Theresa Ikoko’s Girls has won the 2015 Alfred Fagon Award for best new play of the year, Georgian Snow reports for The Stage. You can find her report here.
The award – given to a new play by a writer of Caribbean or African descent, who is resident in the UK – was presented as part of a ceremony at the National Theatre, which also saw two new prizes given, including a new £3,000 bursary.
Now in its 19th year, the award was set up in memory of actor and playwright Alfred Fagon, who died in 1986.
Ikoko’s debut play beat off competition from David Judge’s Skipping Rope, Deidan Williams’ Manhattan Out to Sea, Looked After Children by Eva Edo and Tolula Dada’s Carrot or Stick, to take home the £6,000 prize.
Girls, which is about three of the girls abducted by terrorists in northern Nigeria, was also shortlisted for the 2015 Verity Bargate Award.
Ikoko was presented with the prize by National Theatre director Rufus Norris, who said that it is “a benchmark for quality in new writing of any kind”.
Ikoko said: “I want my friends I grew up with on an estate in Hackney to walk into buildings like the National Theatre with a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership, because it belongs to us as much as it belongs to anyone else. I want to walk in and feel like I am here because you are telling my story.”
Previous winners of the award include Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum Dreams and Charlene James’ Cuttin’ It, which was produced by BBC Radio 4 earlier this year and will tour theatres including the Young Vic, the Royal Court and Birmingham Rep in 2016.
The ceremony also saw the introduction of the Alfred Fagon Audience Award, which was shared between Diana Nneka Atuona’s Liberian Girl, Play Mas by Mustapha Matura and Matilda Ibini’s Muscovado.
The new award was announced earlier this year and is voted for by the public from a shortlist of 11 plays by black British writers, produced within the last year.
A second new award was given as part of the ceremony, held on November 27 in the NT’s Dorfman. The Roland Rees Bursary was launched in memory of director Roland Rees, the Alfred Fagon Award’s founder, who died in September.
The inaugural bursary of £3,000 was won by stage and screen writer Mark Norfolk and was presented by director Yvonne Brewster.
The bursary will be presented annually to a writer selected by the judges.