Viv Franzmann, Bruntwood winner in 2008 and author of MOGADISHU, writes today in The Times about her experience of being shortlisted for the prize and the journey that she’s been on since she won. MOGADISHU won the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright in 2010 and saw the play produced this year at the Royal Exchange and then transferred to the Lyric Hammersmith in London. Viv writes:
I was working as Head of Department in a school and I was about to teach a Drama lesson when I found out I’d been short-listed for the Bruntwood. I was in my studio at break time, trying to do a million things at once – drink my tea, eat something, set up for my next lesson and check my email. And there it was, a confirmation message that I was on the shortlist. I think it was probably one of the most exciting moments of my life. I remember standing up with a cup of tea in my hand reading and re-reading the email over and over again. It felt amazing and that anything was now possible.
She goes on to describe how her career has developed since the award was made and the impact it’s had on her as a writer:
Being one of the winners of the Bruntwood changed everything. It enabled me to begin to see myself as a writer and think about taking a different career path. And the prize money certainly helped. Shortly after the awards ceremony I got an agent and I am now a full time writer. I am Writer in Residence at Clean Break theatre company and my new play is being produced at the Royal Court next year…
…I’d always thought that theatre was a bit of a closed shop, but the truth is that if people think you are good enough, you get an enormous amount of support and encouragement because people really want you to succeed. The process taught me that the play you first write is going to go through a lot of changes before it lands on stage and it is important to listen to all the advice you are given, but equally it is important to hold on to your own opinion and remember what brought you to the story in the first place.
I wasn’t a writer before I entered the competition. Mogadishu was my first play and I wrote it specifically for the Bruntwood. If I hadn’t had that deadline, I doubt very much whether I would have written anything. So the competition made me a writer. It has led me to opportunities far beyond what I could have ever imagined when I first sat down in front of my computer.