Trio win Papatango New Writing Prize

Published: 11 July 2021
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Nkenna Akunna Credit: Tochi Hannah
Tajinder Singh Hayer
Tom Powell
Ghost Stories From An Old Country by Tajinder Singh Hayer Credit: Poster image
The Silence and The Noise by Tom Powell Credit: Poster image
Some Of Us Exist In The Future by Nkenna Akunna Credit: Poster image

This week, Papatango named the three winning playwrights for this year's New Writing Prize. They are:

  • Nkenna Akunna for Some Of Us Exist In The Future, following one woman, Chiamaka, as she navigates a new life as a queer dating immigrant in Brooklyn.
    Akunna is an Igbo playwright-performer. Her work has won The Kennedy Center's Rosa Parks Playwriting Award and Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, and the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting. She is co-director at collective Skin Deep, supporting black creatives and creatives of colour through cultural production.
  • Tom Powell for The Silence And The Noise, the story of two young people on the edge: Daize, who finds herself caught between her vulnerable mother and her friend, Ant, who attracts trouble.
    Powell's writing credits include I Dare You (Nottingham Playhouse / Curve—shortlisted for the Soho Young Writers’ Award) Little Echoes (Hope Theatre / published by Methuen / Bloomsbury) and Love Beyond the Zoo, an audio drama to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra later in the year. He has won the OTR National Radio Drama Award and the Harry Porter Prize.
  • Tajinder Singh Hayer for Ghost Stories From An Old Country, an exploration of the ties that bind us through the story of ghostly Dalvir trying to reconnect with his younger brother, Amar.
    Singh Hayer has stage writing credits that include North Country (Freedom Studios), Players, Mela (Leeds Playhouse) and In This House (Menagerie) as well as radio and television writing credits. His play People Like Me He won the BBC’s The Spin competition. He has been a writer on attachment at the Leeds Playhouse, BBC Radio Drama Manchester and the National Theatre, and currently lectures in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.

Responding to the pandemic and in a new partnership with English Touring Theatre, the three works will be produced as audio dramas and will tour the UK to be heard via listening stations, dates to be announced. The three winning playwrights will also receive £2,000 and see their plays published digitally by Nick Hern Books.

Open-entry applications are currently ongoing to select the three casts and creative teams. The deadline to apply is 27 July.

Papatango artistic director George Turvey said, “there was a point when it looked like the Papatango Prize might have to fall silent in 2021, with so many projects postponed and stages booked up with deferred shows. That instead we’ve been able, together with ETT, to rally and present the Prize in a completely new format, supporting more artists than ever before on a completely free and accessible national tour, is a joy.

"This year saw our highest ever standard of entries, and the three winning writers whose work we’re privileged to share are proof that when times are hardest, storytellers emerge to reinvent and renew. We hope everyone will listen in their local theatre, because they’ve got brilliant things to say at a time when new voices matter more than ever.”

There were 1,410 entries for this year's prize including the shortlisted Billie Collins for But The Heart Stayed Behind, Rebecca Jade Hammond for Hot Chicks, Emma Hemingford for Foreverland, Joe Ward Munrow for Home, and Rían Smith for Endless.