News: Shortlist revealed for Popcorn Writing Award 2021

The only major award to celebrate new writing at the Edinburgh Fringe announces Please, Feel Free to Share by Rachel Causer; My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored by Nana-Kofi Kufuor; This is Paradise by Michael John O’Neill; and The Cracks by Siân Rowland as shortlisted finalists for the 2021 prize.

They will share the £6,000 prize fund and the winner will be offered a guaranteed slot at one of the top six venues at the fringe.

The award ensures that new voices are heard and brought to audiences, particularly as we start to emerge from the pandemic.

‘Please, Feel Free to Share’ by Rachel Causer is a dark comedy about the addictive nature of ‘likes’, lies and our growing need to share all.

Rachel, originally from Cornwall, now based in London, said: “I began as an actor and treading the line between a lie and the truth is a concept I’ve always thought aligns with theatre in a playful way.”

‘My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored’ by Nana-Kofi Kufuor is a tense and emotional confrontation between a black teacher and pupil that explores police brutality, intersectional feminism and the question of who gets to define ‘blackness’.

Kofi, from Stockport, said: “I want to illicit an emotion in [the audience] and I want them to continue the conversations no matter how uncomfortable those conversations are.”

In ‘This Is Paradise’ by Michael John O’Neill, Kate watches the historic moment of the Good Friday Agreement unfold. She receives a phone call that forces her to face her past; her ex-lover, the river, the trauma – it all comes flooding back.

Michael, originally from Ireland but now based in central Scotland, said: “Much of what happens in this play is my reality and the reality of people close to me. But twisted and broken and reformed into something that can stand as its own story.”

‘The Cracks’ by Siân Rowland is about Kate and Amira, best friends and teachers determined to decolonise their outdated school curriculum, but find cracks appear in their relationship when one is accused of racism.

Siân, from South London, said: “I wrote ‘The Cracks’ during lockdown. As a freelance education adviser…I’ve always been aware of how schools as systems don’t always serve everyone fairly but often rely on the belief that ‘everyone is equal here’ when in truth there are huge gaps of experience.”

The finalist plays are now with the committee which includes: Art Malik, Inua Ellams, Jonny Woo, Francesca Moody, Annabelle Wallis, Andreja Pejic, Tony Grisoni and Noma Dumezweni. They will announce the winner in early September.

‘The Cracks’ by Siân Rowland is about Kate and Amira, best friends and teachers determined to
decolonise their outdated school curriculum, but find cracks appear in their relationship when one is accused of racism.

Siân, from South London, said: “I wrote ‘The Cracks’ during lockdown. As a freelance education
adviser…I’ve always been aware of how schools as systems don’t always serve everyone fairly but often rely on the belief that ‘everyone is equal here’ when in truth there are huge gaps of experience.”

The finalist plays are now with the committee which includes: Art Malik, Inua Ellams, Jonny Woo,
Francesca Moody, Annabelle Wallis, Andreja Pejic, Tony Grisoni and Noma Dumezweni. They will
announce the winner in early September.

For the last three years, Popcorn has partnered with all six of the major venues at the Fringe – Assembly Festival, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance, Summerhall, The Traverse and Underbelly. The Award celebrates fearless work which playfully and artistically questions and addresses current affairs, societal trends and contributes positively to public debate.

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