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Audible reveals multimillion-pound fund for emerging playwrights

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Audiobook giant Audible has launched a $5 million (£3.9 million) drive to commission and produce new audio plays by emerging writers.

Playwright Tom Stoppard and actor Annette Bening are among the figures sitting on an advisory board for the grants.

The Amazon-owned audiobook seller has set up the fund through its production arm Audible Studios and will commission and develop new English-language works by playwrights in the UK and the US.

The three-year fund will support the creation of one and two-person audio plays driven by language and voice, with the application process open immediately.

In its first year, Audible plans to offer grants to at least 25 playwrights.

The initiative is part of Audible’s attempts to support the development of theatre talent, which the company said would also see it work with drama schools and industry professionals over the next three years.

Audible’s chief content officer Andy Gaies said: “For two decades, Audible has embraced, celebrated and worked to elevate the artful performance of well-composed words.

“Today we extend that commitment to the world of theatre and to talented playwrights whose words ought to be heard in performance by gifted actors.”

An advisory board will collaborate with Audible in selecting recipients for the grants, which, alongside Stoppard and Bening, includes playwrights David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage and directors Oskar Eustis – of the Public Theater in New York – and Leigh Silverman.

Stoppard described the fund as an innovative way to commission original work, adding that it was “welcome news in hard times for arts funding”.