James Tait Black Prize for Drama 2013

I’m delighted to reveal that I’ve been shortlisted for the first James Tait Black Prize for drama for my performance text In Water I’m Weightless.

The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are Britain’s oldest literary awards, and are awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh for the best work of fiction and the best biography published in the previous year. The Prizes have been extended this year to include a new category for drama, in partnership with National Theatre of Scotland.

Judges will award the accolade to a play which displays an original voice in theatre and one that they feel has made a significant and unique contribution to the art form.’

Founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, the prizes commemorate her husband’s love of good books. Looking at the winners of those first fiction awards in the early decades of the Twentieth Century my heart beat a little faster: DH Lawrence, EM Forster, Graham Greene, Radcliffe Hall, with more contemporary winners including Zadie Smith, AS Byatt, Ian McEwan and Sebastian Barry. As to who will win this first Prize for drama: the results will be announced in August at the Edinburgh Fringe, with a rehearsed reading of the winning script by National theatre Scotland.

The prize is open to any new work by playwrights from any country, and at any stage in their career and will include work produced over the past two years, but will be annual hereafter. The judges are post-graduate students and staff of the University’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures and representatives from the National Theatre of Scotland.

‘We are very pleased to be forging a long-term partnership with the University of Edinburgh and to be involved in the inauguration of the James Tait Black Award for Drama, with its close associations to the prestigious literary prizes. It is an honour to create a new award for playwrights and we look forward to rewarding truly original voices in world theatre for years to come.’

George Aza-Selinger. Literary Manager, National Theatre of Scotland

‘I am delighted that the University is working with the National Theatre of Scotland to create this new James Tait Black Prize for Drama. The James Tait Black Prizes have a very long history of celebrating the work of great novelists and biographers and it is wonderful that we can now extend this to recognise original and innovative drama.’

Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea. Principal, The University of Edinburgh.

The shortlist was announced in today’s Scottish Herald  where Phil Miller, the arts correspondent wrote:

Five plays compete for £10,000 prize

The UK’s oldest literary awards have turned their attention to drama, with a new £10,000 prize for the best play.

Five, chosen from more than 180 plays from around the world, have been shortlisted for the first James Tait Black Prize for Drama, based at Edinburgh University.

These include a production about Bradley Manning, the US soldier on trial for allegedly leaking military secrets and a work featuring monologues by deaf and disabled performers.

The judging panel includes representatives from Edinburgh University, National Theatre of Scotland and Edinburgh’s Traverse, where the successful work will be read on August 5.

Panel member Nicola McCartney, playwright and lecturer, said: “We are thrilled by the response to the first year of our drama prize. The James Tait Black Awards are renowned for showcasing the best of literature and we are delighted to celebrate the work of playwrights this year. The shortlisted plays are of an incredibly high calibre.”

The plays are In Water I’m Weightless, by Kaite O’Reilly, produced by National Theatre Wales; The Hundred Flowers Project, by Christopher Chen, originally produced with Crowded Fire Theatre and Playwrights Foundation of San Francisco; The Effect, by Lucy Prebble, co-produced by Headlong and the National Theatre in London; Foxfinder, by Dawn King, first presented at Finborough Theatre, London; and The Radicalisation Of Bradley Manning, by Tim Price, originally produced by National Theatre Wales.

For details of this years shortlist of fiction and biography, including Salman Rushdie, Jenni Fagan and Alan Warner, go to:

3 responses to “James Tait Black Prize for Drama 2013

  1. I wish you every bit of Good Luck Kaite though I’m sure you won’t need luck. I’ll be flying The Flag for Wales anyway. And if you don’t win, well what an boost to be able to list the play as a finalist in such a prestigious competition.
    Hugs xx

    • My feeling exactly! I am honoured to have made it to the last five and that is of great satisfaction, especially as the work itself is disability arts and culture – perspectives and opinions seldom given precedence or value in the so-called ‘mainstream’. And then the delight of two of the five coming through NTW and writers born or living in Wales!
      It is so kind of you to be so generous and supportive – thank you. It’s how we slowly build the threads and connections that create a network and supportive community. Diolch! x

  2. Pingback: James Tait Black Prizes 2013: Shortlist | literarytaco

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