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Playwright Mufaro Makubika wins 2017 Alfred Fagon Award

Mufaro Makubika’s Shebeen has won the 2017 Alfred Fagon Award for the best new play by a black British playwright.

The play, which is centred on Nottingham’s Caribbean community, will premiere at the Nottingham Playhouse in June next year.

Makubika was presented with the award by screenwriter and director Amma Asante at a ceremony at the National Theatre in London.

The award, named after the esteemed black British playwright, is given to a new play by a writer of Caribbean or African descent who is resident in the UK.

Other shortlisted nominees included Archie Maddocks for Nine Nights, David Judge for SparkPlug, Inua Ellams for the Barber Shop Chronicles – which is currently showing at the National Theatre – and Melanie Pennant for A Black Fella Walks into a Bar.

Makubika said: “I was born in Zimbabwe and I came to England when I was 16, I saw my first play when I was 18 and I fell in love with the theatre. This has been an award that I wanted to get involved in ever since then.

“Shebeen is a play about the place I live – St Ann’s in Nottingham. Shebeen is about my neighbours, my family and the community of St Ann’s, and a history that you might not know, but I felt it was important to shine a light on.”

Two other prizes were presented during the ceremony, including the audience award, which went to Akpore Uzoh for his play A Day in the Life, which tells the story of a young black man who is wrongfully arrested and convicted.

Uzoh said: “Thank you for this award, because I understand the power of it. I understand how it can push things forward. It’s been a tough struggle to get this play off the ground, in a good way. I’ve had to fight, and this is something I wasn’t really expecting, so I am overwhelmed.”

The Roland Rees bursary of £3,000, awarded to enable playwrights to devote more time to writing, went to playwright and documentary film director Beverly Andrews.

Andrews said: “It means a lot [to be recognised]. For black playwrights it’s so hard – there’s such a narrow window of opportunity, which means we carry the weight of expectation on our shoulders.”