The 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Judging Panel Announced

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015 Judging Panel

The panel will be chaired by Nicholas Hytner, former Artistic Director of the National Theatre.

Completing the panel will be:
•    Sarah Frankcom (Artistic Director, Royal Exchange)
•    Vivienne Franzmann (playwright and former Bruntwood winner)
•    Ramin Gray (Artistic Director, Actors Touring Company)
•    Bryony Lavery (playwright)
•    Michael Oglesby (Chairman, Bruntwood)
•    Miranda Sawyer (writer and broadcaster)
•    Meera Syal (actor and writer)


Nicholas HytnerNICHOLAS HYTNER became Director of the National Theatre in 2003, where his many productions include OTHELLO, PEOPLE, TIMON OF ATHENS, COLLABORATORS, ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS, HAMLET, LONDON ASSURANCE, THE HABIT OF ART, PHEDRE, ENGLAND PEOPLE VERY NICE, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, RAFTA RAFTA…, HENRY IV PARTS 1 AND 2, HIS DARK MATERIALS, THE HISTORY BOYS, STUFF HAPPENS and HENRY V. Under his directorship, the National brought in a new community of artists, produced in equal measure the classical repertoire and new work, introduced the Travelex ticket seasons and established National Theatre Live cinema broadcasts worldwide. Nicholas has worked widely in repertory theatre, at the Exeter Northcott, Leeds Playhouse, Royal Exchange and Royal Shakespeare Company. Other London theatre work has included MISS SAIGON (also Broadway and worldwide), THE IMPORTANC EOF BEING ERNEST and THE LADY IN THE VAN. Film credits include THE HISTORY BOYS, THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE and THE CRUCIBLE. Opera productions include DON CARLO (Royal Opera House and Metropolitan Opera), XERXES and THE MAGIC FLUTE (English National Opera), COSI FAN TUTTE and LA CLEMENZA DI TITO (Glyndebourne).
He has received, in addition to the BAFTA and Evening Standard awards for best British film, many other awards including three Olivier Awards, five Evening Standard Awards, the London Critics’ Circle Award, two NY Drama Desk Awards and two Tony Awards.  He is Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall Cambridge and a member of the Board of the Royal Opera House.

Sarah FrankcomSARAH FRANKCOM worked as a drama teacher in the East End, before starting to work with new writers and in drama schools. She spent time at the National Theatre studio, Oval House, The Red Room, and taught at The Poor School. Originally joining the Royal Exchange as Literary Manager, her recent productions have included: HAMLET (with Maxine Peake), BLINDSIDED, THAT DAY WE SANG, Royal Exchange & MIF13 co-production THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY (with Maxine Peake), BLACK ROSES, THREE BIRDS, ORPHEUS DESCENDING, MISS JULIE (a new version by David Eldridge), BEAUTIFUL THING, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, WINTERLONG (by Andrew Sheridan – Bruntwood Prize winner), PUNK ROCK (by Simon Stephens – MEN Award for Best Production), BLITHE SPIRIT, THREE SISTERS, ON THE SHORE OF THE WIDE WORLD (by Simon Stephens – Olivier Award for Best Play) and KES. Her work has also been seen at the National Theatre, Bush Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Soho Theatre and the Crucible.

Vivienne FranzmannVIVIENNE FRANZMANN was a teacher for thirteen years in a variety of London secondary schools. In 2008, she was one of four winners of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting with her first play MOGADISHU (Royal Exchange Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith) and went on to be awarded the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright in 2010. Her second play, THE WITNESS (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs) won a Pearson Playwrights’ Bursary attachment to the Royal Court. Vivienne was then commissioned to write a play for young people exploring technology for De Utrecht Spelen; SCARS started touring schools in the Netherlands and continues to tour today. In 2012 Vivienne was writer in residence for Clean Break Theatre Company, for whom she wrote PESTS (Royal Exchange and Royal Court Theatre Upstairs) and taught their playwriting course several times. Vivienne has also written for Channel 4, BBC 1, Radio 4 and Radio 3. She has recently been nominated for a Bafta for her BBC film for children LIZARD GIRL. Vivienne is currently under commission to the Almeida Theatre, Royal Court and Washington Studios.

