Victoria Wood comedy playwriting prize in Birmingham

Published: 19 May 2023
Reporter: Steve Orme

Celebrating: Birmingham Rep artistic director Sean Foley Credit: Kris Askey
Bhangin’ It being performed at La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego

On what would have been Victoria Wood’s 70th birthday, Birmingham Rep has announced the creation of “the first major playwriting prize dedicated to the art of comedy”.

The Victoria Wood Playwriting Prize for Comedy in partnership with the Victoria Wood Foundation is the brainchild of the Rep’s artistic director Sean Foley, who is renowned for writing and directing comedies.

Foley said, “to have a new, major playwriting prize in our industry is cause for celebration itself—never has the need for supporting new plays been greater—but to have this prize dedicated to the art of comedy, perhaps the most difficult genre of all, is ground-breaking.

“This will be the first major playwriting prize for narrative stage comedy in the world and will be open to all. The Rep is proud that the home of the prize is where Victoria Wood went to university to study drama.”

The winner will receive £25,000, £10,000 of which will be the play commission. Submissions will be accepted from September 2023 and the winner will be announced in spring 2024. Rules and regulations will be on the Birmingham Rep web site in due course.

The Rep has also announced the UK première of Bhangra Nation—A New Musical. This “powerful and pulsating new show” about competitive Bhangra dancing will run at the Rep from Thursday 1 February until Saturday 9 March 2024.

With a book by Mike Lew and Rehanna Lew Mirza and music and lyrics by Sam Willmot, this “ambitious and exhilarating” musical will be directed by Stafford Arima and choreographed by Rujuta Vaidya. It premièred in 2022 at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego under the title Bhangin’ It.

Foley added, "to be partnering with Bhangra Nation’s world-class creative team and co-producing this new musical with Mara Isaacs and Tom Kirdahy in the city that is the home of modern Bhangra is a thrill for everyone at the Rep.”

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