It’s no secret that we have a soft spot for Theatre503. The main reason of course being that they consistently put on new and challenging plays. But that’s not the only reason. We also love and admire how this wonderful little theatre, situated above a pub a short walk from Clapham Junction, can attract an international audience for it’s biennial awards.
This year saw 1,719 entries submitted, which is impressive enough, but we are even more in awe that those entries come from 45 different countries. Somehow these were wittled down to five finalists, and at the award ceremony, held for obvious reasons online this year, the winner was announced.
So it’s a massive congrulations from Everything Theatre to Pravin Wilkins for his play Moreno. As with previous winners, as well as a prize of £6,000, his play will be produced and performed at Theatre503. Something to look forward to in 2021 we’re sure.
The judging panel Chair Erica Whyman said of the award and its winner “I am thrilled to be able to present Pravin with the fourth biennial Theatre503 International Playwriting Award. Selecting a winner out of five exceptional early career playwrights is always a challenge, and this year was no exception given the quality of all our finalists. However, there was something about Pravin’s play that spoke especially vividly and courageously to the panel of the times we are all navigating. It also holds true to 503 looking for stories we haven’t heard before told in a way we are yet to see on our stage.”
Pravin Wilkins is a playwright, poet, and fiction writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose works typically deal with race and class struggle – and the many intersections between. He receives a £6,000 prize and a guaranteed production of his play Moreno, which will be published by Samuel French Ltd., a Concord Theatricals company.
Moreno is set in the world of American football, shaken by Colin Kaepernick’s monumental decision to take a knee to protest police brutality against Black people. As he struggles to overcome an injury and prove he still has what it takes, star player Luis Moreno must decide whether to take a risk and make a stand. Through his story, the play questions if the Black Lives Matter movement even has room for him and the issues he wants to bring to the table.
Of course, whilst Pravin has taken the main prize, we’re sure we’ll be seeing more of the other finalists. Many of the previous year’s award shortlisted plays have gone on to be performed at Theatre503, and we’re sure this year will be no exception. Those other finalists were:
AYAD ANDREWS – Terp
Ayad Andrews was born in Baghdad, Iraq until his family fled to the UK due to threats from the then-ruling Ba’ath Party regime in the 1970s. Terp is set in 2003 Iraq at the time of the second Gulf War, where a young student, Tawfeeq, becomes an interpreter (or terp) for the Coalition forces.
GINA STEVENSEN – Book of Esther
Gina Stevenson is another entry from America. Book of Esther sees 17 year old Esther questioning the confines of her Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish community.
SAFAA BENSON-EFFIOM – Til Death Do Us Part
Safaa Benson-Effiom is from London, and has had work staged at venues including The Bunker, Southwark Playhouse and as part of Talawa Firsts and the RADA Festival. Til Death Do Us Part sees Daniel and Sylvia prepare for the worst day of their lives, something that finally forces into confrontation with the past.
ZOE ASHFORD COOPER – for unknown reasons
Zoe Ashford Cooper is another international entrance, this time from Australia. for unknown reasons is an epic play about love and an unexpected journey across the globe set over five months.
We’ll look forward to seeing these plays in the next year.