The Bruntwood Prize for playwriting launched at the Barbican Centre last night, with a panel discussion featuring Vicky Featherstone, Bola Agbaje, Benedict Nightingale, Suranne Jones, David Eldridge and Marianne Elliott.

Chaired by Dame Jenni Murray (who also chairs the competition's judging panel), the discussion ranged from the challenges facing new plays in the climate of cuts, to the unique position that playwrights hold in British theatre.

Featherstone, who's soon to succeed Dominic Cooke as artistic director of the Royal Court, provided a glimpse of her programming ethos when she said she hoped the "Sarah Kane of today" could still be produced at the Sloane Square venue. And Eldridge, whose many plays include Under the Blue Sky and Festen, gave hope to a struggling writer when he told him it had taken 15 years for the acclaimed In Basildon to make it to the stage.

The Bruntwood Prize, which is open for submissions until 3 June 2013, is the UK’s biggest playwriting competition with a total prize fund of £40,000. For more information and to enter, visit