From a shortlist of plays featuring tales of grief, loss, the Parsi diaspora, metaphorical ghosts, hooliganism, the Black British dating experience, gentrification in London, and queerness, it was a story about virtual reality grief-gaming, All My Friends Are Dead by Somebody Jones, that won Soho Theatre’s emerging playwriting prize Tony Craze Award 2022.
Named in honour of Soho Theatre’s former Artistic Director and first ever Verity Bargate Award winner, the Tony Craze Award is open each year to the playwrights on Soho Theatre’s Writers’ Lab, an entry-level course designed to support new writers to create a play over nine months.
Previous winners include Fran Bushe with A Gig for Ghosts, which finished its run at Soho Theatre last week, Louis Emmitt-Stern with Slippery, Farah Najib with Dirty Dogs, Adam Narat for New Pacific, Phoebe Eclair-Powell with Fury, Charlie Josephine with Bitch Boxer, and Patrick Russell with Antlers.
Speaking about this year’s vibrant mix of stories, Soho Theatre Creative Learning Producer Jules Haworth said: ‘It’s an honour to celebrate these gifted early-career writers, whose voices leapt off the page and sparked our panel’s excitement and curiosity. The Tony Craze Award champions courageous new writers emerging from the Writers’ Lab programme. We are excited to see how these writers and theatre-makers continue to flourish through the industry, in the years ahead.’
Award winner Somebody Jones’ All My Friends Are Dead will receive a workshop at Soho Theatre early next year.
Bloom, a video game developer, is about to become the pioneer of a new invention — Death Tech Entertainment. To help her partner Zara deal with the recent deaths that she’s been grieving, Bloom offers her a chance to bring her loved ones back to life in a video game called Soul’s End. But after virtually reconnecting with two important people from her past, Desmond and Russell, Zara isn’t so sure that she wants to return to the real world.
Somebody Jones is a Los Angeles native playwright/dramaturg, currently living, working, and dreaming in London. She received a bachelor’s in Theatre with an Emphasis in Playwrighting from the University of Southern California and a master’s in Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths University of London. Her work celebrates and champions Black culture in all of its charms and complexities. Jones primarily works within the genres of horror, magical realism, verbatim, and recently, Black fantasy. She’s currently under commission at the Bush Theatre.
Iona McTaggart’s When It All Turns To Dust, a modern ghost story of loss, life and community inspired by the real stories of Elephant & Castle’s Heygate Estate residents, came highly commended.