Playwright Shiona Morton will have her new play staged by Salisbury Playhouse after winning the inaugural Theatre Fest West Writer’s Prize. She will also receive a cash prize of £2,000.
Salisbury Playhouse is committed to producing new work from and about the South West. Through its Original Drama programme, the Playhouse supports and nurtures talented writers based in the region to bring the unique perspective of the South West to a wider national audience. Entries for the prize were welcomed from writers based in or who have a connection with the South West region. Shiona is from Devon and her work includes The Company of Wolves, an outdoor promenade piece for Burn the Curtain which was part of Salisbury Festival in 2015.
Shiona’s winning play, Hansel, is about an elderly hoarder, Edith, who is visited by her daughter, Viv, for her quarterly clean-out. Tensions rise when Viv discovers Edith’s friendship with a teenage boy sleeping rough in the woods outside Edith’s cottage.
Three plays were shortlisted for the Writer’s Prize and each received a day’s research and development and rehearsed reading with a professional company as part of Theatre Fest West in February 2017. Entries had to be full length plays of an hour or more in playing time and had to be original, unproduced and unperformed pieces of work. The deadline for entries was 3 October 2016.
Jo Newman, associate director of Salisbury Playhouse, said: “The Theatre Fest West Writer’s Prize has enabled Salisbury Playhouse to build new, meaningful relationships with writers from the region, celebrating the incredible talent in the South West and producing a brand new play as part of our Original Drama programme. Hansel is a touching, atmospheric piece which explores a really important and relevant subject. We’re really excited about introducing Shiona’s work to our audience.”
Shiona Morton said: “I am absolutely delighted to be awarded the Theatre Fest West Writer's Prize. This is a great project which offers real support to new writing in the region. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with Salisbury Playhouse and to see Hansel through to production.”
Theatre Fest West, Salisbury Playhouse’s annual celebration of work produced in the South West, ran from 10-25 February 2017 with performances at Salisbury Playhouse, Salisbury Arts Centre, The Pound in Corsham and Trowbridge Arts.