Papatango today announces that Igor Memic has won the 12th annual Papatango New Writing Prize for his debut full-length play, Old Bridge, from a record 1,504 entries. Also announced today were the other shortlisted writers: Jon Bradfield for Animal – from a story by Jon Bradfield and Josh Hepple; Julia Grogan for Playfight; Sarah Connors for Pushing on Open Doors, and Beru Tessema for Exile in North Weezy.
The winning play Old Bridge will be performed for the first time at the Bush Theatre, London – the start of a new partnership for Papatango with the theatre – as part of their reopening season post the Covid-19 pandemic. Influenced by Memic’s Bosnian heritage, Old Bridge explores the true story of what befell Mostar, his hometown, during the Yugoslavian civil war.
Judged anonymously, with this year’s winner jointly selected by Papatango and the Bush Theatre, the Papatango New Writing Prize was the UK’s first – and remains the only annual – opportunity guaranteeing a new writer a full production, publication by Nick Hern Books, a royalty of 10% of the gross box office, and a £6,500 commission with full developmental support for a follow-up play.
In addition, every entrant receives feedback on their script – a commitment made by no other company, especially significant as the Prize averages more submissions on a yearly basis than any other playwriting award.
Igor Memic said today, “When the phone call came, I was in disbelief. I never thought a play like this could make the shortlist, let alone win. Writing Old Bridge has been one of the most painful and important experiences of my life. This was my excavation. My attempt at healing old wounds. I never realised how much it said about our world today until that world stopped spinning.”
Artistic Director of Papatango, George Turvey, commented, “We’re thrilled to present such a fantastic, varied shortlist of brilliant writers, from a record number of plays. The talent of these writers is a real fillip at this challenging time. In particular, Igor’s Old Bridge was the stand-out choice for our entire reading team. We can’t wait to share it with audiences at the Bush Theatre, the new home of the Papatango Prize.”
Artistic Director of Bush Theatre, Lynette Linton, added, “Like us, the team at Papatango is passionate about developing and producing new playwrights so it is a joy to be partnering with them. We have already met a number of wonderful new writers through this partnership and look forward to reopening our doors and presenting Igor’s powerful new play as soon as we are able.”
Old Bridge will now be developed with Papatango, ahead of a production at Bush Theatre, with dates TBC. The Prize previously played for five years from 2015 at Southwark Playhouse, with these world premières receiving 16 nominations for Off West End Awards including Best New Play and Most Promising Playwright.