News: Arch468 announces winner of £10,000 playwright prize

Andrew Thompson’s One Hundred Oxen has been awarded the inaugural Hope Prize by Arch468. He receives a £10,000 commission, having responded to the open call out for a new play that offered a vision of hope in a bid to ensure that hope is not allowed to fade from public discourse. Arch 468 will be working with partners including Theatre Clwyd, An Tobar & Mull Theatre and Hightide to explore production of the finished piece from 2023 onwards.

One Hundred Oxen examines how a seismic change can cause unprecedented ripples through our lives. Thompson explores the scientific premise that our body renews on a cellular level every seven years, looking at how we develop as people and change and grow in relationships. Examining issues of science, grief, religion and self-discovery, the piece is fundamentally about finding the strength to shake off setbacks, celebrating the idea that we can all rise triumphantly from a place of struggle, even from what may seem like the very blackest of holes. Thompson is an Edinburgh and Newcastle based writer who has previously been selected for the L20 artist attachment scheme with Lyceum Theatre in 2021 and the Writer’s Hothouse project with the RSC in 2020.

Thompson commented: “Winning this prize is fantastic. To have the chance to work with an idea of hope, and to take that work into communities in times like these with Arch 468 feels like a real gift. I’m excited to get started and to create something really theatrical and inspiring together.”

Due to the high calibre of entries, Catherine Dyson has been named as runner up of the Hope Prize with a £2,000 prize for her play I Will Still Be Dreaming. The Welsh writer is known from BBC Writers Comedy Room 2019/2020 and was shortlisted for the 2019 inaugural Wales Writer in Residence Award. I Will Still Be Dreaming intertwines three narratives in a time-travelling, genre-busting story about our potential to rebuild ourselves. What would happen if we could look at ourselves from a great distance? If we could face the limits of our knowledge with honesty and courage?

Dyson commented: “I’m incredibly happy to have been selected as a runner up for the Arch 468 Hope Prize. I’m thrilled that the wild idea I submitted resonated with the judges, and so grateful to be given the opportunity to develop it. Thank you!”

The shortlisted playwrights announced earlier this year were Annie Fox with Wildfires (Spark), Beth Noonan-Roberts with Cataclysm, Carla Grauls for The Unseeing, Elsie Loades and Megan Mumby for The Earth is in the Sky Tonight, Matthew Gabrielli with Fool’s Gold and Tabitha Mortiboy for Kissing Rice.

The final panel selecting the winner from the shortlist were Suba Das (HighTide), Richard Twyman (English Touring Theatre), Suzanne Bell (Royal Exchange), Tamara Harvey and Nick Stevenson (Theatr Clwyd), Stewart Pringle (National Theatre), Chloé Nelkin (Chloé Nelkin Consulting), Sofia Stephanou (Arch 468) and Rebecca Atkinson-Lord (Arch468, An Tobar and Mull Theatre).

Rebecca Atkinson-Lord commented: “I’m delighted that Andrew has been selected as the winner of Arch 468’s inaugural Hope Prize. His pitch for One Hundred Oxen was incredibly accomplished and suggested a story that held space for hope on both a personal and an epic scale. I can’t wait to see how the piece develops as we move towards production. Catherine’s piece, I Will Still Be Dreaming, impressed the judges with it’s theatrical and imaginative evocation of humanity’s place in a universal narrative. I’m looking forward to supporting Catherine to find the right home for it.”

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