Manchester-based theatre company Box of Tricks and Sky Studios’ Innovation Hub, based in Leeds, have teamed up to announce the launch of the inaugural Screen/Play Award, a ground-breaking initiative to unearth exceptional writers from the North of England.
Focussed on talent from communities currently underrepresented on stage and screen, the Screen/Play Award will offer two writers, with no TV writing experience, a bursary to not only write a new play for Box of Tricks but to open doors to the world of screenwriting by forging a development partnership with Sky Studios throughout 2021.
With an aim to increase representation and opportunity, both now and in the future, the Screen/Play Award is open to Northern writers, aged over 18, with no professional TV experience from the following communities: D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers, LGBTQ+ writers, writers of colour, first generation migrant writers and writers from a low socioeconomic background.
At a time when the creative industry faces unprecedented challenges and stands to lose a wealth of talent due to the impact of COVID-19, the Screen/Play Award shines a light on voices that need to be heard and stories that need to be told.
Box of Tricks and Sky Studios are seeking stories with the scope and ambition to be realised on both stage and screen, stories that embrace the infinite imaginative possibilities of each medium and reflect the world in which we live.
Applicants for this new award will be asked to submit a sample of their writing along with a 500-word pitch about how they envisage developing their story into a both a play and a short screenplay. Each submission will be read by a diverse pool of readers representative of the breadth of stories the Award aims to recognise.
Shortlisted writers will be announced in December and five finalists will meet an industry panel to pitch their ideas in January 2021. Following these interviews, the panel will select two writers to develop their ideas and write their scripts with support from Box of Tricks and Sky Studios throughout 2021.
The Screen/Play Award industry panel includes actor Mina Anwar (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Crucible Theatre and West End), Chris Bush (UK Theatre Award-winning playwright), actor and advocate for disability on screen/stage Melissa Johns (Life, I Hate Suzie, Coronation Street), David Judge (actor and writer – Box of Tricks’ SparkPlug, finalist for Alfred Fagon Award for Best New Play of the Year 2017), Donna Metcalfe (Script Executive, Sky Studios), Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder (Joint Artistic Director, Box of Tricks) and Temi Wilkey (actor and writer - 2020 Stage Debut Award, The High Table).
Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder and Adam Quayle, Joint Artistic Directors, Box of Tricks, said: “Box of Tricks is hugely excited to partner with Sky Studios to launch our inaugural Screen/Play Award for exceptional Northern talent. Following the launch of our PlayMakers Network at the height of lockdown - for Northern playwrights to connect, collaborate and create - we are delighted to share this game-changing opportunity for two writers. With so much uncertainty still ahead, we face the very real prospect of losing a generation of talent, so it is vital that we seize every opportunity to support, nurture and promote new voices in the North - especially those whose stories are too seldom heard on our stages or seen on our screens. It's time to make a change for the better.”
Vicky Wharton and Donna Metcalfe of Sky Studios’ Innovation Hub in Leeds said: “The aim of Sky Studios Innovation Hub is to support creative risk from ambitious, diverse and emerging talent, an ethos Box of Tricks shares. It is no coincidence that several of their alumni are now working on Sky Studios productions. Therefore, we are thrilled to be forming a creative partnership, to unearth, nurture and develop new writing voices of the future.”
David Judge, Writer, actor and Screen/Play panellist said: "Box of Tricks have well and truly opened the door for me as a playwright, not in a ‘welcome to the industry’ way, but in a ‘welcome to yourself’ way. They were able to identify and nurture my ‘voice’ in a non-intimidating and collaborative environment. The work we have created has directly led to me working with Sky Studios, and again I cannot rave enough about the freedom and support I have received on this journey so far. I am SO gutted not to be able to apply for this award, as it is going to be such an exciting, creative and rewarding opportunity for those involved.”
The submission window opens on Monday 19 October and the deadline for all applications is 5pm on Friday 6 November 2020. Submissions made outside this window will not be considered.
Further details about the Screen/Play Award are available at www.boxoftrickstheatre.co.uk/screenplay. Interested writers are advised to join Box of Tricks’ PlayMakers Network via the website or on Facebook for up-to-date information and additional content.
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About Box of Tricks
Based in Manchester, Box of Tricks makes plays. They champion playwrights and empower them to tell the stories they want to tell, going on a journey to uncover new plays that reflect the world in which we live today. Box of Tricks creates heartfelt theatre that resonates, inspires, and entertains.
New plays are the lifeblood of theatre and playwrights its beating heart. Box of Tricks nurtures the next generation through their year-long PlayBox attachments for early-career playwrights. They commission, develop and produce bold new theatre from the most exciting voices through their New Tricks commissioning programme. Most recently, they encourage Northern playwrights to connect, collaborate and create through their PlayMakers Network launched at the height of lockdown.
Box of Tricks are the play makers. Every story told. Every voice heard.
Recent productions include the award-winning Narvik (UK Theatre Award for Best New Play), SparkPlug (finalist for Alfred Fagon Best New Play of the Year), Plastic Figurines, Under Three Moons and most recently The Last Quiz Night on Earth.
About Sky Studios
Based out of Leeds, Sky Studios' Innovation Hub focusses on the development of talent, scripted partnerships and new content experiences. The Innovation Hub builds on Sky’s existing track-record of finding and encouraging fresh, diverse talent to create new, original drama, comedy and scripted ideas for Sky and its customers. The Hub also explores the interplay between innovative technology and storytelling to bring viewers new entertainment experiences.
Sky Studios brings to screen unique stories from the very best talent in Europe.
We develop, produce and fund original drama, comedy and documentary for Sky’s 24m customers and beyond. Building on the success of critically-acclaimed Sky originals including Emmy-winning Chernobyl, Bafta-winning Patrick Melrose and international hits Babylon Berlin and Riviera, Sky Studios is the new creative home of Sky originals, such as The Third Day with Jude Law, ZeroZeroZero from the makers of Gomorrah and The New Pope directed by Academy Award-winning director Paolo Sorrentino.
We’re an agile Studio, seeking out the best untold stories from new voices while working in creative partnership with today’s best writers, producers and on-screen talent to bring viewers stories they wouldn’t find anywhere else.
With commissioning talent and production capability across the UK, Germany and Italy, we understand local tastes across Europe better than anyone else and have plans to more than double our investment in original content by 2024, fully supported and backed by Comcast NBC Universal.
We’re also developing a new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which is expected to lead to the creation of over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in UK creative sector in the first five years alone.
Sky Studios invests in the cultural economy and global production sector with equity stakes in several production companies in the UK and the US, including Great British Bake-Off creator Love Productions, and the premiere reality crime producer in the US, Jupiter Entertainment, creator of long-running hit Snapped. Sky Studios has invested in high quality factual specialists Blast Films and True North Productions; entertainment and format expert Znak & Co (US & UK); natural history producer True to Nature; drama producers The Lighthouse and Longboat Pictures; and growth businesses Sugar Films, Chrysalis Vision, and Talos Films (US).
Sky Studios launched in June 2019. The senior leadership team is Chief Executive Officer Gary Davey, Chief Content Officer Jane Millichip, Chief Operating Officer Caroline Cooper, Director of Drama UK Cameron Roach, Director of Comedy UK Jon Mountague, Director Original Production Sky Italia Nils Hartmann, and Director Original Productions Sky Deutschland Marcus Ammon.