Emerging playwright Roxy Cook was announced today as the winner of the 2023 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award for her first play A Woman Walks Into a Bank. Roxy accepted the Award from Erica Whyman, Chair of the Award Judging Panel at an event taking place in the shell of the 503Studio at Nine Elms, which will become a world-class centre for debut playwrights. The event included a rehearsed reading of an excerpt of the winning play.
With her play selected from 1,466 submissions from 49 countries, Roxy receives The Carne Prize of £6,000 which includes the staging of a world premiere production at Theatre503 after a year’s support and development, and publication of her play by Samuel French Ltd, a Concord Theatricals Company.
Set in Moscow in the afterglow of the 2018 World Cup, A Woman Walks Into A Bank follows an old woman who is living with dementia as she walks into a bank looking for help, only to be conned into taking out one of Moscow’s notoriously dodgy loans… with only her cat to bear witness. Inspired by the experiences of Roxy’s relatives and told in the style of the fairytales she was told as a child, A Woman Walks Into a Bank is a darkly comic play about the social apathy tearing Russia apart from the inside out.
The play was selected as the Award Winner by a panel chaired by Erica Whyman (RSC Acting Artistic Director / Theatre503 Chair) with Alice Birch, Jon Brittain, Diane Borger, Kyo Choi, Iman Qureshi, Winsome Pinnock and Roy Williams. Three finalists – including Roxy Cook along with Olga Braga and Charlotte Cromie – were in attendance at the event with two joining remotely from the USA – Nia Akilah Robinson (from her home in Harlem, USA) and Georgia Bruce (from Princetown, where they are currently performing on tour in the USA).
On behalf of the Judging Panel, Lisa Spirling (Artistic Director) said: ‘This was an outstanding collection of plays that the judges felt took incredible courage to write, demonstrated remarkable skill, placed centre-stage people and places we haven’t seen before, and start conversations we are afraid to have. A Woman Walks Into Bank exemplifies this. It exudes a level of confidence and boldness rare in a debut play, with a theatricality that suits the chaos of the world it depicts. We can’t wait for its production on Theatre503’s stage and to watch whatever Roxy Cook does next.’
The Theatre503 International Playwriting Award is open to submissions from anyone who has yet to have had a full-length play produced professionally in a subsidised London, or major regional/international venue for 4 weeks or more. The previous winners are: Paul Murphy (Valhalla) and Bea Roberts (And Then Come The Nightjars) – joint winners 2014; Andrew Thompson (In Event of Moone Disaster, winner 2018, which went on to win Best Writer at The 2018 Stage Debut Awards); Danusia Samal (Out of Sorts, winner 2018); and Pravin Wilkins (Moreno, 2020).
The 2023 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award is made possible by the generous support of Philip and Chris Carne and Samuel French Ltd., a Concord Theatricals Company.