Laurie Nunn’s brilliant Netflix’s series Sex Education debut in early Jan 2019. In the run up to the ceremony we profiled all the shortlisted writers and their plays. Laurie went on to win a Judges Award for her first play KING BROWN.
To find out more about the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting please go to https://www.writeaplay.co.uk/this-years-prize/
King Brown- Laurie Nunn
1972, Australia, the outskirts of Melbourne. Twelve year-old Lee is living with her grandmother, brother and uncle in Honor Park, a forgotten suburb at the end of the train tracks. In the midst of a searing heat wave her father returns home following a long absence. The return of the patriarch will force Lee’s family to confront its legacy of abuse. King Brown is a visceral exploration of inherited dysfunction and toxic masculinity.
Laurie was born in London and grew up in Victoria, Australia. She studied writing and directing at the VCA school of Film and TV in Melbourne. She then moved back to the UK to complete an MA in screenwriting at the National Film and Television School. Since graduating in 2012, she has developed original projects with Eleven Film/Channel 4, Kudos Film and Television, Wigwam Films and Revolution Films. Her feature film script ‘The Summer House’ is in development at Bird Flight Films.
‘King Brown’ is her first full play.
What inspired you to write this play?
The inspiration for ‘King Brown’ comes from my mother’s childhood in Australia during the 1970’s. She overcame great adversity in her early life and I have always wanted to write about her experience growing up. I also spent a large part of my youth in Australia and have always found the landscape to be compelling and otherworldly. I wanted to evoke this feeling through the story of a dysfunctional family trying to make ends meet in an unforgiving environment. During the writing process, I realised there was also a lot I wanted to explore about Australia itself, particularly its violent colonial past and how this history continues to feed into the myth of ‘The Lucky Country’. Through writing this play, I felt able to examine patterns of toxic masculinity within families and to connect my mum’s history with my own evolution. Ultimately it was a deeply cathartic experience.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a playwright?
My background as a writer is in Film and TV, ‘King Brown’ is the first play that I’ve written. Whilst I’ve always loved going to the theatre and reading plays, I never thought to try writing for the stage until someone suggested I give it a go. Once I came up with the initial idea for the play, I was lucky enough to do a theatre workshop with a director and group of actors. This experience helped cement the story I wanted to tell. However, when it came to writing the first draft, I found the experience more daunting than I expected as I was so used to thinking in screenplay structure. I spent weeks reading my favourite playwrights and trying to figure out how they did it, which was extremely helpful. When I eventually got into the process of writing the play I discovered that by setting the piece in one location I could solely focus on character and dialogue, which felt so liberating. I really hope to write more plays, as I loved the experience.
How do you feel about being shortlisted?
Being shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize feels absolutely amazing. I never thought that it would get this far in the process. Knowing that my play has been read and appreciated in an anonymous context is a real confidence boost to continue writing for the stage.
What do you think about the anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize?
I think that the anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize is what makes it so special. It’s rare to be given an opportunity to present your work to people on a completely equal playing field, especially in an industry that is as fiercely competitive as this one.