Theatre News

RSC announces writers selected as part of 37 Plays project

The winning entries will all receive a staged reading

37 Plays Sara Beaumont

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced the winners of its 37 Plays playwriting search.

The project, launched to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio, closed in January and attracted over 2,000 submissions.

An initial longlist of 350 plays was whittled down to a total of 71 which were then shortlisted for commendation.

The final 37 plays are by writers from across the UK, ranging in age from nine to 65. Nearly a third of those selected are by people who identified as first-time writers.

Erica Whyman, RSC acting artistic director, said: “Every one of the shortlisted plays deserves attention and a production, so the decision-making was really hard. We chose the 37 to represent the widest range of ideas, voices and stories, deliberately including plays by accomplished writers alongside plays that showed enormous promise by first-time playwrights.”

The selected writers are:

Under 11 category: Molly Sue Cartwright, Dylan Punch, Maximilian Kufuor, Edward Keppel, and Grace Hemmings-Buckler.

11 to 17 category: Felicity Williamson, Mia Lloyd, Isabella James, Jacob Thomas, and Abigail White.

Over 18 category: Amanda Wilkin, Billie Collins, Rob Thorpe-Woods, Kwame Owusu, Hayley-Rose Jarman-Norris, Joan Jackson-Callen, maatin, Samantha Robinson, Hannah Shury-Smith, Hannah Kennedy, Hannah Eggleton, Chloe Banks, Joanne Thomson, Amy Bethan Evans, Tom Murray, Lisa Parry, Rosanna Jahangard, Nancy Netherwood, Patty Kim Hamilton, Eoin McAndrew, Ruby Kitching, Errol McGlashan, Tim Wallers, Jordon Grant, Alex Oates, Catherine Dyson, and Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir.

The judging panel was chaired by Whyman and included theatre-maker Rachel Bagshaw, actor Ray Fearon, theatre critic Lyn Gardner, RSC Youth Advisory Board members Harry and Ella, author Sharna Jackson, Ian Charleson Award-winner Bally Gill, playwrights Mark Ravenhill and Juliet Gilkes Romero and actor/writer David Threlfall.

Whyman continued: “It was an honour to chair the distinguished judging panel. We were struck by a number of recurring themes, from climate crisis, to living life online, to questions of class, faith, race, war and consent.”

Each play will receive a staged reading at an RSC associate theatre and in Stratford at The Other Place, with writers receiving dramaturgical support to take their play to the next draft.

Pippa Hill, head of new work at the RSC, added: “We have plays written from the perspective of mischievous fish; a woman covered in butterflies; an emotional support dog; a dancer in the early days of motherhood; a protesting farmer’s wife tied to a solar panel; musicians in a mosque; a family in North Shields; a dreaming, drowning man; a teenager who becomes a whale; a lost Guyanese man; and a boy who suddenly finds himself at the battle of Hastings; to name just a selection of extraordinary characters that have been created by the writers of our 37 Plays.”

A full list of the 71 shortlisted play titles and writers, announced in early May, is available to view via the website.

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