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Judges and funding announced for The Phil Fox Award

Outside Edge Theatre Company, which is the UK’s only theatre company and participatory arts charity focused on addiction, is pleased to announce that Simon Stephens, Barbara Broccoli OBE, Matt Applewhite and Sonya Hale will join Enda Walsh as judges for the inaugural Phil Fox Award for Playwriting. The Carne Trust will provide support for this year’s competition with a generous donation toward the costs of the award’s administration.

The Phil Fox Award for Playwriting, which is named after OETC’s founder, will invite playwrights from across the UK to submit scripts about issues related to substance misuse and addiction. This year’s competition will soon open for entries from March to June. The winner of the cash prize and professional development opportunities will be announced in November. The final shortlist of scripts will be assessed by a panel of judges that is chaired by multi-award-winning playwright Enda Walsh. 

The newly announced judges for this year’s award include Simon Stephens (Tony and Oliver-award winning playwright), Barbara Broccoli OBE ( James Bond films and West End & Broadway theatre producer), Matt Applewhite (Nick Hern Books Managing Director & Commissioning Editor) and Sonya Hale (OETC Associate Theatre Facilitator and Synergy Theatre Project & Heretic Voices award-winning playwright). A full list of judges will be announced at a later date.

OETC Artistic Director, Matt Steinberg, says, “I am beyond thrilled that such an incredible group of judges has agreed to join us for our inaugural script competition. OETC’s ethos and belief that theatre can help lead people out of addiction and into recovery is rooted in the personal experience of founder Phil Fox who was a playwright, director, actor and recovering heroin addict. The involvement of this extraordinary group of judges, led by Enda Walsh, is a testament to the enduring legacy that Phil left us. We hope this panel of judges, and the urgent theme of addiction underpinning the competition, will inspire playwrights from all backgrounds to submit their scripts and bring a batch of diverse stories to the stage.”

OETC is also excited to announce that The Carne Trust will provide financial support for this year’s competition. The Trust’s generous gift will help pay for the costs associated with the award’s administration. Founded in 2006 by Philip Carne MBE and Christine Carne, The Carne Trust works closely with major drama and music academies, providing scholarships to individuals selected by those institutions, both on the basis of talent and financial need. The Trust has a strong interest in the career development of its young artists, and offers limited financial help to them after graduation, as well as to other talented individuals and groups, during their transition to the commercial artistic world. Since its inception, The Carne Trust has helped around 200 actors, playwrights, directors, musicians, singers as well as numerous chamber groups. In addition to the Phil Fox Award for Playwriting, The Carne Trust supports the Theatre503 International Playwriting Award and supported young playwrights based in Wales at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff. 

Matt Steinberg says, “We are incredibly grateful to The Carne Trust, and in particular Philip and Christine Carne, for this encouraging sign of support for the inaugural Phil Fox Award for Playwriting. I have long admired The Trust’s commitment to developing the next generation of artists across the UK and their practical investments that help artists from diverse backgrounds forge sustainable careers in the arts. We are so pleased to have received this acknowledgement from one of the sector’s leading funders of talent development. As with the other script development opportunities supported by The Carne Trust, I hope this partnership will help OETC to effectively nurture numerous talented playwrights well into the future.”

When the Phil Fox Award for Playwriting was first announced in November 2019 press release, Enda Walsh said, “It is a great honour to be associated with Outside Edge and I’m so looking forward to reading scripts submitted for this inaugural competition. Theatre can take on so many different shapes – its aesthetic and structure is extremely amorphous. Yet at its core we use theatre to make some sort of sense of ‘us’ in this peculiar and surprising and terrifying and wonderful world. The specific world of addiction, of substance dependence is complex and challenging. To those submitting – I wish them the very best of luck with their plays. Be brave. Use the medium.” 

Information on additional competition judges and further details on script submission criteria for the Phil Fox Award for Playwriting will be announced shortly.

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