News: Popcorn Award for new play writing at the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe announce the short list

The 2020 Edinburgh Fringe may have been cancelled but 133 new plays that were scheduled to premiere this year are competing for The Popcorn Award’s £5,000 prizes for the best new writing.

The 15-strong judging 2020 committee is today revealed – and is made up of a carefully selected group of mavericks from theatre, film, TV and beyond including:
Three-time Olivier Award nominee and two-time winner Ruth Wilson
Norwegian singing sensation Aurora
BAFTA-winning actress Wunmi Mosaku
celebrated actor Kerry Fox
 Bryony Kimmings, winner of last year’s inaugural Popcorn Award 
for ‘I’m a Phoenix, Bitch’
award-winning and Olivier-nominated ‘Fleabag’ producer Francesca Moody 
and Gonzalo Maza, writer of ‘A Fantastic  Woman’ 
winner of the 2018 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film

What links the mental, emotional and physical challenge of learning to live with a disability, overcoming grief and depression, and celebrating the complexity and joy of love in all it’s multitude of forms? 

They are among the subjects covered in this year’s shortlist for the 2020 Popcorn Award for new plays that were scheduled to premiere at the cancelled Edinburgh Fringe.

This year’s final shortlist of eight from 133 eligible plays that were due to premiere at Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance,  Summerhall, Traverse Theatre and Underbelly,  includes work from all over the UK and champions marginalised communities, shining a light on people who’s stories are just not heard or seen. 

The prize fund has doubled this year to £5,000 and there will  be three awards of £2,500,  £1,500 and £1,000.

Charlotte Colbert and Jessica Malik of Popcorn Group said: “We believe in the bold and adventurous spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe and although it has been cancelled this year, we wanted to help to find a way to keep its spirit alive. The standard of work entered this year was incredibly high and if this process is indicative of the quality of the emerging writers in this  country, the future is very bright.” 

Winner of last year’s inaugural Popcorn award for ‘I’m a Phoenix, Bitch’, Bryony Kimmings, who is on this year’s judging panel, said: “The Popcorn Award is special as it buys a writer or artist one of the most scarce and undervalued commodities… time.”

Anthony Alderson, Director of Pleasance Theatre Trust said of the award: “Given the tragic state that the theatre industry is currently in, awards such as this – the first of its kind at the Edinburgh fringe – help highlight and give recognition to a group of hugely talented writers who need all the support we can offer.”

The Edinburgh Fringe has long been the beginning of the journey for many of the biggest names in the industry and it is facing financial devastation with a predicted deficit of £21 million. 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has said: “It’s a vital part of our culture and our future. Without it, we lose the voices of artists who bring inspiration to our lives and success to our shores.”

The final shortlist and their venues are:

‘Daddy’ by Camilla Whitehill (Pleasance)

‘Little Miss Burden’ by Matilda Ibini (Traverse Theatre)

‘Sticky Door’ by Katie Arnstein (Pleasance)

‘Silkworm’ by Vlad Butucea (Assembly Festival)

‘BURN’ by Chris Thompson (Assembly Festival)

‘Es and Flo’ by Jennifer Lunn (Traverse Theatre)

Denouement by John Morton (Traverse Theatre)

‘Autopilot’ by Ben Norris (Summerhall)

The illustrious judging committee is made up of a carefully selected group of like-minded mavericks from theatre, film, TV and beyond:

Ruth Wilson
Golden Globe and Olivier-winning actress

Anthony Alderson
Artistic Director of The Pleasance Theatre Trust

Aurora
acclaimed Norwegian singer, songwriter, and record producer

Fatima Bhutto
columnist and writer of ‘The Shadow of the Crescent Moon’

Charlotte Colbert
co-founder of Popcorn Group, artist and filmmaker

Philip Colbert
co-founder of Popcorn, artist and neo-pop surrealist

Natalie Denton
Development Executive at Popcorn Group

Kerry Fox
multi award-winning actor known for ‘Shallow Grave’, ‘Intimacy’, ‘Little Joe’, and ‘An Angel at My Table’

Tony Grisoni
writer of several of director Terry Gilliam’s films, including ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and ‘Tideland’

Bryony Kimmings
winner of last year’s inaugural Popcorn Award, 
Performance Artist, associate of Soho Theatre

Art Malik
award-winning, TV, film and stage actor

Jessica Malik
(Producer) Head of Film, TV and Theatre for Popcorn Group, she is also the incumbent chair of the London Board of Cinemagic

Gonzalo Maza
writer of ‘A Fantastic Woman’, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2018 as well as numerous other accolades

Francesca Moody
Producer known for award-winning and Olivier-nominated ‘Fleabag’ by Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Wunmi Mosaku
BAFTA-winning actress, known for ‘Damilola, Our Loved Boy’, ‘Moses Jones’ and ‘Temple’

Katie Pennick
disability campaigner and creative
The Popcorn Group

Popcorn Group Productions is run by Charlotte Colbert and Jessica Malik. It develops and produces innovative and provoking content across film, TV, and theatre. 

In 2018, the Popcorn Group co-produced the viral sensation ‘Leading Lady Parts’ for the BBC starring Emilia Clarke, Gemma Arterton, Gemma Chan, Catherine Tate, Felicity Jones and Tom Hiddleston, which amassed over 20 million views.

The company is in post-production on ‘She Will’, a feature film starring Alice Krige, Kota Eberhardt, Malcolm McDowell, and Rupert Everett. 

On the TV side, the Popcorn Group is developing its theatre smash hit ‘Angry Alan’ for TV with NBCUniversal. This year, the company has teamed up with Lionsgate on its TV series ‘A Womb of One’s Own’. 

The Popcorn Group is known for their slate of stellar talent, including projects with Gonzalo Maza (writer of the Academy Award-winning film ‘A Fantastic Woman’), Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (‘Emilia’), Chinonyerem Odimba, Simon Amstell, Bafta-winning writer Charlie Covell, and Mary Harron (‘American Psycho’).

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