Jennifer Lunn has been awarded the The Popcorn Writing Award 2020 for her play Es and Flo, and receives a cash prize of £2,500. The other finalists are Matilda Ibini (awarded £1,500) and Chris Thompson (£1,000) with Camilla Whitehill receiving a Special Mention (£500). In addition celebrated actors Kit Harington, Tuppence Middleton, Celia Imrie, Sharon D. Clarke and Rory Bremner have filmed extracts of the finalist plays from their homes in lockdown.
The Popcorn Writing Award, with a prize fund of £5,500, was established in 2019 to champion fearless work at the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe which playfully and artistically questions and addresses current affairs, societal trends and contributes positively to public debate.
This year it is awarded to new plays that were scheduled to premiere at the cancelled Fringe and all eligible plays from the Traverse, Assembly, Pleasance, Underbelly, Summerhall and Gilded Balloon were considered for the award
The winner was selected by a 16-strong committee including Golden Globe winning Ruth Wilson, Olivier-nominated producer Francesca Moody, singer/songwriter Aurora, Gonzalo Maza (writer of the Academy Award-winning A Fantastic Woman) and BAFTA-winning actress Wunmi Mosaku. The committee and the Popcorn Group said that all the winning plays displayed an emotional integrity and strength as well as a brilliant artistic flair.
Es and Flo by Jennifer Lunn, which was due to be performed at the Traverse Theatre, explores the moving story of a lesbian couple that have secretly been in love and living together for over 30 years when Es begins to show signs of dementia. It’s a story about generations of women and choosing your own family, kindness and forgiveness and discrimination as Flo is determined to make sure that she and Es are not parted.
The extract from Es and Flo is performed by Sharon D. Clarke and Celia Imrie, directed by Emma Callander, co-artistic director of Theatre Uncut.
Jennifer Lunn said: “It’s an absolute honour to receive this award especially in this strange year as we wait to be able to put the play and these characters in front of an audience.
“A huge thanks to The Popcorn Group for choosing a story celebrating a diverse and intersectional group of women and thanks to Wales Millennium Centre for their unstinting support of this production. And of course, the prize itself is the gift all writers need – time to write. Thank you so much!”
Charlotte Colbert and Jessica Malik of The Popcorn Group, added: “We are delighted that Jennifer has won the award for Es and Flo. Jen’s play feels particularly relevant right now. It’s such a moving and brave piece about kindness, generations of women coming together, and most of all the strength people find in choosing their own families. We were so inspired by the talent of the writers who submitted their work for the award this year and were proud to pull together such an impressive shortlist. We can’t wait until the day that all these plays are staged.”
Little Miss Burden which was due to be performed at the Traverse Theatre, is Matilda Ibini’s coming-of-age tale that smashes together 90s nostalgia, Nigerian family, East London and Sailor Moon to tell the sometimes tricky, often funny truth about growing up with a physical impairment.
The extract from Little Miss Burden is performed by Saida Ahmed, Ani Nelson and Michelle Tiwo, directed by incoming co-artistic director of the Traverse Theatre, Debbie Hannan.
BURN, written by Chris Thompson, which was due to be performed at Assembly Festiival, explored the big themes of love, terminal illness and death. The story follows Ashley and Sam as they meet in an art gallery and their subsequent relationship as they tackle grief head on.
The extract from ‘BURN’ is performed by Kit Harington and Tuppence Middleton, directed by Out of Joint artistic director Kate Wasserberg.
Daddy, which was due to be performed at Pleasance is Camilla Whitehill’s explosive new play which pulls the audience into the warped world of a “master comedian” (suit and Peroni included). The pieces wrestles with the issues of misogyny, depression and crippling trauma.
The extract from Daddy is read by Rory Bremner, directed by Sarah Meadows, artistic director of Longsight Theatre Company.