On the Bruntwood Prize readers 2019

UPDATED: 17TH JUNE with new reader stats on taking on greater numbers of readers for the record 2019 entries

All plays are submitted anonymously to the Bruntwood Prize and will be read by an expert panel of readers appointed by the Royal Exchange Theatre. There is an extensive five stage process to the reading before creating the shortlist. The readers as a cohort have a broad range of experiences and specialisms to try and give each submitted script the best chance.

The submitted scripts therefore go through a rigorous process to make it to the longlist and shortlist;

  • Phase One – reading the first 30 pages to identify approximately 900 scripts of potential interest.
  • Phase Two – a new set of readers reading the full script to identify the Top 250
  • Phase Three – a new set of readers reading the full script to identify the Top 40 for discussion in Phase Four and the longlist of Top 100 scripts eligible for feedback within 2019.
  • Phase Four – Script Meeting to discuss the Top 40 scripts and to decide on the Shortlist of scripts to be issued to the judges. This meeting is with core artistic staff at the Royal Exchange Theatre and external freelance directors. For the first time ever, key staff from our international partners will also be working on the script meeting phase.

As each script proceeds through the phases of reading it is addressed by a diverse team of readers. The Royal Exchange manages the reading process to ensure that each script is seen by readers with different ages, genders, work history, ethnicities and interests. The aim of the Prize is to find great plays in whatever shape or form they appear so the entry criteria are deliberately broad to allow first time writers and more experienced playwrights to be assessed on a level footing. We hope that in carefully administrating the reader demographics we ensure no script is overlooked due to an unconscious bias towards a particular way to tell a story.

Of course, the process is also totally anonymous. Script are submitted under a TITLE only, and if a reader recognises the text they report back to have the work reassigned to another reader. In the later stages- some writers will be contacted by the Bruntwood Prize Co-ordinator to temporarily rename the script to further protect the writers anonymity.

Of this years readers, who chose to provided information to us;

  • 15% Consider themselves disabled
  • 41% are BAME 
  • 65% are female and 3% are non-binary
  • 28% are LGBTA+
  • They are aged from their early 20’s to over 70 years old 

The cohort of readers is made up of theatre professionals, skilled in reading scripts. They include directors, designers, dramaturges and literary managers at leading producing theatres, actors, national critics and theatre commentators and previous Bruntwood Prize winners (the only playwrights to read- as they are no longer eligible to enter the Prize)

This year for the first time ever, the readers also include people nominated by our international partners, and members of the Royal Exchange Theatre audience – who were shortlisted for the Peoples Judge award. 

We’ll hear more from some of this years readers though-out 2019.


If you still have questions about the reading process, you may find the answer to your query in the Prize Guidelines and FAQ or contact us on bruntwood.prize@royalexchange.co.uk


Published on:
5 Aug 2019


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  1. I have lost the ability to use my computer, through illness, but I want to submit a script. can someone help me. These pages look like they are for people searching for information only.

    by Brian brown
    4:18 pm, 17 Jul 2019
    1. Hi Brian

      I’m afraid the Bruntwood Prize for playwriting 2019 closed to entries in early June. We won’t be opening again until 2021- the prize takes place every two year.

      I do use this site to keep people updated on the Bruntwood Prize process, and on other news relating to the Prize.

      The opportunities and events page here https://www.writeaplay.co.uk/opportunities-events/ also promotes other writing events, open calls and opportunities- I hope you find something of use!


      Chloe Smith
      Bruntwood Prize Co-ordinator

      by Chloe Smith
      4:24 pm, 17 Jul 2019