Katherine Soper has become the 10th anniversary recipient of the esteemed annual Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Award; triumphing for her debut play, Wish List.
Judged by theatre industry insiders including former Director of the National Theatre Nicholas Hytner, writer Miranda Sawyer and actor/writer Meera Syal, the Bruntwood Prize is the UK’s biggest playwriting award with close to 2,000 new plays submitted for consideration this year.
From those thousands of entries, Soper’s Wish List was announced the overall winner at a ceremony held today at the Royal Exchange Manchester where she wins a residency alongside the prize of £16,000.
The emerging playwright, who currently works at a perfumery on London’s Regent’s Street and wrote the topical drama as her dissertation at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, described the win as “the best boost of writerly confidence I could imagine”.
Her debut award-winning drama tells the story of Tamsin, the sole carer of her brother Dean who suffers from crippling OCD. When his benefits are cut, she is forced to take on a zero-hour contract in a desperate attempt to survive in a society where every system is stacked against them.
The timely script was not the only winner revealed today. Due to the high standard of this year’s entries, the judging team made the decision to award a Judges’ Award to a further four of the 2015 shortlist: Chloe Todd Fordham’s Sound Of Silence, Parliament Square by James Fritz, How My Light Is Spent by Alan Harris and Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver.
Speaking about his part in the award, Hytner commented: “The Bruntwood shortlist has been a pleasure to read, and it includes strikingly accomplished plays covering a startling range of urgent subject matter. It is a privilege to be able to recognise them and to be part of this imaginative and important competition.”
In its 10 year history, the Bruntwood Prize has awarded more than £160,000 to 17 different playwrights, and developed 16 full productions of new plays with 28 UK theatres. Open to anyone aged 16 and over, winning playwrights have gone on to have worked put on at some of the world’s most important stages including London’s West End, the Royal Court Theatre and Islington’s Almeida Theatre.