A PLAY FOR THE NATION'S YOUTH
Winner announced for A Play for the Nation’s Youth
Fiona Doyle’s play SO Gay has been announced as the winner of A Play for the Nation’s Youth.
This national competition was organised by Salisbury Playhouse, Nick Hern Books, Out of Joint, the BBC writersroom and the National Association of Youth Theatres and received more than 60 submissions.
A Play for the Nation's Youth was launched 23 November 2012 and closed on 8 February 2013. Round 1 was marked by 4 March, reducing the number of scripts from 60 to 8. Round 2 was marked by 28 March, and Round 3 by 22 April. Fiona was annoucned as the winner on 10 May 2013. Fiona is currently working with all the partners on developing her script, in September she will be starting script based workshops with Stage '65, at Salisbury Playhouse.
SO Gay follows a group of teenagers at a multi-cultural, mixed sex secondary school. Katie, Eamon, Leanne and Sarah face the battles of growing up and the challenges of difference and acceptance amongst the obstacles of their peers, parents and teachers.
The plays were read in several rounds by representatives of each partner organisation but also, crucially, by young people of the age for which the plays were written. SO Gay impressed the judges with its theatrical potential and engaging subject matter. Moreover, Fiona’s story, language and characters were ones that a company of young actors related to and wanted to explore the most.
Fiona Doyle, from Kerry, Ireland, studied Drama and Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths College and also completed the 2011/12 John Burgess Playwriting Course. She has won the £1000 seed commission and will now receive support from the partner organisations to develop the script prior to workshops and a rehearsed reading.
Doyle, 34, says “This is really unexpected. I’m totally thrilled. I’ve only been writing seriously since 2012 and this is the best thing to happen with my work since then. I am currently based in both Kerry and London so that I have time devoted to my writing. Winning A Play for the Nation’s Youth is a clear example of how this is working for me”.
The UK has a thriving network of youth theatres who often struggle to find expansive plays that both captivate and challenge. This new partnership was set up to discover a new play that could be performed by a large cast of young people and to engage an exciting playwright with the nation's young actors.
"It is rare to see a good, gritty, original play for young people, written in and about the here and now, with characters as young as those who will perform them. This lively play redresses this, and I think it will also be very enjoyable to perform. I wish it well and look forward to seeing it staged".
Max Stafford-Clark, Artistic Director of Out of Joint
Also highly commended were Urban Legend by Richard Walls, Simeon by Liz Fisher-Frank and Wilde at Heart by Jon Boustead.
Over the summer, Fiona has mostly been working on a new draft of SO Gay which has just been sent through to Victoria Briggs, Director of Stage '65 Youth Theatre, who she will be working with.
She has also had the script development meeting at BBC Writersroom with development producer Paul Ashton and, on a separate note, was recently invited to Dublin to meet with Bryan Delaney who's the New Playwrights Programme Manager at the Abbey Theatre.
Fiona says "I am really looking forward to the next stage of the development process at Salisbury Playhouse now. The practical workshop dates with Group 4 of Stage 65 Youth Theatre are confirmed and the first one takes place on the 18 September. It will be great to meet everyone involved and I'm sure the input from the young people will be invaluable when writing the next draft."
Fiona's play Abigail was recently longlisted for the 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. And all longlisted writers receive feedback on their entry from the Royal Exchange in Manchester as well as the chance to submit a subsequent draft.
Also, her short play Two Sisters has been chosen from a shortlist as one of 9 ten-minute plays for 'Little Pieces of Gold' at Southwark Playhouse on November 24 2013.