Kings Cross Award
Following the success of our staged reading of Ian Townsend's The House in Sofia with a Map of its Surroundings, we round up this year's King's Cross Award for New Writing
The King's Cross Award
The King's Cross Award for New Writing recognizes and honours outstanding achievement by emerging playwrights. It seeks imaginative, original work, which explores the unique possibilities of writing for the stage. The award is open to writers of all levels of experience in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and scripts must be unpublished or currently unperformed.
Past winners include Rob Johnson, Debbie Jones, James Walker, Paul Jenkins, Jane Elson and Evan Placey. The winning playwright is awarded a £5,000 cash prize, as well as a staged, rehearsed reading. This year, there was a team of 15 readers, as well as a judging panel of 6 industry professionals, which in previous years has included noted playwrights such as Debbie Isitt, Robin Soans and Mark Ravenhill, in addition to Jack Bradley, literary manager of the National Theatre, leading theatre critic Aleks Sierz, and Nick Quinn from The Agency, a top literary agent.
Several winning and shortlisted writers from previous years gained a literary agent as a direct result of involvement in the contest, and many of their plays have been performed in London and beyond. 2009 winner Evan Placey's The Mother of Him, for example, was produced here at The Courtyard and directed by Guy Retallack. It was subsequently shortlisted for the Meyer-Whitworth Award at the National Theatre, and was adapted for radio for BBC Radio 3 in 2013. Likewise, 2011 winner Rob Johnston's play, Einstein's Daughter, went into full production with Freerange Theatre and is currently on UK tour. It has received excellent 4 and 5 star reviews, and was nominated for Best Play and Best Actress.
This Year's Award
This year, Ian Townsend claimed the award with his play, The House in Sofia with a Map of its Surroundings. He came first out of over 300 applicants and a shortlist of 5 scripts. Ian's script was selected by a panel consisting of June Abbott (Joint-Artistic Director, The Courtyard Theatre), John Burgess (ex-Head of New Writing and Director at The National Theatre Studio), Nicola Baldwin (playwright, dramaturg), Prof. Kenneth Pickering (Professor of Drama and Theatre at The University of Kent), Robin Soanes (actor & playwright) and Sarah Meadows (dramaturg, director).
Ian has been involved in theatre for over 30 years as writer, actor, director and producer, and won the Manchester Theatre Award in 2013 for his play, All the Bens. Since then, his radio play, The Lonely Walk Home, was awarded the 2014 Alfred Bradley Bursary Award, and is currently on attachment with the Octagon Bolton as part of the BBC's Writersroom 10 scheme. His other works include The Final Days of Fringe Theatre (Manchester, London), Granny Must Die (Manchester, Edinburgh, Henley, Essex, South Africa), Two Turtle Doves (Manchester, London), Fringe Quartet (Manchester, Surrey, Cornwall) and The Last Chair (Manchester, West Sussex).
The House in Sofia with a Map of its Surroundings concerns secrets and the issues of their concealment and disclosure. 14-year old Jack refuses to talk to his father, Tom; Eve and her dying husband, Michael, hide information from one another, and Gemma is burdened by her own set of problems. When the characters' lives are brought into collision, they are forced to interact with each other, allowing them to handle their secrets in surprising and unexpected ways.
Following his success, Ian has commented that:
'The Kings Cross Award has been a great opportunity to develop my writing, get my name known outside of Manchester, and see how the play works in front of an audience. As well as the development money and the recognition that a national award gives, it has also helped my confidence as a writer, and it's been great to work with a dramaturg who really challenged and supported me, and a director and creative team who believed in the play.'
As Ian highlights, the award aims to bring the work of top-class writers towards the forefront of London's theatre scene, offering a prize which will assist their long-term career development.
Staged Reading at The Courtyard
This October, an industry invite staged reading of The House in Sofia with a Map of its Surroundings was held in Main House. It was attended by 100 people, and the performance was directed by Sarah Meadows. The cast was as follows:
Jack: Andy Owens (http://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/18/M179701.html)
Eve: Joanne Dakin (http://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/1/F75208.html)
Gemma: Cassandra Bond (http://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/1/F147140.html)
Tom: Murray Taylor (http://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/1/M109952.html)
Michael: Mark Stanton (http://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/1/M50012.html)
Sarah, who directed the staged reading, arrived in London in 2012 to work at the Court Theatre Training Company. She was vice-chair of Scriptworks new writing company (www.scriptworks.net) for 3 years, developing new writing in the North West before setting up Duckdown Theatre and The Script Sessions.
Special thanks are given to Nicola Baldwin, June Abbott, Tim Gill, Rupert Holloway, Melanie Waha and Michael Gonta for the success of the reading.
If you are considering taking part in next year's award, click here for further information: http://www.thecourtyard.org.uk/images/content_pdfs/32.pdf.
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