Asa Haynes, Joe Kerridge, Melis Aker, Rachel-Mae Brady and Shona Bukola Babayemi are announced as the 503Five, Theatre503’s pioneering programme for early career playwrights. Established in 2009, the 503Five is a scheme for UK-based writers who have developed their craft to a high standard but are not yet professionally produced.
Chosen from 400 applicants, the 503Five each receive a £2,000 seed commission to write their full-length professional debut, as well as creative support from Theatre503 over 18 months. The 503Five is made possible through the support of the Philip Carne MBE and Christine Carne, and The Orseis Trust.
Previous 503Five commissions include Yasmin Joseph’s award-winning J’Ouvert, which transferred to the West End, won the James Tait Black Prize 2020, and was screened by BBC Arts in 2021; Ross Willis’ Wolfie – winner of the 2020 Writers’ Guild Award for Best New Play; and the Olivier Award-winning Rotterdam by Jon Brittain. The 503Five has yielded two Evening Standard Award winners, an Olivier Award winner, and a BAFTA nominee. To date it has launched 30 playwrights who are now writing for a wide range of stage and screen productions.
Zak Zarashan’s 503Five commission The Boys are Kissing, produced in January 2023, was a finalist for Best Writer at The Stage Debut Awards, Most Promising New Playwright at the Offies, and Best New Writing at the London Pub Theatre Magazine Awards.
On the impact and importance of the 503Five, Zak Zarafshan says: “The 503Five has been the highlight of my writing career. Theatre503’s commitment to championing new artists, voices and stories is second to none. It is a truly unique and career-defining opportunity, where you are welcomed into a family and have your wildest ambitions encouraged by a team whose generosity is boundless.”
Steve Harper, Theatre503’s Literary Manager says: “We are excited to see our new 503Five build upon the impeccable level set by the alumni of the scheme. In terms of our new writers’ unique voices and diverse forms, they promise to enrich and challenge how we work as a theatre, and through their commissioned plays offer us global stories that dive deep into what it is to be human in the 21st century.”