The Royal Court Theatre celebrates 20 years of Jerwood New Playwrights this week (Monday 15 September) – a programme which supports new writers to produce plays in full productions on both its stages.
The Jerwood New Playwrights programme, funded by Jerwood Charitable Foundation, helps the Royal Court discover and support the next generation of world class playwrights. Starting with Joe Penhall’s play Some Voices in 1994, the programme has supported 60 writers and 77 plays in this time, producing a series of new plays each year by emerging writers, all of whom were in the first 10 years of their careers.
The Royal Court identifies playwrights with potential whose careers would benefit from the challenge and profile of being fully produced on stage. Previous Jerwood New Playwrights have included Sarah Kane (Blasted), Michael Wynne (The Knocky), Mark Ravenhill (Shopping and Fucking), Jez Butterworth (Mojo), Ayub Khan Din (East is East), Martin McDonagh (The Beauty Queen of Leenane), Conor McPherson (The Weir), Roy Williams (Clubland), Richard Bean (Toast), Simon Stephens (Herons), Rona Munro (Iron), Polly Stenham (That Face), Bola Agbaje (Gone Too Far!), Alexi Kaye Campbell (The Pride), Anya Reiss (Spur of the Moment), Nick Payne (Constellations) and many others.
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre said:
“The Royal Court exists to create the environment for writers to be discovered, to be inspired and encouraged and to take risks. In turn we expect that they ask the questions of the world that we live in and show us new ways of thinking and being. This has been the project since the Royal Court began in 1956 and continues to be so.
“At the Royal Court, we offer an array of developmental opportunities, such as writers groups, residencies, readings and workshops, but there is no greater learning opportunity for a playwright than having their play actually produced on stage. Jerwood fundamentally understand this, and for 20 years has put its faith in the Royal Court’s ability to discover talent and nurture new voices. The longevity of this trust and investment is totally un-paralleled, which is why this partnership has been so vital and so fruitful. All the incredible playwrights who have come through this programme and become some of today’s most important influencers on contemporary writing are testament to this.”
Shonagh Manson, Director of Jerwood Charitable Foundation said:
“We are immensely proud to mark two decades of support for powerful new writing through Jerwood New Playwrights. The Royal Court continues to harness its expertise, relationships and reach in pursuit of supporting new voices and challenging contemporary perspectives. Writers are at the heart of Jerwood New Playwrights, but we would also like to recognise and thank the wider creative teams around each production, who both benefit from and contribute to meeting the demands of bringing each piece to life. In a culture in which fast-paced change and innovation abound, it is satisfying to be involved in a programme of enduring quality which benefits greatly from the care of the talented team at the Royal Court.”