* List/Writers' Guild Festival Writing Awards
This article is from 2006.
We announce the winners of this year’s Festival Writing Awards, sponsored by The List and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain
WINNER: BEST COMEDY
REGINALD D HUNTER, below
Also shortlisted: Mark Watson, The Receptionists (Verity Rose Woolnough, Katie Lyons and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm).
The man from Atlanta who launched a comedy career after moving to London has occupied many a shortlist in his time without quite scooping the main prize. So, it’s about time that someone gave this most powerful of comedy writers and performers a gong. He has won here with arguably his best show to date, Pride and Prejudice and Niggas.
Having backed Hunter all the way before the Festival had even started, we were delighted to see him ‘roam his stage with exquisite poise and an arsenal of killer material.’ Whether he was talking about being mistaken for Pelé by a Chinese guy or questioning why he does the things he does in his relationships, he is ‘both intensely funny and actually quite moving.’ (Brian Donaldson)
WINNER: BEST COMEDY NEWCOMER
SIMON BRODKIN, below
£250, PLUS MENTORING FROM BBC
Also shortlisted: The Future (Joe Thomas, Jonny Sweet).
It’s not every day you see a white comic browning up before your very eyes. But Simon Brodkin is quite clearly no ordinary comic. His four characters (an Asian doc, a trustafarian, a chav and a holiday rep) are almost too deliciously drawn for words as the comic seeks to reflect a cross-section of British life.
In our review, we were more than happy to praise him for those ‘scintillating and hilarious portrayals’ and also for taking them a step further and making them all extremely bloody funny. ‘This is bold and innovative thinking from a guy who, rather handily, can also write killer line after killer line’ we raved. And with good cause. (Brian Donaldson)
WINNER: BEST THEATRE
BLACK WATCH (GREGORY BURKE)
Also shortlisted: Particularly in the Heartland (Rachel Chavkin and TEAM), Improbable Frequency (Arthur Riordan).
Black Watch, Greg Burke’s wittily written and deeply moving piece of theatre - developed partly with former members of the regiment - amounts to a stunning acheivement for the NTS, which, in the international showcase of the Festival, has demonstrated the talent, in both writing and production that Scotland can boast when given the resources. TEAM might be considered unlucky to be nominated for a List award in two successive years without winning. Given the astonishing power of their piece, and the challenge to the mainstream they represent, it won’t be the last we see of them. Improbable Frequency should also have a longer shelf life, given the the brilliant language and style of this rollicking musical comedy. (Steve Cramer)
WINNER: BEST THEATRE NEWCOMER
FINER NOBLE GASES (ADAM RAPP, pictured)
£250, plus mentoring from BBC
Also shortlisted: The Unsinkable Clerk (Tom Warwick, Felix Hayes and Andrew Paton).
Adam Rapp is in some ways rather an ironic newcomer, given his well established reputation as a dramatist, novelist and poet Stateside. Yet this was his first piece for the Fringe. and only his second European production. His dark reflection on a former rock group, now gone to waste, amounts to a meticulous piece of theatre, with the written word and music fully integrated to make an emotional and aesthetic whole. One hopes to see more of both Rapp’s writing, and his band, in the future. There was a good deal of skilled combination with physical action, too, in the co-written The Unsinkable Clerk, demonstrating as it did, a facility for ‘writing for the body’, in its combination of the humorous written word with physical skills. (Steve Cramer)
In addition to prizes of £500 in the ‘Best’ categories, and £250 in the ‘Best Newcomer categories, each winner receives a year’s free membership to the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. Newcomers are also offered mentoring from BBC drama and comedy producers.
BBC MENTORING FOR NEWCOMERS
Paul Ashton and Katherine Beacon will act as mentors for this year’s winners in the Newcomer categories. The mentoring will be completely tailored to the individual writers. There will be as much face-to-face contact as the writer wants - and geography allows. Ashton and Beacon will attempt to point their writer in the right direction at the BBC, and they would ideally like to view this as a long-term development relationship.
THIS YEAR’S JUDGES
Sally Avens, BBC drama producer (Radio 3, Radio 4)
Nick Barley, Editor of The List
Steve Cramer, Theatre editor of The List
Brian Donaldson, Comedy editor of The List
Peter Sinclair, Comedy writer (Spitting Image, Rory Bremner)
Arthur Smith, Comedian and writer (Alas Smith and Jones)