The 17th annual Meyer-Whitworth Award was presented at the National Theatre last night (30 October 2008) to Hassan Abdulrazzak (pictured) for his play Baghdad Wedding, which ran at the Soho Theatre from 28 June to 21 July 2007.

The Meyer-Whitworth award was set up to help further the careers of UK playwrights who are not yet established, supported by the Royal National Theatre Foundation through an annual prize of £10,000. The award is also intended to “draw to public attention the importance of writers in contemporary theatre”.

Judges for this year’s award included veteran director Sir Richard Eyre and actress/producer Thelma Holt. Eyre said that the winning play Baghdad Wedding was “an outstanding entry”, praising it for being “technically ambitious, thought-provoking and touching.”

Reacting to news of the award, winning writer Hassan Abdulrazzak said: “In Baghdad Wedding, I wanted to collapse the distance between London and Baghdad by telling a story that focused on Iraqi-Brits shaped by both cities … All playwrights (particularly first timers) hope that their play succeeds but receiving the Meyer-Whitworth award exceeds all my previous expectations. I’m very grateful to the judges for granting me the award which will help me to write the next play (as well as to buy a decent boiler).”

It\'s been a successful year for Iraqi-born Abdulrazzak - Baghdad Wedding won the Royal Court George Devine award for new writing back in June, which also came with a prize of £10,000 (See News, 12 Jun 2008).

Previous winners of the Meyer-Whitworth award include Philip Ridley (The Fastest Clock in the Universe), Diane Samuels (Kindertransport), David Harrower (Kill the Old, Torture their Young), Conor McPherson (This Lime Tree Bower), Dennis Kelly (Osama The Hero), Owen McCafferty (Scenes from the Big Picture) and Morna Pearson (Distracted).

- by Theo Bosanquet