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Playwrights of tomorrow

Published: 9 June 2019
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Isabel Hague's play If Not Now, When? is this year's winner of the National Theatre New Views playwriting competition.

A panel of judges including playwright Chris Bush and the NT's associate director Lyndsey Turner, senior dramaturg Nina Steiger and Connections dramaturg Ola Animashawun selected it from amongst 350 entries from 70 schools.

The annual playwriting competition is open to 14- to 19-year-olds who take part in in-school workshops with professional writers and use an online course by playwright Jemma Kennedy.

Teachers participate in professional development and partner with a professional playwright to support the students as they write their 30-minute plays.

The winning play receives a full production with a professional cast at the National Theatre with eight shortlisted plays having rehearsed readings.

Bush said, “New Views is without doubt one of the most important things the National Theatre does. It targets young people at a crucial age where they're just starting to give serious thought to where their working lives might take them. I can think of no better introduction to the theatre, or the arts in general, than to have your debut play performed at the National, and year-in year-out these writers prove they are unquestionably up to this challenge.

"Isabel Hague is already a hugely accomplished, instinctive writer. From just a few lines in, it was clear just what a gift her words would be for any actor. Her dialogue is honest, authentic and crucially very funny even when dealing with some bleak subject matter. Hers is a voice we need and one I hope to hear a lot more of."

Performances of the winning play, If Not Now, When?, and rehearsed readings of the eight shortlisted pieces will take place in the Dorfman Theatre as follows:

  • If Not Now, When?—A story of Liam and his sister Chelsey who share their worries but hide their true insecurities from each other. (1 and 2 July)
  • Behind The Mask by Ellie Wee from Guildford High School, The Wrong People by Molly Fairhead from Kesteven and Sleaford High School, Personal Statements by Emily Shurmer from Jewish Community Secondary School and Background Noise by Cerys Wrigley from Stopsley High School. (1 July)
  • Last Lap by Alice Bennett from Wolverhampton Girls' High School, To Charlie by Emilia Hitching from Bancroft’s School, Okay by Alida Charles Damtoft from Kingsdale Foundation School and The Closest Thing to Silence by Aidan Hall from Bedales School. (2 July)

To apply for New Views 2019/20, e-mail Charlie at newviews@nationaltheatre.org.uk.