In the main category, 10 scripts from UK-based writers have been shortlisted for the award, whose previous winners have included Anna Jordan, Katherine Soper and Timothy X Atack. The international category features a five-strong shortlist, with writers from the US and Australia in the running for the inaugural £8,000 prize.
Nominees this year include Babirye Bukilwa, Phoebe Eclair-Powell, Sami Ibrahim, Jerwood New Playwright Eve Leigh and Stuart Slade.
Alongside the £16,000 overall prize, further categories include the judges prize and the original new voice award for debut writers, whose winners both take home £8,000.
This year’s shortlist was selected from 2,561 new plays, the highest number ever to be submitted for the prize and a 35% increase on the 2017 competition.
The Bruntwood Prize, which is the largest playwriting prize in Europe, is run by the Royal Exchange Theatre and Manchester property company Bruntwood.
Its judging panel this year is chaired by Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah and also includes Jordan, the Royal Exchange’s associate artistic director Bryony Shanahan and Graeae artistic director Jenny Sealey.
Shanahan said: “New work is the way in which theatre remains alive, and a vital way in which we can reflect on the world around us. These 15 writers have bravely shared their stories with us, and it is fantastic that we can celebrate their hard work and dedication and creativity with this announcement today.”
The panel also includes a people’s judge for the first time. Faith Yianni was chosen by the Royal Exchange audience competition for the best script report.
The main prize shortlist in full:
Black Bird by Babirye Bukilwa
Shed: Exploded View by Phoebe Eclair-Powell
Neptune by Sam Grabiner
The European Hare by Sami Ibrahim
Glass by Jacob Kay
Salty Irina (Retitled as ‘Title Redacted’ for the judging process) by Eve Leigh
Hares by Lee Mattinson
Ballybaile by Jody O’Neill
Akedah by Michael John O’Neill
Glee and Me by Stuart Slade
The international prize shortlist in full:
Tambo and Bones by Dave Harris (USA)
Pavlov’s Dogs by Emme Hoy (Australia)
Untitled f*ck Miss Sa*gon Play Ssrsly This Is Not the Title) by Kimber Lee (USA)
This Land Was Made by Tori Sampson (USA)
Periods of Collapse, or Mother Russia by Lauren Yee (USA)