Winner announced for A Play For the Nation's Youth

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fiona Doyle's play SO Gay has been announced as the winner of A Play for the Nation's Youth.

This national competition was organised by Salisbury Playhouse, Nick Hern Books, Out of Joint, BBC Writersroom and the National Association of Youth Theatres and received more than 60 submissions.

SO Gay follows a group of teenagers at a multi-cultural, mixed sex secondary school. Katie, Eamon, Leanne and Sarah face the battles of growing up and the challenges of difference and acceptance amongst the obstacles of their peers, parents and teachers.

The plays were read in several rounds by representatives of each partner organisation but also, crucially, by young people of the age for which the plays were written. SO Gay impressed the judges with its theatrical potential and engaging subject matter. Moreover, Fiona’s story, language and characters were ones that a company of young actors related to and wanted to explore the most.

Fiona Doyle, from Kerry, Ireland, studied Drama and Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths College. She has won the £1000 seed commission and will now receive support from the partner organisations to develop the script prior to workshops and a rehearsed reading.

Doyle, 34, says “This is really unexpected. I’m totally thrilled. I’ve only been writing seriously since 2012 and this is the best thing to happen with my work since then. I am currently based in both Kerry and London so that I have time devoted to my writing. Winning A Play for the Nation’s Youth is a clear example of how this is working for me”.

The UK has a thriving network of youth theatres who often struggle to find expansive plays that both captivate and challenge. This new partnership was set up to discover a new play that could be performed by a large cast of young people and to engage an exciting playwright with the nation's young actors.

Max Stafford-Clark, Artistic Director of Out of Joint (and author of several books published by NHB) says, "It is rare to see a good, gritty, original play for young people, written in and about the here and now, with characters as young as those who will perform them. This lively play redresses this, and I think it will also be very enjoyable to perform. I wish it well and look forward to seeing it staged".

Nick Hern Books has a strong tradition of publishing plays for young people, including works by leading playwrights such as Fin Kennedy and Stuart Paterson. Recent publications include Ali Taylor’s adaptation of Robert Westall’s Carnegie medal-winning novel The Machine Gunners, Mike Kenny’s dramatisation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale The Wind in the Willows, and Helen Edmundson and Neil Hannon’s version of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, which was nominated for the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards 2012.