Meet the Shortlist- Jacob Kay

Jacob Kay was shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize in 2019 for his first play GLASS. Since then he has been working with LAMDA students and dramaturgs Suzanne Bell and Sarah Dickinson to develop the work 


By Jacob Kay

‘It’s like I’ve been swimming right. Swimming for my entire life up until now. I know I can’t swim but that isn’t the point. So I’ve been swimming, free to surface above and dive below whenever I wanted. But now… Now suddenly, the top has frozen over. Without warning and… And I can’t surface.’

If we travel from water (H2O) to silicon dioxide (SIO2), then Glass is the journey in between. Set in a futuristic dystopia where water has become a precious commodity, Glass deals with repression, responsibility and the fear of the unknown, as the people at its centre struggle to cope as their world, and also the very text itself, cracks and shatters around them.

Originally from Derby, Jacob studied Drama at the University of Lincoln. The experience expanded his horizons, giving him confidence in his writing ability and introducing him to writing for theatre, and he went on to complete an MA in Drama (Playwriting) in 2018. During this time, he was involved in numerous projects in theatre and film as a writer, actor and director, with many of his theatre works being performed at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre. Since graduating, he has continued to develop his craft. He was invited to a writers retreat organised and hosted by BBC Wales, co-writing a screenplay that was shortlisted for their It’s My Shout competition. As an independent filmmaker, he has multiple projects in development, and his short play Cattle was recently produced by The Blue Room (Lincoln).

Glass is his first full length play. He is eligible for the Original New Voice Award, as well as a Judges Award and the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.


What inspired you to write this play?

I would like to preface this answer by saying that I don’t feel that I have the authority to dictate the absolute meaning of Glass. After the play is out there, I really just become another spectator, and the work speaks to each person differently. That being said, Glass came from a place of fear. I think that was the catalyst for the play’s inception. Not just a personal fear, but also a more general fear of the unknown. Whilst I think that fear is something that has never not been relevant, it definitely resonates quite powerfully right now, as the unknown can permeate all aspects of one’s life.

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

I have always been interested in writing in one way or another, although I was properly introduced to writing for theatre during my studies at university. I would consider myself just starting out on my playwriting journey, still finding where my voice fits in the grand scheme of things, but it is a journey that I am eager to take.

How do you feel about being shortlisted?

It is a hurricane of emotions, mostly elation. Honestly, just the fact that my work has been read and appreciated is a spectacular thing, and the validation that comes with that is always going to provoke a positive feeling. Being able to write as a career is a privilege, and to be given an opportunity where my work can be experienced on a bigger scale is an honour.

What do you think about anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize?

Anything that promotes fairness and diversity is great in my books. I think the anonymity makes it about the work, which is how it should be. Take the focus away from the ego, and make it about the play.


Published on:
17 Feb 2020


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