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The 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting launches and confirms panel of judges

The winners will be revealed this November

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Nihal Arthanayake

Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre has confirmed the panel of judges for the 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, with actor Julie Hesmondhalgh and TV and radio presenter Nihal Arthanayake joining this year's line-up.

Hesmondhalgh commented: "I'm completely thrilled to be part of the judging panel for the Bruntwood Prize this year. I've been involved in the prize in one way or another from the start: my husband Ian Kershaw won the North West Writers prize at the first awards, I appeared in The Almighty Sometimes, the winner of The Judges Award in 2015, and have been part of the company performing at the prizegiving a couple of times. I am passionate about new writing and particularly giving opportunities to people trying to break into the profession. I love the egalitarian nature of the process: the anonymous entries, and widely diverse readership at all phases. It is an amazing opportunity for writers at all stages of their careers, and an opportunity to hear exciting new voices."

Completing the panel are director Miranda Cromwell, playwright Kimber Lee (winner of the inaugural Bruntwood Prize International Award in 2019), local exchange ambassador Farai Matekenya Nhakaniso, Bruntwood's non-executive director Kate Vokes and joint artistic director at the Royal Exchange Roy Alexander Weise.

Submissions for the 2022 prize are now open, with anonymous entries being judged from both established writers and members of the general public with no writing experience at all.

The overall winner is set to receive £16,000, while a runner-up and an international candidate will both be awarded £8,000 each. Those overseas can apply through one of the following partners: Atlantic Theatre, Australian Plays Transform, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Banff Playwrights Laboratory and Melbourne Theatre Company.

In addition this year, a new category has been announced: the North West Original New Voice Award and Residency. The winner, who must be based in the North West of England, will receive £8,000, alongside access to an additional £10,000 fund dedicated to their professional development at the Royal Exchange itself via a one year residency.

All four winners will enter into the development process with the aim of producing their respective works.

Submissions must be completed by 6 June 2022 (via www.writeaplay.co.uk), with a shortlist of 15 plays, ten from the UK and five from international writers, set to be announced on 24 October. The winners will then be revealed at a special awards ceremony at the Royal Exchange on 14 November 2022.

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