A London shop assistant has won this year’s Bruntwood prize with her first play about a young carer dealing with welfare cuts.
Wish List, by Katherine Soper, who currently works in a perfume shop on Regent Street, has been announced by former artistic director of the National Theatre, Nick Hytner, as the winner of the 10th anniversary Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015 – Europe’s biggest playwriting prize. She wins a prize of £16,000, and a residency at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, where yesterday’s award ceremony took place and the process towards production begins.
Wish List is Soper’s first play. She commented: “This is the best boost of writerly confidence I could imagine.Having someone respond well to your work, with no name or personal information factored in, is so heartening.”
Wish List tells the story of Tamsin, the sole carer for her brother Dean, whose crippling OCD leaves him housebound in a perpetual state of ritual. Now that ‘Help to Work’ has cut all his benefits, she’s taken a zero-hour contract performing packaging rituals of her own, on the clock and to a quota. If she doesn’t pack fasterwhile keeping her brother on track, she’ll lose out to the next in a long line of temps, and soon they could both lose their lifelines.
This year the judges decided to present an additional, fourth, Judges’ Award, The plays chosen are Sound of Silence by Chloe Todd Fordham, Parliament Square by James Fritz,How My Light is Spent by Alan Harris and Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver.
The Chair of Bruntwood, Michael Oglesby, said on deciding to award the extra prize: “The extraordinary strength of this year’s shortlist led us to make the unprecedented decision in our tenth year to award an extra prize to reflect the exciting ambition and unique talent that made it to the final 10.”
The competition, which runs every two years, is a partnership between the Royal Exchange Theatre and property company Bruntwood.