17-year-old student Mackenzie Wellfare from HSDC Alton in Hampshire is announced as the winner of the National Theatre’s annual playwriting competition for 14–19-year-olds. This year has seen more first drafts of scripts submitted to the competition than ever before, with Mackenzie’s play Perspective selected from over 400 final entries from 74 secondary schools and colleges across the UK.
Inspired to write this play to share his own experience of autism as well as others’, Perspective by Mackenzie Wellfare explores the experiences of a teenage boy, Leo, with autism through his conversations with his best friend Shaun. Set in his bedroom, Leo’s big imagination fills the stage as he considers how the world sees him.
Perspective was selected from a shortlist of nine plays by a panel of judges including NT’s Head of Play Development Nina Steiger, playwright and screenwriter Beth Steel, playwright and performer Mojisola Adebayo and Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company.
The play will be performed in a full production by professional actors at the National Theatre and will be streamed to participating schools across the UK to watch in July, alongside rehearsed readings of seven shortlisted plays as part of the digital festival of new writing. Following the production, Mackenzie will also take part in a live streamed Q&A about his play alongside the director.
The digital festival will also showcase the work of a group of D\deaf students from Eastbury Community School’s Alternative Resource Provision. The students have taken part in playwriting workshops facilitated by Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre and have developed scenes exploring their experiences of the world. A selection of these scenes entitled Conversation Breakdown will be directed by Jenny Sealey and performed as part of the rehearsed readings.
Mackenzie Wellfare said, “I’m so excited to have won! To have my play performed is just unbelievable and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! I want to show a perspective of Autism that I believe hasn’t been truly shown in modern media, and yet which some people experience every day of their lives.”
Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre and member of the judging panel said, “Perspective has a matureness in its unpacking of the heart stuff. It’s an important play, beautifully simple in its mass of complexity.”
This year the programme was delivered digitally through workshops with professional writers, a playwriting course and the opportunity to watch NT productions for free online, as well as a pre-recorded masterclass on writing for audio with Audible, the official Audio Partner of New Views. Students wrote their own original 30-minute plays, exploring topical issues from mental health and the pandemic to politics and relationships.
Applications to take part in New Views 2021/2022 are now open. To register please visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/newviews