Back in the summer, at the height of lockdown, it became apparent that Covid-19 was going to have a long-term impact on the industry with freelance artists most at risk - especially those from underrepresented communities. Faced with the very real prospect of losing a generation of talent, we asked ourselves how we could best support Northern writers amid all the chaos and uncertainty sowed by the unfolding crisis. In June, we approached the brilliant Vicky Wharton - Executive Producer, Sky Studios - about supporting a new commission. Vicky went further and proposed we champion not just one but two Northern writers to develop a brand new idea with support from Box of Tricks and Sky Studios throughout 2021. A partnership was forged and Screen/Play was born.
Six months on, we're delighted to unveil the Shortlist of 15 writers for our inaugural Screen/Play Award in partnership with Sky Studios. Each of these writers has a voice that needs to be heard and a story that needs to be told. Each of these writers has an original vision all too seldom seen or heard on stage or screen. Each of these writers would be worthy winners.
Meet our Shortlist of 15 writers...
We'll be announcing the 5 finalists in early January. Those five writers will meet with our Industry Panel at the end of the month to discuss their pitch and creative vision. Two winners will then be awarded a bursary of £10,250 each to develop their idea into a new play and a short screenplay throughout 2021. Irrespective of whether our shortlisted writers progress to the final 5 - or indeed are ultimately announced as one of our two bursary winners - we will be supporting them through exclusive, tailored professional development including workshops and masterclasses with inspirational industry professionals next year.
Thank you to everyone who has shared their story with us. We know what it takes to make your voice heard. It has been a privilege to read so many brilliant ideas - to watch creative sparks fly during these dark days. It has been so difficult to narrow 341 submissions down to a Longlist of 64 pitches and now a Shortlist of 15 writers with so much talent and creative vibrancy here in the North. Screen/Play has already shone a light on incredible Northern writers with urgent stories to tell. The truth is we can't support them all through Screen/Play. However, we look forward to continuing our relationship through our PlayMakers Network and future programmes, events and opportunities.
We look forward to announcing the finalists in the New Year. Until then, have a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas! Here's hoping 2021 will be a year full of creative magic and electric stories from the electric North.
Adam Quayle & Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder
Joint Artistic Directors, Box of Tricks