Danusia Samal wins our 2018 International Playwriting Award

We are so thrilled to announce that actor, writer and singer Danusia Samal is the winner of the 2018 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award. She will receive £6,000 and her winning script, Out of Sorts, will have a guaranteed production on our stage in 2019.

Danusia’s play was chosen out of 2,055 scripts sent in from 49 countries read and shortlisted by the 503 Readers and team. Five extraordinary finalists were then sent to a panel chaired by Erica Whyman (Chair of Theatre503 and Deputy Artistic Director, RSC) and included Lyn Gardner, Stephen Beresford, Abigail Gonda, Chinonyerem Odimba, Roy Williams, Alice Birch and Lisa Spirling.

The other finalists were Mathilde Dratwa, Gillian Greer, Joel MacCormack and Philana Imade Omorotionmwan

Erica Whyman said: “From a very fine shortlist of impressively urgent and inventive plays, Out of Sorts touched the judges deeply. It is a delicate, intelligent, funny and profoundly revealing play that tackles one of the central questions of our time – how to be all the parts of ourselves without falling apart.”

While Danusia rightly deserves all the praise she deserves, this award is life changing for all the finalists – and by January 2019, all five of the finalists for the 2016 Award will have had their play produced, with three of them at 503.

Read all about all our finalists here…

Mathilde Dratwa | Milk and Gall

Mathilde is originally from Belgium, living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of Cambridge University and Drama Centre London. She is a Dramatist Guild Playwriting Fellow, a member of Dorset Theatre Festival’s Women Artists Writing Group and a two-time Pulizer Center grant recipient. A seasoned educator, Mathilde is a Master Teaching Artist for Roundabout Theatre Company, the New Victory, the Shakespeare Society and the School of The New York Times. She is the co-founder of Moms-in-Film, a former member of New York Foundation for the Arts’ Immigrant Artist Program and a former co-leader of the FilmShop collective.

Milk and Gall holds up a microscope to the experience of being a new mother under Trump. The personal and the political collide in this funny, surrealist play exploring the terror of the mundane; Vera is trapped in a world of diapers, breast pumps and padsicles while everyone else she knows is out marching.  A brilliantly theatrical play with bold ambition.

Gillian Greer | Meat

Gillian is a playwright and dramaturg from Dublin who has seen her work performed in The Abbey in Dublin, The Traverse in Edinburgh and all manner of London fringe venues, including Theatre503. Her debut full length play Petals was nominated for the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play in 2015 and is currently being adapted for radio. She currently works as Senior Reader at The National Theatre and Head of Theatre and Performance at VAULT Festival.

Meat explores two ex-lovers who meet for a night of food, drink and reminiscing about old times. But Max has something to tell Ronan, a revelation that will set them on a collision course like no other. As revelations and conversations about sexual assault become all the more prevalent in Irish society and beyond, two people are desperately trying to make sense of one bad night, seven years ago. Meat introduces a distinct theatrical voice with vibrant energy and a play with real teeth.

Joel MacCormack | In That Short Space

Joel is from Croydon and trained as an actor at RADA. His acting credits include work at Hampstead Theatre, The RSC, Orange Tree Theatre and Wolf Hall and Ready Player One for Film & TV. In That Short Space is his first full-length play.

In That Short Space is based on interviews and research connected to the terrifying statistic that ‘suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50’. It follows Kayleigh, whose partner Adam has killed himself 18 months prior to the action of the play. She sets about searching her memory to locate the precise moment that she lost him, hoping to clear the mystery shrouding his death. But when she discovers a life lived in secret shame, the moment seems to trace further and further back and it becomes difficult to see if she could have done anything at all. A powerful, poignant and emotional play exploring the consequences of male suicide and the people who are left behind.

Philana Imade Omorotionmwan | Before Evening Comes

Philana is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her writing frequently considers how the processes by which people are othered can often lead to our bodies feeling like prisons. A 2018-19 Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow, she has been a semi-finalist for the 2017 Relentless Award, a two-time Heideman Award finalist, and a finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship and the Playwrights Realm’s Scratchpad Series. Philana earned a BA in English at Stanford University and completed an MFA in Playwriting at OU in 2018.

Before Evening Comes begins in the year 2083 and explores a time where the perceived threat young boys of colour pose has finally been eliminated. The government mandates that once a boy turns thirteen, his right leg is to be amputated just above the knee. Time begins with young Totome excited to meet “the butcher” (James) and to finally become a man. Totome’s mother Mary, hopes his talent for tap dancing will allow him to stay whole. Time rewinds and fast-forwards as Mary does all she can to protect Totome and her other sons from a society that would cut them down before they’ve fully grown. Before Evening Comes is a terrifying allegory for a devastating future that is painfully rooted in the past and the present.

Danusia Samal | Out of Sorts

Danusia is an actress, writer and singer from London who spent part of her childhood in the Middle East. She trained at the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Central School of Speech and Drama. In 2018, Danusia wrote and performed Busking It, a gig theatre piece inspired by her 10 years as a London busker. Busking It originated at the RSC Making Mischief Festival and was later programmed at Soho Theatre, Pleasance Edinburgh, HighTide, and Shoreditch Town Hall. Danusia is an alumnus of BBC’s London Voices, Tamasha Playwrights, and Soho Theatre’s Writer’s Lab. Danusia works as a drama facilitator with young people, refugees and the elderly and is passionate about writing a wide range of voices and telling the stories often unseen onstage.

Out of Sorts Zara has spent her life being two people, and neither of them seem to be good enough. Living in two different worlds and being pulled in different directions she is losing her way. When her parents intervene to ‘fix things’, she is forced to confront her prejudice, and the charade begins to unravel. Over a family dinner and a boozy party in her flat, she finally tells the truth and works out what kind of person she might just be. Out of Sorts is a rich, funny, layered and beautifully characterised comic drama examining the conflicts that arise for the children of refugee migrants raised in the UK within two very different cultures.

The Theatre503 Playwriting award is made possible by the long term support of Carne Trust. We are also grateful to Nick Hern Books who are returning as Publishing Partners and Award Ceremony Sponsors for the third time.