Ramin GrayRAMIN GRAY began his professional career with a production of THE MALCONTENT (Latchmere Theatre) and was awarded a Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme bursary at Liverpool Playhouse in 1990, where he first directed SPRING AWAKENING and A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE before going on to focus on contemporary playwrights with productions of AT FIFTY SHE DISCOVERED THE SEA, A MESSAGE FOR THE BROKEN-HEARTED (also BAC), PIG’S EAR and HARRY’S BAG. For the Gate Theatre he then directed CAT AND MOUSE (SHEEP) (also Odéon Théâtre National de l’Europe), THE INVISIBLE WOMAN and THE CHILD. In April 2000 Ramin joined the Royal Court, first as International Associate, then from autumn 2005 as Associate Director. There he directed many world and British premieres, in the Theatre Upstairs including PUSH UP, JUST A BLOKE, TERRORISM, LADYBIRD, WAY TO HEAVEN, SCENES FROM THE BACK OF BEYOND, WOMAN AND SCARECROW and THE UGLY ONE (transferred to Theatre Downstairs and also Kontakt Festival, Poland); in the Theatre Downstairs ADVICE TO IRAQI WOMEN, MOTORTOWN, THE ARSONISTS, THE STONE and OVER THERE (also Schaubuehne, Berlin). Freelance productions include THE AMERICAN PILOT and I’LL BE THE DEVIL (Royal Shakespeare Company), KING OF HEARTS co-directed with Max Stafford-Clark (Hampstead Theatre and Out of Joint), CHAT ET SOURIS (MOUTON) (Théâtre National de Gennevilliers), IN PRAISE OF PROGRESS (Conservatoire National, Paris), AM STRAND DER WEITEN WELT (Volkstheater Wien), HARPER REGAN (Salzburg Festival and Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg), WAISEN (Schauspielhaus Wien), THE UGLY ONE (Praktika Theatre Moscow), CONSTELLATIONS (Schauspielhaus Wien; Aarhus Teater; Husets, Copenhagen). Since 2010 Ramin has been Artistic Director of Actors Touring Company for whom he has directed THE GOLDEN DRAGON, CRAVE, ILLUSIONS, THE EVENTS (also in Austria and in Norway). Opera includes DEATH IN VENICE (Hamburgische Staatsoper and Theater an der Wien), BLISS (Hamburgische Staatsoper), THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST (Royal Opera House and to be revived at the Barbican and Lincoln Center, NY in 2016) and next year Ramin will direct the world premiere of LA BIANCE NOTTE (Hamburgische Staatsoper).

Image Credit Scott Graham

Image Credit Scott Graham

BRYONY LAVERY’s plays include HER ACHING HEART (Oval House, Pink Paper Play Of The Year 1992), A WEDDING STORY (Oval House), FROZEN (Birmingham Rep, TMA Best Play Award, the Eileen Anderson Central Television Award, and then produced on Broadway where it was nominated for 4 Tony awards), LAST EASTER (The Door, Birmingham), STOCKHOLM (Plymouth Drum with Frantic Assembly, Wolff-Whiting award for Best Play 2008). Adaptations include UNCLE VANYA and A CHRISTMAS CAROL as an associate artist for The REP. Her recent work includes BEAUTIFUL BURNOUT (National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly, Fringe First at Edinburgh), KURSK (Young Vic and Sydney Opera House), CESCARIO (National Theatre), THURSDAY (Adelaide Festival), THE BELIEVERS (Frantic Assembly at Theatre Royal Plymouth and the Tricycle), QUEEN COAL (Sheffield Studio) and an adaptation of TALES OF THE CITY/MORE TALES OF THE CITY by Armistead Maupin for BBC Radio 4.  Forthcoming works include stage adaptations of 101 DALMATIANS (Chichester Festival Theatre), TREASURE ISLAND (National Theatre), BRIDESHEAD REVISITED (York Theatre Royal) and PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (ETT/Brink). Bryony is an honorary doctor of Arts at De Montfort University and a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.

Michael OglesbyMICHAEL OGLESBY CBE, DL founded the BRUNTWOOD group of companies in 1978, which has since become one of the leading commercial property owners in the North of England. At the end of 2013 he gave up executive responsibility in the Company and now devotes his time to a wide range of activities covering the arts, civic roles, philanthropy, health and education. Among these roles, he is chairman of MIDAS – the inward investment organisation of Greater Manchester and the co-chair of the GM LEP’s Business Support and Business Finance Advisory Board. In addition, he sits on the board of the North West Business Leadership Team, the Manchester China Forum and the EZ Strategic Board. In April 2007 Michael was installed as High Sheriff of Greater Manchester and in June 2014 he retired as Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester after six years in post. In 2006 he was voted Businessman of the year in the North West by the CBI and in May 2006 he received an honorary law doctorate from the University of Manchester. In June 2007 Aston University bestowed an honorary doctorate in Science upon him and in November 2007 the Royal Northern College of Music also conferred an honorary degree upon him. HRH The Prince of Wales presented his Medal for Arts Philanthropy to Michael, and his wife Jean, in November 2011.

