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Announcing the winners of the Plays to Perform competition

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Announcing the winners of the Plays to Perform competition

We can now announce the winners of our Plays to Perform competition, launched last year to celebrate Nick Hern Books’ 25th birthday.

The prizes up for grabs were the chance of a royalty-free production of up to five performances for one lucky group as well as two runner-up prizes of £100 worth of scripts from our website.

To enter, all we asked was for a short paragraph on one of the plays for which we hold the performing rights, telling us why you wanted to perform it. What made your chosen play stand out? What made it special, impressive and important?

We were blown away by the response. So many unusual and challenging scripts were brought forward and so many exciting and convincing reasons for staging them!  

The panel of judges consisted of two much-beloved and frequently performed playwrights: Fin Kennedy (author of How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found) and Amanda Whittington (Be My Baby, Ladies’ Day, Ladies Down Under and The Thrill of Love). They did have their work cut out for them with so many brilliant entries, full of passion, wit and conviction, and every single participant clearly raring to go with their chosen production!

Amanda Whittington says: ‘I rated them on how the stated aims and ambitions for the production connected with or responded to wider issues in theatre and society. Glad there's three prizes as it’s pretty difficult to pick a clear winner!’

Fin Kennedy: ‘It's terrific to see the excitement the competition generated.’

I must say we found the choice even harder and finally decided to bend the rules just a tiny bit and award one main prize and three runners-up prizes of £100 worth of scripts, therefore creating an extra prize. I hope you don’t mind.

So, it’s time to reveal the winners:

The three companies who have won £100 worth of scripts, and were just pipped to the post in our Plays to Perform Competition are…

Riot Productions who want to take Decade (a number of short plays by different writers, reflecting on the decade since 9/11) to the Edinburgh Fringe. They wrote:

‘As a company, we believe in theatre as an art form with a social purpose to initiate debate and re-contextualise modern history for our audiences, and ourselves. We’re interested in contemporary and gritty theatre which can spark conversation. Decade embodies all of these beliefs and intentions.’

Rough Hewn plan to stage Jack Thorne’s 2nd May 1997 at the Burton Taylor Studio in Oxford and wrote:

‘It would be brilliant to stage this play exactly seventeen years after it’s set, when the Labour Party last took over from the Conservatives, and exactly one year before the next General Election.

Reading College plan to stage The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell, adapted by Howard Brenton, at South Street Arts Centre. They wrote:

‘The play explores the divisions in society and why they are there. It has an immediate resonance with today’s political environment, where we have a culture of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor, benefits ‘scroungers’, and ideas about jobs being taken by people who are blamed for working for less pay. And of course the clear parallel with the people who almost destroyed the world’s economy getting away scot-free, while poor people are having to turn to food banks and loan shark companies.’

As you can see, there is a real urge and necessity behind all three proposals, and we hope that we will see these productions come to life soon.

But now, our overall winner. It is:

The Progress Theatre, Reading with a production of Brontë by Polly Teale, planned for November 2015.

‘At Progress Theatre we are often guilty of short-changing our female actors – since attending Lucy Kerbel’s inspiring talk [Lucy Kerbel is the author of 100 Great Plays for Women, which was launched at the National Theatre in November 2013; in her talk she highlighted the need for theatres to programme more plays which put women centre stage to modernise the theatrical landscape], I and others have been driven to programme plays with strong, central female characters. Brontë presents the private lives of three historically and artistically influential women in an engaging, dramatic, and even erotic manner.’

Director Stephanie Weller, on hearing that her entry to the competition was the overall winner, said:

‘I’ve been thinking about directing again for a while, in that window-shopping kind of way. I knew I wanted something with strong female roles (thank you, Lucy Kerbel), and something which challenged me with its structure and excited me with its subject matter. This competition did two things: made me look seriously and actively; and pushed me to focus on what I really wanted to do by committing those reasons to paper.’

We very much hope that those of you who didn’t end up winning will still decide to go ahead with your production. In any case I will be in touch with everyone who entered to let them choose one of our scripts for free.

We are very happy to help in making this production become a reality and will support it with advertising on our website, Facebook and Twitter.

Please keep in touch with us on Twitter @NHBperforming and do let us know how your projects are developing!


We are incredibly proud to present the winning entries to our competition...
Announcing the winners of the Plays to Perform competition