Tife Kusoro has been announced as the recipient of the 54th George Devine Award for her debut full length play G. Kusoro has been awarded the £15,000 prize to pen her next piece of theatre. Formed in 1966 in memory of the Royal Court’s founding Artistic Director George Devine, the Award is recognised as one of the most prestigious in new writing.
Kusoro said that winning the Award has given her a ‘much-needed boost of hope and self-belief’.
G is the story of three black boys trying to avoid trouble and get through school amidst the looming threat of Baitface the Gullyman. Urban legend has it that Baitface steals the faces and lives of Black Boys. When the spirit is triggered and their lives, identities and friendships begin to disintegrate, the boys must question what it really means to be seen.
Tife is a Nigerian-British writer and performer. Her work has previously been shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon award, Verity Bargate award and the Women’s Prize for Playwriting.
Essex playwright Ava Pickett was also recognised with a special commendation for her play 1536, about three working women set against the backdrop of the execution of Anne Boleyn.
Pickett was part of the Almeida Genesis Emerging Playwright’s programme for 2022, was the resident Playwright at the Mercury Theatre 2020 and also writes for screen.
The scripts are, for both playwrights, debut full-length works.
The 2023 judging panel consisted of: Justin Audibert, Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre; musician, playwright, composer and actor Johnny Flynn; theatre director Nimmo Ismail, actor and director Rebekah Murrell, playwright and screenwriter Nick Payne and Roxana Silbert, Artistic Associate at Theatre Royal Stratford East and former Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre.
Commenting on the panel’s decision, Director Roxana Silbert said:
‘All the writers on this year’s shortlist inspired us with their imagination, theatricality and skill. They encompassed an extraordinary range of genres and interests and what they shared was an outstanding command of language, a brilliant theatrical ambition and deep passion for their stories.
This year’s winner of the 2023 George Devine Award, G, captivated every member of the panel. Tife Kusoro is a genuinely unique voice. Simultaneously epic and personal, G is a bold, visceral play which tackles a difficult story in a theatrical style that is enthralling and inhabited with beguiling characters.
The panel is also delighted to award a special commendation to 1536 by Ava Pickett for its inventiveness, playfulness and savage undercurrent.
It was a privilege to spend time with all the plays and it has invigorated our excitement for the future of new work in the UK.’
Commenting on receiving the Award, Kusoro said:
‘I’m so grateful to be receiving the George Devine Award. I’ve put so much work and love into this play over the past few years and it means so much to win this award at this time in my life. I feel honoured to have been shortlisted alongside such great writers and the award has given me a much-needed boost of hope and self-belief that will help me to keep writing.’