Celebrating a raft of major awards for playwrights at the Orange Tree Theatre

2 February 2018

The Critics’ Circle Award, Channel 4 Playwrights Scheme, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The Sonia Friedman Production Award, Evening Standard Theatre Award and Off West End Awards and nominations have all been given to playwrights working at the Orange Tree.

  • This week Branden Jacobs-Jenkins won the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright for An Octoroon and Gloria. He also won the Charles Wintour Award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for An Octoroon which had its European premiere at the Orange Tree in June 2017. It transfers to the National Theatre in June 2018. In June 2018 we introduce the work of American writer Emily Schwend to London with the European premiere of Utility, which won the Yale Drama Prize.


  • Sarah McDonald Hughes won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Play for Young Audiences for How To Be A Kid, Elinor Cook was named a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Out Of Love and Brad Birch’s Black Mountain has been nominated for the Wales Theatre Award for Best New Play in the English Language. Co-productions with Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd, the three plays are currently playing in repertoire at the Orange Tree until 3 March. Directed by James Grieve, they have been playing in Roundabout across the UK including a critically-acclaimed run at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.


  • Sonali Bhattacharyya has been announced as one of the winners of the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme. She was a member of the Orange Tree Writers Collective 2016-17 and had her play Deepa the Saint workshopped by the OT. The Scheme celebrates and supports emerging British writing talent. The initiative (formerly the Pearson Playwrights’ Scheme) awards five bursaries a year to new theatre writers and has been supported by Channel 4 since 2013. Bhattacharyya’s bursary is supported by The Peggy Ramsay Foundation.


  • The Sonia Friedman Productions Award (formerly the Catherine Johnson Best Play Award), given to the writer of the best play written by one of the previous year’s bursary recipients from the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme, has been jointly awarded to Melissa Bubnic for her play Monkey Work, Baboon Chop, developed whilst on attachment to the OT. 


  • The OT’s Writers Collective run by Literary Associate Guy Jones has featured numerous emerging writers, including Joe White whose debut play Mayfly will have its world premiere at the OT in April 2018, as well as Chris Bush, who is under commission. The 2018 Writers Collective playwrights will be announced soon. 


  • The Orange Tree also has three out of the four nominations for Best New Play at the Off West End Awards (Offies) for An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Winter Solstice by Roland Schimmelpfennig (translated by David Tushingham, co-production with Actors Touring Company) and The End of Hope by David Ireland (co-production with Soho Theatre). 

Paul Miller comments: “I am hugely excited and proud that the work of these amazing writers is being recognised by so many different award nominations. As a theatre where the best emerging talent rubs shoulders with great writing from our shared dramatic history, the OT aims to be at the centre of the contemporary theatre conversation. We are a writer’s theatre: new work is our lifeblood.”

Sir Richard Eyre comments on the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme: “The standard of writing put forward by Artistic Directors this year was particularly strong – and I was delighted not only by the skill shown by each of our winners, but also their willingness to tackle big contemporary questions around race and class. This award has a tremendous pedigree in identifying the best new British writers.”

Writer development at the OT in 2016/17 was supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.

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