The Bruntwood Prize 2019- SHORTLIST

We’re delighted to be able to reveal the 15 new scripts by established, emerging and debut playwrights that are in the running for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.

This year’s 15 shortlisted scripts were selected from 2,561 new plays submitted to the Prize following the competition launch in January. Each playwright entered anonymously, meaning all scripts were judged on their own merit by our team of readers, with no knowledge of the writer’s background or previous experience. For the very first time, five plays from Australia and the USA are also shortlisted for the new International Award.

The Prize has a £40,000 fund available across four new categories. As well as an overall winner, who takes home £16,000, there are three further categories: The Judges Prize (£8,000), the Original New Voice for debut writers (£8,000) and the International Award (£8,000), for writers invited to enter anonymously by the Prize’s international partners.


The Bruntwood Prize 2019 Shortlist


The 10 scripts in the running for the overall £16,000 prize are as follows (listed alphabetically by surname).


  • black bird by babirye bukilwa

  • Shed: Exploded View by Phoebe Eclair-Powell

  • Neptune by Sam Grabiner

  • The European Hare by Sami Ibrahim

  • Glass by Jacob Kay

  • Salty Irina: (Retitled as ‘Title Redacted’ for the judging process) by Eve Leigh

  • Hares by Lee Mattinson

  • Ballybaile by Jody O’Neill

  • Akedah by Michael John O’Neill

  • Glee & Me by Stuart Slade


Four of these playwrights shortlisted for the overall Prize – babirye bukilwa, Sam Grabiner, Jacob Kay and Michael John O’Neill – are also eligible for the Original New Voice Award. This new prize is available to playwrights who have not had full-length play professionally produced for 12 performances or more in a professional venue. Jacob, babirye and Michael have all been shortlisted with their first full length script.


The Bruntwood Prize International Award sees five playwrights from Australia and the USA vie to be crowned winner. They are (listed alphabetically by surname):


  • TAMBO & BONES by Dave Harris (USA)

  • Pavlov’s Dogs by Emme Hoy (Australia)

  • untitled f*ck miss sa*gon play (srsly this is not the title) by Kimber Lee (USA)

  • This Land Was Made by Tori Sampson (USA)

  • Periods of Collapse OR Mother Russia by Lauren Yee (USA)


The shortlist is vivid, imaginative and topical, with politics, mental health, race relations and climate change just some of the themes appearing within the scripts.

Suzanne Bell, Dramaturg at the Royal Exchange Theatre, said: “I am extremely pleased to present this year’s impressive shortlist for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, which for the first time includes internal entries. It’s thrilling to see submissions growing year-on-year, and it is fantastic to celebrate the outstanding achievement of our 15 shortlisted writers who have been selected from over 2,500 entries. Theatre, as we know, is a mirror to the world. So, it comes as no surprise that many of the shortlisted plays reflect our times. From highlighting the crisis of mental health and the rise of the far right to stereotypes portrayed and enforced by the media, the 2019 shortlist represents the remarkable breadth of talent in the UK and further afield.”

Bryony Shanahan, Joint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre and judge for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, added: “The Bruntwood Prize engages, encourages, supports and celebrates the craft of playwriting, beginning with the phenomenal online resources on and culminating in the help each of our winning writers will receive from the Royal Exchange. New work is the way in which theatre remains alive, and a vital way in which we can reflect on the world around us. These 15 writers have bravely shared their stories with us, and it is fantastic that we can celebrate their hard work and dedication and creativity with this announcement today.”


You can find out more about each of the shortlisted plays, and their playwrights here:

Over the coming weeks, we’ll also be profiling each of the shortlisted writers daily here on and on the @bruntwoodprize twitter platform. Huge congratulations to each of the writers!

The winners of the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on Monday 4th November 2019. The ceremony will be streamed live here on the writeaplay site homepage from 3pm.


Published on:
4 Nov 2019


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