writer development programmes at the Royal Court, Lyric Hammersmith, and Orange Tree. I continue to work a lot in devised and community theatre as well as new writing, which I love. Each practice feeds the others.


How do you feel about being shortlisted?

Incredibly happy. I’ve submitted to the Bruntwood three times before and never even been longlisted, so keep trying, you never know!


What do you think about anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize?

I think it’s brilliant – it feels a lot more equitable this way. I think UK theatre as a whole would be healthier if there were many more anonymous submissions processes. The Bruntwood’s track record really speaks for itself – wonderful writers who don’t necessarily have much of a profile within the industry come through and do really well, and UK theatre is richer for it.

Published on:
26 Oct 2019 Watch video


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