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This autumn, the Dukes in Lancaster hosted the first ever Lancaster Playwriting Prize, in partnership with the Department for English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. In its first year, the prize focused on BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) playwrights of any age or experience, resident in the North West and more than 30 plays were submitted. Lancaster Playwriting Prize is an initiative arising out of the Cultural Partnership between Lancaster University and The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster. Lucy Briers, actor and Lancaster University graduate, supports this project along with the and Tamasha Theatre Company. The shortlisted writers and plays were all showcased on 19th October, and with a £1,500 cash prize up for grabs the competition was high.
The winner of the competition was none other than Adam Kotwal, a Lancaster University graduate from Bolton who received his prize for his piece Breaking News, a play about the aftermath of a terrorist attack. His tragicomedy focuses on a group of friends for whom life will never be the same after they witness a terrorist attack. It was a reaction to atrocities in Manchester, London and Paris. Adam said, in response to this new title as Tamasha Playwright 2019: “Before entering this competition, I just wrote for my own amusement but I would love to be able to write full-time, and this Prize has afforded me a unique opportunity.”
Tamasha Artistic Director, Fin Kennedy also said: “At Tamasha we were thrilled with the standard of applications for the Lancaster Playwriting Prize’s inaugural year. We were also struck by how many first-time writers had entered and how many had written new plays especially to enter. We seem to have tapped into some genuinely undiscovered diverse new writing talent in the region which is very exciting indeed.
We are looking forward to welcoming some of them as new members of our Tamasha Playwrights group and working with them all over the coming year.”
However, Adam wasn’t the only lucky writer at the showcase. Naomi Sumner Chan from Stockport received a £500 bursary to spend developing her next piece and mentoring from Freedom Studios in Bradford and Leanne Alabi from Warrington won a £500 bursary and an attachment shadowing and receiving mentoring from Lancaster University Creative Writing Lecturer, Tajinder Hayer during the development of his production with The Dukes.
Leyland’s Lewis Wren was awarded a £500 bursary and an attachment shadowing and receiving mentoring from Nick Ahad during the development and rehearsals of his forthcoming production of Glory with The Dukes and Red Ladder Theatre Company, while Santoshi Mann, originally from Blackburn, has the opportunity to become a Tamasha Playwright 2019 including travel expenses to London.
With the success of the first years Playwriting Prize, we’ll look forwards future showcases and the talent they’ll have to offer.