Emerging playwright Roxy Cook was announced as the winner of the 2023 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award for her first play A Woman Walks Into a Bank. Roxy accepted the Award from Erica Whyman, Chair of the Award Judging Panel at an event taking place in the shell of the 503Studio at Nine Elms, which will become a world-class centre for debut playwrights. The event included a rehearsed reading of an excerpt of the winning play.
With her play selected from 1,466 submissions from 49 countries, Roxy receives The Carne Prize of £6,000 which includes the staging of a world premiere production at Theatre503 after a year’s support and development, and publication of her play by Samuel French Ltd, a Concord Theatricals Company.
Set in Moscow in the afterglow of the 2018 World Cup, A Woman Walks Into A Bank follows an old woman who is living with dementia as she walks into a bank looking for help, only to be conned into taking out one of Moscow’s notoriously dodgy loans… with only her cat to bear witness. Inspired by the experiences of Roxy’s relatives and told in the style of the fairytales she was told as a child, A Woman Walks Into a Bank is a darkly comic play about the social apathy tearing Russia apart from the inside out.
On behalf of the Judging Panel, Lisa Spirling (Artistic Director) said: ‘This was an outstanding collection of plays that the judges felt took incredible courage to write, demonstrated remarkable skill, placed centre-stage people and places we haven’t seen before, and start conversations we are afraid to have. A Woman Walks Into Bank exemplifies this. It exudes a level of confidence and boldness rare in a debut play, with a theatricality that suits the chaos of the world it depicts. We can’t wait for its production on Theatre503’s stage and to watch whatever Roxy Cook does next.’
Roxy is a writer, director and dramaturg working across theatre and TV. After 5 years directing new writing (Associate Director on Olivier award winning Rotterdam at Theatre503, Assistant Director on Describe the Night and The Majority, Director on Happy to Help), she began writing in 2019. A Woman Walks Into a Bank is her first play and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting (2021) and longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize and Verity Bargate Award (2022). Alongside writing, Roxy currently works as a Development Executive at Paper Entertainment and Script Editor at Brock Media and Ch4’s screenwriting course.
Five outstanding new writers from the UK, US and Eastern Europe are the finalists for the 2023 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award. Olga Braga, Georgia Bruce, Roxy Cook, Charlotte Cromie, and Nia Akilah Robinson’s plays were chosen from 1,466 scripts sent in from 49 countries.
The finalists have been selected by a panel chaired by Erica Whyman (RSC Acting Artistic Director / Theatre503 Chair) with Alice Birch, Jon Brittain, Diane Borger, Kyo Choi, Iman Qureshi, Winsome Pinnock and Roy Williams.
Erica Whyman, Chair of Judging Panel:
“This was an outstanding collection of plays that the judges felt took incredible courage to write, and demonstrated remarkable skill. They all start conversations that we are afraid to have, evoke ideas, people and places who have not before been centre stage and clearly illustrate the connection between the stories we tell and the world we are trying to navigate. These five phenomenal finalists have given us plays that are a call to action, but their boldness of form and playful theatricality ensure they are also plays that entertain, that express the absurdity of life, offering a wry smile or outright laughter at the situations their characters find themselves in. They are without doubt plays for right now that may very well help guide us to the future. The judges were thrilled by the talent and energy of these important new voices”
The Great Privation: How to flip ten cents into a dollar by Nia Akilah Robinson
Nia Akilah Robinson (she/her) is a playwright and actor from Harlem, USA. She is a 2022-2023 Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at The Juilliard School.
The Great Privation: How to flip ten cents into a dollar is about the atrocity of scientific advancements direct relationship to medical students, professors, college janitors, and grave robbers who stole cadavers (corpses) from a Black established church graveyard during the colder months of the eighteenth century…What happens to the twenty-first century Philadelphians around that same unmarked graveyard at night?
Return to Sender by Olga Braga
Olga Braga (she/her) is Ukrainian living in Britain.
Return to Sender is set in Modern Day Ukraine (or anywhere) and is an impassioned plea for empathy and understanding from our shared, flawed humanity. Written from lived experience, it explores what happens when an ‘us vs. them’ mentality escalates leading to the ultimate breakdown of diplomacy – war.
Time, like the Sea by Georgia Bruce
Georgia Bruce (they/them) has written and performed live comedy, co-written for film, and worked as an actor.
Time, like the Sea is a story that explores the relationship between two generations amid changing times. Linda (she/her) is a butch lesbian separatist who, when confronted with her grandchild, Ky (they/them), is forced to choose between the ideals she sacrificed so much for or yield to change with the guidance of her grandchild.
A Woman Walks Into a Bank by Roxy Cook
Roxy Cook (she/her) is a London based writer-director working in theatre and TV. A Woman Walks Into a Bank is her first play.
Set in Moscow in the afterglow of the 2018 World Cup, it follows an old woman and dementia sufferer as she walks into a bank looking for help, only to be conned into taking out one of Moscow’s notoriously dodgy loans… with only her cat to bear witness. Inspired by the experiences of Roxy’s relatives and told in the style of the fairytales she was told as a child, A Woman Walks Into a Bank is a darkly comic play about the social apathy tearing Russia apart from the inside out.
Mouse by Charlotte Cromie
Charlotte Cromie (she/her) is based in Camden. She was a member of BBC Studios Writer’s Academy 2021.
Mouse is about a couple who find their business turning a massive profit – and how a dead mouse on the floor of their new mansion triggers an all-consuming spiral of guilt, one culpability at a time.
The Theatre503 International Playwriting Award is made possible by the generous support of Philip and Chris Carne and Samuel French Ltd., a Concord Theatricals Company.