From Page to Stage: Explore the Brilliance of the Longlisted Scripts for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023

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Now in its third year, The Women’s Prize for Playwriting today announces the 50 longlisted scripts for The Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023, selected from 1,002 entries.

Launched by Ellie Keel and Paines Plough in 2019, the Prize is designed to celebrate and support exceptional playwrights who identify as female or non-binary. By seeking out, championing and staging extraordinary new plays by women and non-binary people, the Prize strives to redefine and revitalise the canon for future generations.

The Prize is for a full-length play (defined as over 60 minutes in length), written in English, and the winning playwright wins £12,000 in respect of an option for Ellie Keel Productions and Paines Plough to co-produce the winning play. The Prize is sponsored by Samuel French Ltd, a Concord Theatricals company, who are the official publishing partner of the prize, and by commercial theatre producers Fiery Angel. The Founding Sponsor is the leading recruitment agency, PER.

The judges for this year’s Prize, chaired by Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre Indhu Rubasingham, are journalist Samira Ahmed, playwrights April de Angelis and Chris Bush, actor Noma Dumezweni, literary agent Mel Kenyon, journalist and critic Anya Ryan, Head of Play Development at the National Theatre, Nina Steiger, and Guardian Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner.

Ellie Keel, Founder Director of The Women’s Prize for Playwriting, today said, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it feels harder to be a freelance writer today than ever before. As belts tighten and precarity in general swells across our industry, I am deeply proud of the 1,002 writers who completed a play and sent it to us for consideration. What’s more, I’m in awe of the fact that these writers’ response to things getting harder seems to be to write bigger, better, and more boldly. Choosing only 50 plays from such a rich and exciting trove of submissions was incredibly difficult. Ultimately, the Longlist is a resource that I hope directors, artistic directors, producers, programmers, agents and creatives everywhere will mine for the very best of female and non-binary writing talent: these are 50 plays which will inspire and entertain audiences everywhere.”

The longlist in full is:

  • WORTHY WOMEN by Abi Zakarian
  • Birdie by Alison Carr
  • Girl Disappeared by Amy Ng
  • Sunrise at Katavi Park by Ana Peralta
  • To be a bat by Ariella Como Stoian
  • Tap Root by Ashley Milne
  • Cow and Pig by Ava Hickey
  • Watching a Whale Fall by Ayse Evans
  • Hello Charlie by Caoimhe Farren
  • Stuff & Things & Junk & Belonging by Carley Magee
  • Bellringers by Daisy Hall
  • Children of the Night by Danielle Phillips
  • Wonderkid by Eleanor Cartmill
  • the thing about touch by elle van lil
  • LUMIN by Emma Gibson
  • WISHBONE by Esme Mahoney
  • Pots and Pans and Prayers by Esohe Uwadiae
  • PRIVATE ADULT THINGS by Georgia Green
  • Dogs Don’t Do Wolves by Héloïse Thual
  • Spooky Action at a Distance by Jess Edwards
  • Thread by Jessica Siân
  • The Bouncy by Joanne Gallagher
  • An Unexceptional Mother by Judi Amato
  • the light that blinds by Kaleya Baxe
  • Watchdog by Kayla Feldman
  • This is a Gift by Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir
  • Cally by Laila Latifa
  • the invisible by Linda Marshall Griffiths
  • AHEMMAA (QUEENS) by Louisa Hayford
  • You Are Now Approaching Brackham-Under-Sea. Please Dive Carefully. by Lydia Sabatini
  • Ask Her If She Still Keeps All Her Kings in the Back Row by Martha Watson Allpress
  • very wet by Mary Higgins
  • Great Mother – Iya Ayaba by Mojola Akinyemi
  • The Stoor by Morna Young
  • Radiant Boy by Nancy Netherwood
  • The Peace by Natalie McGrath
  • Eleven at Night Somewhere Without You by Natasha Collie
  • BLOOD PLAY by Rachel Mars
  • Sweet Smoke by Roberta Livingston
  • Non-Negotiable by Rosie Pierce
  • Jicama by Sandy Foster
  • Intelligence by Sarah Grochala
  • Spirits by Sarah Sigal
  • A Good Day Will Come by Sepy Baghaei
  • The Angels Were Worms by Shaan Sahota
  • King Troll (The Fawn) by Sonali Bhattacharyya
  • Glass Houses by Sophie Jacome
  • Nine Avalanches by Stella Green
  • Small Talk by Tiwa Lade
  • Cambium Layer by Zoe Cooper

In the inaugural year of the Women’s Prize for Playwriting, two First Prizes of £12,000 were awarded. The first was to Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me by Amy Trigg, which premièred at Kiln Theatre to critical acclaim in May 2021, followed by an Audible production in June. The play embarked on a UK tour in 2022, directed by Joint Artistic Director of Paines Plough Charlotte Bennett. The second was to You Bury Me by Ahlam, directed by Joint Artistic Director of Paines Plough Katie Posner, which had a staged reading at the Lyceum Theatre in August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, and was developed for a major production at Bristol Old Vic, the Royal Lyceum Theatre and the Orange Tree Theatre in Spring 2023. Consumed by Karis Kelly was the 2021 winning script, and the play is currently in development, with further details to be announced.

The shortlist will be announced in late November, followed by the finalist plays in December. The winner(s) will be announced at a ceremony in London in January 2024.

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