From close to 1,500 entries, a longlist of 17 inspiring and fantastically realised voices, and a shortlist of six unique new plays, Soho Theatre announces Sam Grabiner’s Boys on the Verge of Tears as the winner of the Verity Bargate Award 2022. The production will have its world premiere at Soho Theatre in 2023.
In a men’s public toilet, characters drift in and out. A father waits for his son, kids hang around skipping school, fights break out after nights of drinking.
As bodies rub up against each other – sometimes tenderly, sometimes brutally – a story about shame, violence and vulnerability emerges. A play about what it costs to spend your life performing masculinity.
Playwright April De Angelis, member of the Verity Bargate Award 2022 judging panel, said: ‘Boys on the Verge of Tears is a thrillingly theatrical, fearless, funny, honest, heartstopping play about being a boy and becoming a man.’
Character 7’s Stephen Garrett, chair of the Verity Bargate Award 2022 judging panel, said: ‘In his scintillating, breathtakingly original, gleefully theatrical Boys on the Verge of Tears, Sam Grabiner has crafted an eerily zeitgeisty 7 ages of man. It’s a play that effortlessly switches from the laugh out loud funny to the troublingly dark. It manages to be prescient, provocative, upsetting, violent and tender without ever leaving the simplest of settings, a men’s toilet. The characters are richly drawn. The dialogue sizzles. Such a worthy winner!’
Rhianna Ilube’s Samuel Takes a Break in Male Dungeon N°5 After a Long but Generally Successful Day of Tours receives the Highly Commended Award, which recognises an exciting new artist whom Soho Theatre hopes to develop work with in the future.
This year’s award was judged by a panel of industry experts including past Soho playwrights Theresa Ikoko (Girls, 2015, Soho Theatre), James Graham (Tory Boyz, 2008, and Monster Raving Loony, 2016, Soho Theatre) and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Mum, 2021, Soho Theatre), as well as April De Angelis (Jumpy, Royal Court and West End). The award is sponsored by Character 7 and chaired by film and television producer, Character 7’s Stephen Garrett. The Award honours Verity Bargate, Soho’s co-founder who passionately championed new writing during her time at the small but hugely influential fringe theatre company, Soho Poly.
Soho Theatre’s Literary Manager Gillian Greer said: ‘It’s been an absolutely bumper year for the Verity Bargate Award, with one of our highest rates of submission ever and a shortlist of six plays we are incredibly proud of. The breadth of imagination and depth of feeling across the six shortlisted plays is stunning. We are so delighted that we will be shepherding the beautiful Boys on the Verge of Tears to our stage soon, and we hope to work with each of these incredibly talented writers in the future.’