Submissions for the 2020 Verity Bargate Award have rocketed by 40% compared with the last year it ran, with a record 1,493 entries for this year’s prize.
The new writing award is run by London’s Soho Theatre, and was last awarded in 2017.
It is usually biennial, but under creative director David Luff - who joined in 2019 - the theatre has restructured its literary department.
“The Verity Bargate Award is generally a biennial event, however with the restructure last year the team took some time to prepare and work hard to reignite the award,” the theatre said, adding it had undertaken outreach work and had hosted about 20 workshops around the country.
“It was wonderful to see this hard work reflected in the increase in submissions,” the theatre said.
This year’s award will be judged by a panel including former Soho writers Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Arinzé Kene and Laura Wade, screenwriter Russell T Davies, and actress and playwright Lolita Chakrabarti.
The prize money for 2020 will be £7,500.
Literary manager Gillian Greer said: “It has been a stellar year for our flagship playwriting prize, the Verity Bargate Award. With a whopping 1,493 submissions, a 40% rise on 2017, the award is larger than ever before and we’ve been blown away by the quality of plays received. Our reading process will continue as normal while our building is closed, and we plan to announce our shortlist and winner upon reopening.”
Soho Theatre has also announced six writers who will be joining its Soho Six programme, who will each be co-commissioned with a theatre or production company, and work in residence with Soho Theatre for a year to write a new play. The six are: Willy Hudson, Yasmin Joseph, Nyla Levy, Racheal Ofori, Holly Robinson and Danusia Samal.
Soho Theatre has also announced three new theatre films to be shown on its on demand platform from May 26: The Special Relationship by Hassan Abdulrazzak, a specially filmed version of Patrick Sandford’s Groomed, and Good Girl, the debut play by Naomi Sheldon. All films will be available to rent for £4 each for 48 hours until August.