This year’s Prize


We are astonished to have received 2,561 entries to this year’s Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting – our biggest number of submissions ever! Over the last six months, through the website, we have hoped to support both new and experienced writers to take the plunge through workshops, toolkits and films. As the deadline loomed, and scripts flooded in, we realised this was probably going to be a popular year but we are truly thrilled and in awe of all those writers who have shared their work with us.  This is a massive 35% increase in entries from 2017.  As our dedicated team of readers delve into these scripts, we all have a deep respect and admiration for every single writer who has taken the time to tell their story and who has been brave enough to share their work with us.  This record number is testament to the unique power of writing for the live and immediate experience of theatre and shows how vital it is that new voices continue to be supported and heard. 


The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2019 prize is open to anyone aged 16+ in the UK, Ireland and the British Territories with a story to tell. The biennial prize is a partnership between property company Bruntwood, a major supporter of the arts, and world-class producing theatre, the Royal Exchange Theatre, in Manchester.

The Prize can be a springboard to a writing career. Its alumni include some the UK’s most respected playwrights such as Duncan Macmillan and Alistair McDowall. Anna Jordan’s 2013 Bruntwood Prize-winning play, YEN, was recently produced off-Broadway with Oscar-nominated actor Lucas Hedges; Kendall Feaver’s 2015 Judges’ award-winning play THE ALMIGHTY SOMETIMES is now a multi-award-winning play that has gone on to be produced by the Griffin Theatre Company, Sydney. She is now the Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights at the Belvoir, Australia.



Kwame Kwei-Armah, whose first performance as an actor took place at the Royal Exchange Theatre, comments: “It’s my absolute pleasure to return to The Bruntwood Prize, particularly having been part of the very first round in 2005, and to chair a panel of brilliant judges who have such a variety of experience, from performers to writers, directors, poets and journalists.

“In my eyes, the Prize has become such a profound and essential part of our cultural ecology for playwrights. It represents a most invigorating opportunity to undertake a leap of faith by virtue of a chosen pseudonym. So, send the thing that is brewing in you… the thing that says, ‘I must tell this story in a theatrical form’. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a first draft, or a final draft. Just send it!”

Kwei-Armah is joined on the judging panel by co-founders of The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Sarah Frankcom, Artistic Director, Royal Exchange Theatre and Michael Oglesby CBE DL, founder of the Bruntwood Group and chairman of The Oglesby Charitable Trust. The rest of the nine-strong panel comprises: Anna Jordan, Bruntwood Prize-winning playwright; Bridget Minamore, journalist, poet and critic; Jenny Sealey MBE, Artistic Director, Graeae Theatre Company; Kate Vokes, Director, Bruntwood Culture, and actor Shane Zaza. A new addition to the panel this year is ‘The People’s Judge’, Faith Yianni, selected following a search by the Prize and leading theatre critic Lyn Gardner for a member of the public to bring a fresh, new perspective to the judging process.


The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is a genuine endeavour to discover new stories and help playwrights develop their craft, providing everybody and anybody with the opportunity to write a play. It offers a fantastic opportunity to hone your writing skills, whether or not you have written for the stage before (35% of the entrants to the 2017 Prize had never written a play before). In addition to a high proportion of winning and shortlisted plays being produced professionally, each of the top 100 plays receives individual feedback from the Royal Exchange Theatre’s creative team.

The anonymity of the submissions is vital to the ethos of the Prize as it ensures that scripts are judged on individual merit with no preconceptions about the identity of the playwright.  Over 100 readers are employed to take the scripts through a rigorous process.  These readers are directors, producers, designers, actors, dramaturgs, literary managers, critics, agents and previous winners.  Once a script has been selected for the shortlist, it will have been read and championed by 16 different and distinct practitioners which we hope makes for a robust selection process.



Key dates
  • 21 Jan 2019
    Open for submissions from 6pm
  • 5 Jun 2019
    6pm - submission close
  • 26 Jun 2019
    Phase One Reading Complete
  • 19 Jul 2019
    Phase Two Reading Complete
  • 16 Aug 2019
    Phase 3 Reading Complete
  • 12 Sep 2019
    Longlist of Top 100 Plays Announced
  • 14 Oct 2019
    Shortlist Announced
  • 4 Nov 2019
    2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Ceremony
  • 29 Dec 2019
    Feedback sent to Longlist Plays

This year's judges