Papatango today announces that Laura Waldren has won the 15th annual Papatango New Writing Prize for her first full-length play Some Demon, from 1,468 entries.
Also announced today were the other shortlisted writers: Piers Black for My Dad Hunts Bears; Georgia Green for Private Adult Things; Yolanda Mercy for Handsworth Boys; and Hannah Shury -Smith for Go Back Home!.
The winning play Some Demon explores life inside an eating disorder unit. It will have its world première at the Arcola Theatre in summer 2024 – with full information to be announced at a later date – and will be published by Nick Hern Books. The four shortlisted writers will each receive £500 and their plays will be filmed as staged readings, digitally broadcast for a global network on The Playwright’s Laboratory.
In addition, to celebrate the 15th year of the Prize, Papatango have partnered with Phil Temple at Birdie Pictures to launch an extra commission for one promising entrant, whose script missed out on the shortlist but whose talent and voice demand recognition. This commission has been awarded to Josh Barrow, whose entry Sweet Heathens impressed the entire reading team. He will now receive £2,500 to write a 10 minute short film, which the company will co-produce with Birdie Pictures and release in 2024. The short film commission was made possible with support from the Genesis Foundation Prize.
Judged anonymously, 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 8% of the box office, and a £7,000 commission with full developmental support. This Prize has recently expanded to support the shortlisted writers with a £500 fee and a streamed reading to promote their play worldwide, with the aim of securing full productions and new opportunities.
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.
Laura Waldren said today, “It’s a huge privilege — and a massive shock! — to have won. I entered the Prize hoping to get some feedback, and never expected in a million years this would happen. Eating disorders are still deeply misunderstood illnesses, and this has been a very difficult, personal but important play to write — I’m so honoured that Papatango have chosen to share it, especially given how hard it is right now for debut writers to get their work read, let alone produced.”
Papatango’s George Turvey and Chris Foxon added, “We are thrilled and privileged to realise the work of six such brilliant and distinctive writers, in stage, screen and digital forms – as well as to nurture the talent of 1,468 entrants, the quality of whose plays was unquestionably higher than ever. That the Prize has found a way to expand and showcase more new voices, despite being denied Arts Council England project funding after more than a decade of extraordinary subsidised success, is testament to its pivotal role opening pathways into theatre. It is more essential than ever in a context of massive cuts to programming and development.”
LAURA WALDREN is a writer and actor from Hull, and a current writer in residence for Pentabus Theatre. Some Demon is her first full-length play. Her debut screen work, This Is Hell, which she co-wrote and starred in, won the Pilot Light TV Festival and screened at the BAFTA and BIFA-qualifying Bolton International Film Festival. As an actor she recently appeared in the critically acclaimed second series of I Hate Suzie.
Other writers produced under the Prize include Dawn King, Dominic Mitchell, Iman Qureshi, Samuel Bailey, Tom Morton-Smith, Fiona Doyle, Matt Grinter, Luke Owen, Louise Monaghan, James Rushbrooke, Tajinder Singh Hayer, Tom Powell, Jaki McCarrick, Clive Judd, Igor Memic and Nkenna Akunna. Collectively, writers launched through the Prize have won Olivier, BAFTA, Critics’ Circle, The Times Breakthrough, OffWestEnd and RNT Foundation Awards, been nominated for the James Tait Black Drama Prize and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, premièred in over thirty countries worldwide, and gone on to work with many leading companies as well as in the West End.