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Outside Edge Theatre Company (OETC), the UK’s only theatre company and participatory arts charity focused on addiction, todayannounces Silas Parry as the winner of the inaugural Phil Fox Playwriting Award, with his magic realistscript Lessons For Diving. Parry will receive a £6,000 commission and mentorship from chair of the judging panel, Tony Award-winning playwright Enda Walsh.

In its debut year, the prize was created to recognise original scripts looking at issues of addiction, by playwrights from all backgrounds and experience levels. Also on the 2020 judging panel are leading industry figures Matt Applewhite (Nick Hern Books Managing Director and Commissioning Editor), Barbara Broccoli OBE (Film Producer), Sonya Hale (OETC Associate Theatre Facilitator and Heretic Voices award-winning playwright), Indhu Rubasingham (Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre), Matt Steinberg (OETC Artistic Director) and Simon Stephens (Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright of The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time).

In recognition of the exceptional quality of submissions this year, judges also awarded Special Commendations to two finalist playwrights for their scripts: Kristian Phillips (Drift) and Jack Stanley (Boomerang). Along with Lessons for Diving, the two Special Commendation scripts will receive a package of development support and a public reading in the new year. 

Silas Parry today said, “This is the best news, I’m so honoured to receive the inaugural Phil Fox Award. The play is close to my heart, and it means a huge amount that the judging panel responded to Jo and Danny’s story. Outside Edge’s unique approach to theatre makes them the perfect home for this project, and I really can’t wait to work on Lessons for Diving with them and Enda Walsh. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!”

Enda Walsh added, “I’d like to add my congratulations to Silas Parry for winning the inaugural Phil Fox Award for his play Lessons For Diving. Remarkably it’s his first play and the daring of its execution, his sensitivity and handling of these complex characters – marked Silas’ play out from a very strong shortlist. Thank you to my fellow judges. We are all so excited to have found such an original voice full of its own theatrical expression. Magic realism in Grimsby never looked so good!”

Artistic Director of Outside Edge Theatre Company, Matt Steinberg commented, “Today Outside Edge celebrates its 21st birthday. I cannot imagine a better gift for a theatre company than to receive Silas Parry’s imaginative, heartfelt Lessons For Diving. Along with the two Fox Award Special Commendation plays, I am excited to continue developing this ambitious script from such an exceptionally promising writer. Since the start of lockdown Outside Edge has experienced a 40% increase in need from vulnerable people accessing our arts-based recovery maintenance support activities. Many of them found the Fox Award was as a positive, creative distraction that helped combat the loneliness of lockdown and their scripts progressed quite far in the competition’s assessment process. And with almost 70% of playwrights who submitted for this year’s competition identifying as being affected by addiction, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the legacy of the company’s founding Artistic Director, Phil Fox. Thank you again to all the writers from across the country who shared their stories with us.”

A huge congratulations to Silas, we can’t wait to work with him and Enda Walsh to develop his fantastic script ‘Lessons for Diving’.

Watch as he tells us a bit more about himself, his winning script and his journey as an artist and writer so far…

by Silas Parry

Danny has taken care of Jo since their Mum died of an overdose. 

After working long days for a Grimsby drug dealer, Danny comes home at night and coaxes his little brother back from terrifying visions of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Jo helps Danny bag up the brown powder, but when a Mexican fisherman warns Jo about the predators circling Danny every day, their plans to stop his brother dealing go badly wrong.

And as Danny’s job spirals out of control, Jo is caught in his own battle with a giant, man-eating Humboldt Squid.

This is Silas Parry’s playwriting debut. He has previously been selected for the BBC Writersroom, and received a BAFTA Los Angeles scholarship to support an MFA in dramatic writing at the Rita & Burton Goldberg Department, TISCH / NYU. He is also a visual artist, and has most recently exhibited at Contemporary Art Space Osaka.


We are delighted to announce the finalists for the inaugural Phil Fox Award for Playwriting!

Boomerang by Jack Stanley

Drift by Kristian Phillips

Lessons for Diving by Silas Parry

Pushing on Open Doors by Sarah Connors

What’s Lost in the Gaps by Jack Robson

A huge congratulations to all five amazing playwrights. Want to get to know them and their scripts better? Watch them introduce themselves, explore their themes and discuss their motivations for applying here

Thank you to everyone who submitted, we were thrilled to receive so many outstanding scripts. Congratulations to the twenty one plays shortlisted…

A is for Appy by Dominic McHale

A short guide to staying alive by Olga Nikora

Bitter by Louise Coulthard

Boomerang by Jack Stanley

Circle Game by Sophie Swithinbank

Daisies and iPhones by Daphne Di Cinto

Drift by Kristian Phillips

Empty Orchestra by Mark Fenton

Entropy by Kate Reid

Grotesque, Stupid and Ungrateful by Natalie Jones

Jerk by Nick Edgeworth

Lessons for Diving by Silas Parry

Necropolis by John Straiton

Nibble Nibble Gnaw by Isla Cowan

Parlour Games by Simon Glass

Pushing on Open Doors by Sarah Connors

Skinhead Moonstomp by Karen Brown

Squirrels by Ayse Evans

The Goodest Boys by Vikki Stone

Well Wishes by Matthew McGuigan

What’s Lost in the Gaps by Jack Robson

The Phil Fox Award for Playwriting, which is named after OETC’s founder, invites playwrights with any level of experience from across the UK to submit full-length scripts about issues related to addiction.

The competition winner will receive a £6,000 commission from OETC to continue developing the winning script or to develop a new script about issues related to addiction. They will also receive mentoring from multi-award winning playwright Enda Walsh, who chairs the judging panel. 

This year’s competition will open for entries from March 16th to June 16th with a winner announced in early November. Submitted full-length plays from UK residents must be original, unproduced and about issues related to addiction.

Playwrights will need to clearly articulate how their scripts relate to these issues, which is not limited to substance misuse or alcohol abuse, but also includes subject matter involving non-chemical addictions, such as social media or sex addiction. Plays may also explore the social or structural determinants that contribute to addiction, such as access to services or the supply chain of an addictive product. The characters do not need to be addicts; for example, plays about people directly affected by another person’s addiction, such as family members of addicts, will also be accepted.

Judges for this year’s award include: 

Enda Walsh (Tony Award-winning playwright) 

Simon Stephens (Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright)

Barbara Broccoli OBE (James Bond films and West End & Broadway theatre producer)

Indhu Rubasingham (Artistic Director of the Kiln Theatre)

Matt Applewhite (Nick Hern Books Managing Director & Commissioning Editor)

Matt Steinberg (OETC Artistic Director)

Enda Walsh says, “We’ve assembled a fantastic judging panel who share my admiration and respect for Outside Edge Theatre Company. We are all very much looking forward to receiving these plays. To those writers – get writing – be brave with your submissions – and the very best of luck with the work.”

For more information on the 2020 Phil Fox Award, see How to Apply & Eligibility Criteria and FAQs.

Please follow us on social media or sign up to our mailing list (sign up form below in footer) in order to receive up to date information regarding the submission process, rules and additional award details.

The Phil Fox Award for Playwriting is generously supported by:

An Anonymous Friend of OETC

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