Miranda SawyerMIRANDA SAWYER started her career at Smash Hits, before moving on to Select Magazine where she won the PPA Magazine Writer of the Year Award in 1993; the youngest person ever to do so.  She won the In The City music writer’s award in 1995 and, in 2012 Record of the Day’s Outstanding Contribution to Music Journalism award. A contracted feature writer for The Observer for almost twenty years, she is the paper’s radio critic and writes regularly on pop culture. She is the host of The Guardian’s popular Family Podcast. Miranda is a presenter for BBC 2’s The Culture Show, specialising in contemporary music, art and theatre. She has written and presented several TV and radio documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4, and is a regular guest on many review programmes. She was a judge for the 2007 Turner Prize, the 2010 Orange Prize and was on the panel that awarded Liverpool its Capital of Culture status. She is Deputy Chair of Tate Members’ Council and is on the board at the South London Gallery. Her first book, Park And Ride, was published by Little, Brown, & Company in 1999, and has been reprinted in paperback several times since. Her new book, Out Of Time is due to be published in 2015.

Meera SyalMEERA SYAL is a British-born actress/writer/comedian who won the National Student Drama Award and the Edinburgh Scottish Circle Critics’ Award for her self-penned one-woman show, ONE OF US. Television work includes the cult Brit/Asian comedy sketch show GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME (winner of eight national awards, including British Comedy Award for Best Comedy as well as BAFTA and EMMY nominations), Granny Kumar in THE KUMARS AT NUMBER 42 (BAFTA nomination for Best Comedy Performance, International EMMY for Best Comedy, British Comedy Award, Peabody Award USA); FAMILY TREE, LIFE ISN’T ALL HA HA HEE HEE (RIMA Award for Best Drama, adapted from her novel of the same name); MY SISTER WIFE (AFA Award for Best Actress), Auntie Hayley in Johnathan Harvey’s cult comedy BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, Tara Sodi in HOLBY CITY, Miranda in JEKYLL, geologist Nasreen Choudhury in DR WHO and playing Joyti De-Laurey in THE SECRETARY WHO STOLE £4 MILLION. In 2010 she wrote and appeared in her comedy short UNCLE SANTA for the Sky Arts series LITTLE CRACKERS.  Meera is currently shooting HBO Comedy THE BRINK opposite Jack Black. Film work includes: The screen adaptation of Ayub Khan Din’s play RAFTA RAFTA, now called ALL IN GOOD TIME, Rani in Hanif Kureishi’s SAMMI AND ROSE GET LAID, Miss Chauhan in BEAUTIFUL THING, JHOOM BARABAR JHOOM, Rashmi in MAD, BAD AND SAD, Pushpa in DESERT FLOWER and two films with Woody Allen, Molly in SCOOP and Kala in YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER.  She also recently shot Terry Jones’ ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING.  Theatre work includes MY GIRL (Theatre Royal Stratford East), BLOOD WEDDING (Half Moon/UK Tour), SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL (Bristol Old Vic), SERIOUS MONEY (Royal Court Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre and Public Theatre, NY), THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES (Old Vic, Madison Square Garden and West End), RAFTA RAFTA (National Theatre, Olivier Award Nomination for Best Comedy), SHIRLEY VALENTINE (Menier Chocolate Factory, Trafalgar Studios, Best Solo Performance What’s On Stage Awards 2011), MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (RSC, West End) and IF YOU DON’T LET US DREAM WE WON’T LET YOU SLEEP (Royal Court Theatre).  She has also just opened at the National Theatre in BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS directed by Rufus Norris. Writing credits include: the novels LIFE ISN’T ALL HA HA HEE HEE and ANITA AND ME (winner of Betty Trask Award, shortlisted Guardian Fiction Award and on the recommended reading list for schools); BHAJI ON THE BEACH (Umbi Films, Channel 4 Films); MY SISTER WIFE (BBC 2); BOMBAY DREAMS (Apollo Victoria Theatre, London and Broadway Theatre, New York – nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Musical) and the screen adaptations of both her novels. Meera Syal is the recipient of 11 National Awards including the Women In Film and Television’s Creative Achievement Award (2008) and was awarded an MBE for Services To The Arts.


The 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is open to writers in the UK and Ireland aged 16 and over. More information on the Prize, including how to enter and the closing date for entries, will be announced shortly.

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is Britain’s biggest playwriting competition.  This round will mark the 10th anniversary of the Prize, which has supported the development and productions of a significant number of playwrights since its inception in 2005.  17 playwrights have been awarded a total of £160,000.  There have been thirteen critically acclaimed productions of winning entries, as well as a number of productions of plays elsewhere that were identified through the judging process.

Over 9,000 entries have been generated from across the United Kingdom and winning playwrights have gone on to have work produced at the Royal Court Theatre, Almeida Theatre, on Broadway and in the West End.  It is a significant investment in playwrights and support for new work on stage.  More information about the Prize can be found here.

Published on:
28 Jan 2015

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