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Bruntwood Prize announces Kwame Kwei-Armah as chair of the judges and new playwriting categories

Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo: Richard Anderson

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2019 is to include two new categories, as Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah is announced as the chair of the judging panel.

The new categories are the original new voice award – for debut writers – and the international award, for playwrights from Australia, Canada and the USA.

Winners of both categories of the biennial prize for new, unpublished plays will each receive £8,000. The awards are run by Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in partnership with property company Bruntwood,

As well as the two new categories, there is an overall prize of £16,000 and a judges prize of £8,000.

The winners of all four categories will have the opportunity to enter into a relationship with the Royal Exchange, with the aim of developing their play towards a production.

The prize has also announced it will launch a 10-week online playwriting programme, developed by figures including the Royal Exchange Theatre’s dramaturg Suzanne Bell and playwright Chinonyerem Odimba, with tips for debut writers.

In addition, it will run a series of live-streamed online workshops with playwrights including Tanika Gupta and Winsome Pinnock.

Alongside Kwei-Armah, other judges announced for the 2019 prize include the Royal Exchange’s artistic director Sarah Frankcom, Graeae Theatre Company’s artistic director Jenny Sealey and playwright Anna Jordan.

For the first time this year, the Bruntwood Prize has recruited a people’s judge, Faith Yianni, who was selected following a search by the prize and theatre critic Lyn Gardner for a member of the public to “bring a fresh, new perspective to the judging process.”

Bruntwood Prize to recruit audience member for 2019 judging panel [1]

Kwei-Armah said: “It’s my absolute pleasure to return to the Bruntwood Prize, particularly having been part of the very first round in 2005, and to chair a panel of brilliant judges who have such a variety of experience, from performers to writers, directors, poets and journalists. In my eyes, the prize has become such a profound and essential part of our cultural ecology for playwrights.”

A shortlist of 10 plays will be announced on October 14, 2019, and the winner will be announced at a ceremony at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre on November 4.