Outside Edge Theatre Company (OETC), the UK’s only theatre company and participatory arts charity focused on addiction, today announces Silas Parry as the winner of the inaugural Phil Fox Playwriting Award, with his magic realist script Lessons For Diving. Parry will receive a £6,000 commission and mentorship from chair of the judging panel, Tony Award-winning playwright Enda Walsh.
In its debut year, the prize was created to recognise original scripts looking at issues of addiction, by playwrights from all backgrounds and experience levels. Also on the 2020 judging panel are leading industry figures Matt Applewhite (Nick Hern Books Managing Director and Commissioning Editor), Barbara Broccoli OBE (Film Producer), Sonya Hale (OETC Associate Theatre Facilitator and Heretic Voices award-winning playwright), Indhu Rubasingham (Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre), Matt Steinberg (OETC Artistic Director) and Simon Stephens (Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright of The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time).
In recognition of the exceptional quality of submissions this year, judges also awarded Special Commendations to two finalist playwrights for their scripts: Kristian Phillips (Drift) and Jack Stanley (Boomerang). Along with Lessons for Diving, the two Special Commendation scripts will receive a package of development support and a public reading in the new year.
Silas Parry today said, “This is the best news, I’m so honoured to receive the inaugural Phil Fox Award. The play is close to my heart, and it means a huge amount that the judging panel responded to Jo and Danny’s story. Outside Edge’s unique approach to theatre makes them the perfect home for this project, and I really can’t wait to work on Lessons for Diving with them and Enda Walsh. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!”
Enda Walsh added, “I’d like to add my congratulations to Silas Parry for winning the inaugural Phil Fox Award for his play Lessons For Diving. Remarkably it’s his first play and the daring of its execution, his sensitivity and handling of these complex characters – marked Silas’ play out from a very strong shortlist. Thank you to my fellow judges. We are all so excited to have found such an original voice full of its own theatrical expression. Magic realism in Grimsby never looked so good!”
Artistic Director of Outside Edge Theatre Company, Matt Steinberg commented, “Today Outside Edge celebrates its 21st birthday. I cannot imagine a better gift for a theatre company than to receive Silas Parry’s imaginative, heartfelt Lessons For Diving. Along with the two Fox Award Special Commendation plays, I am excited to continue developing this ambitious script from such an exceptionally promising writer.
Since the start of lockdown Outside Edge has experienced a 40% increase in need from vulnerable people accessing our arts-based recovery maintenance support activities. Many of them found the Fox Award was as a positive, creative distraction that helped combat the loneliness of lockdown and their scripts progressed quite far in the competition’s assessment process. And with almost 70% of playwrights who submitted for this year’s competition identifying as being affected by addiction, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the legacy of the company’s founding Artistic Director, Phil Fox. Thank you again to all the writers from across the country who shared their stories with us.”