December isn’t usually seen as a key month in the calendar of prizes, but two significant awards were made in the last couple of weeks. First, the novelist, playwright and memoirist Gillian Slovo was awarded the UK Golden PEN prize, given annually to ‘an accomplished writer, resident in Britain, whose body of work has had a profound impact on readers and who is held in high regard by fellow writers and the literary community.’
And, on London’s South Bank, to the National Theatre for the RNT Playwrights Award 2013, a prize designed to honour up-and-coming UK playwrights. Organised in association with the Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland, I had the great pleasure of chairing the judging panel – a fabulous group which included writer and director Topher Campbell, screenwriter and playwright Stephen Greenhorn and producer Kath Mattock. After a long and enormously good fun judging meeting, we decided on our winner – Dawn King for Foxfinder. The play is a beautifully crafted and clever parable, atmospheric and brimful with heightened emotion, both a strong ensemble piece and with four strong, individual roles. Our runners-up, so to speak, were Nayla Ahmed for Mustafa and Douglas Rintoul for Elegy. King’s new play, Ciphers, is currently on tour and will play at the Bush Theatre, London, in January/February 2014, so a chance to see her latest work.