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Manchester’s Powder Keg wins Royal Exchange’s Hodgkiss award

Members of Powder Keg, the previous winner of the Hodgkiss award.
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Manchester theatre company Powder Keg has won the Royal Exchange Theatre’s 2016 Hodgkiss award.

The £4,000 prize will see Powder Keg’s play Bears developed and presented at the theatre in 2017.

As previously reported by The Stage, the Hodgkiss award was re-imagined this year. Previously it has focused on plays with a traditional writer/director partnership. However, this year it sought applications from theatremakers who are “inventive, urgent and unconstrained by pre-existing notions of what theatre can be”.

A total of 78 applications were received for the prize, with seven shortlisted to present ideas for new work to a judging panel, which includes associate artistic director Matthew Xia.

Xia said the venue was aware of the need to “develop futureproof theatremakers who are engaged with and responding to the zeitgeist”.

He described Powder Keg’s Bears as an “urgent and heartbreaking call to action around environmental issues, presented in a playful and compassionate manner”.

Susan Hodgkiss, founder of the prize, said: “The arts allow you to go to other places out of your everyday world. They create, challenge and always stimulate. I am really excited to see the artists and the work they have produced today. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for those talented young people to have the potential of being mentored by the Royal Exchange.”

Powder Keg was formed in Lancaster in 2013. The company comprises Josh Coates, Emma Geraghty, Ross McCaffrey, Hannah Mook and Jake Walton. It focuses on combining “pop and politics to tell stories”.