Finalists to be announced at lunchtime ceremony

Story by Paul Nelson

THE selected finalists in the 17th International Playwriting Festival will be announced at a lunchtime ceremony at the Aldwych Theatre on Wednesday, October 23.

A record 600 writers from countries as diverse as Australia, Bosnia, Trinidad, Bulgaria, Greece, Nigeria, Serbia, Sri Lanka and the UK sent in their scripts.

The best selected plays will be presented at the Warehouse Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, November 23 and 24 and one play will have the opportunity to be performed at the Italian festival, the Premio Candoni-Arta Terme, with whom the Warehouse has worked in partnership for the past six years.

They have the example later that week of one of last year's finalists, Knock Down Ginger, by Mark Norfolk, which stars Benjamin Boateng, the talented 16-year-old son of Paul Boateng, Britain's first black cabinet minister, and is being presented as a work in progress showcase at the Warehouse Theatre on Sunday October 27.

In the production, directed by Jeffery Kissoon, Benjamin plays 14 year-old Luke, who lives with his Mum, Jenny and her new boyfriend. A typical teenager, he thinks he knows it all and can look after himself, but Luke is in above his head. Caught between earning easy money or finishing school, Luke's life hangs in the balance.

The International Playwriting Festival has been discovering and promoting the work of new playwrights since 1986. Over the years, it has consolidated the Warehouse Theatre's role as a powerhouse of new writing.

This year's prestigious judging panel are Jeremy Bond (director), James Martin Charlton (playwright and director), Ted Craig (festival founder and Artistic Director of the Warehouse Theatre), Souad Faress (actor), Sally Faulkner (actor), Juliet Love (book editor), George Savvides (actor/translator), Paul Sinclair (retired director of Spotlight), Frances Stirk (Literary Manager of theTabard Theatre), Richard Vincent (playwright), Jan Waters (actor), Josephine Welcome (actor), Minna-Ella Aaltonen (producer).

Previous playwrights whose careers have been launched by the Playwriting Festival include Kevin Hood (TV's Silent Witness), Guy Jenkin (TV's Drop the Dead Donkey), Peter Moffat (TV's North Square), Richard Vincent (commissioned by Film Council to write the screenplay of his play Dirty Dogs), and Dominic McHale (The Resurrectionists).

The partnership with Premio Candoni-Arta Terme enables a selection of new writing from each festival to be presented in Italy as well as London, allowing successful writers the opportunity to see their work performed internationally. Theatro Ena, Cyprus has recently joined the partnership, allowing us to showcase the best Greek writing.