Levi David Addai wins Alfred Fagon writing award

Natalie Woolman
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Levi David Addai has won this year’s Alfred Fagon Award for his play Blacklands.

The £5,000 prize is given for the best new play for theatre in English by writers from Africa or the Caribbean or of African or Caribbean descent who are resident in the UK. It is named in memory of the writer and actor Alfred Fagon.

Blacklands follows a character’s search for forgiveness almost a decade after the murder of one of his classmates. Addai wrote the script while he was on attachment at the Royal Court Theatre.

The judges for this year’s award were Oladipo Agboluaje, Michael Bhim, Shah Husain, Sheelagh Killeen and Brian Walters, with Winsome Pinnock chairing.

Speaking to The Stage about this year’s winner, Pinnock said: “I think this has all the hallmarks of a really great play. It is very topical. There are quite a few plays about killings among young people, young black men specifically in London, but I don’t think any of them really ask the perpetrators to examine themselves. Usually these characters are presented as criminals.

“In this play, the boys who commit this crime are forced to examine the consequences of it. Actually, what this play shows is each of the boys in this play has a conscience and he is forced in some way to confront it. So you can see why that would be a compelling play to watch.”

The prize, which was set up in 1997 and is funded by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation, has been awarded to playwrights including Roy Williams in the past and Pinnock said she thought it still had an important place in theatre today.

She said: “I celebrate it, but I am sad that [the award] still needs to exist, in a way. But it is still harder for writers of African and Caribbean descent. It is hard for all writers, especially in these times.

“It’s celebrating our continuing contribution to British theatre.”

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The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. Photo: Noel Foster