October was an exciting month for OP Patrick Russell (02-13) after his play Antlers was nominated for two prestigious playwright awards.
After studying English Literature and graduating from Warwick University, Patrick took part in the Birmingham Rep Foundry Scheme and the Soho Theatre Young Company Writers’ Lab, where he wrote his nominated play, Antlers.
Out of 1,064 submissions, Patrick was one of six playwrights shortlisted for the prestigious Verity Bargate Award for best new writer for the theatre.
This biennial playwriting prize, named after Soho Theatre’s co-founder, is open to writers who have had fewer than three professional productions. The winner receives £7,000 in respect of an exclusive option for Soho Theatre to produce their play. The award has previously uncovered the best new play by an emerging UK writer and launched the careers of some of Britain’s most established writers.
Antlers was also one of five plays shortlisted for the Tony Craze Award which honours an exceptional play from the 2016 intake of 80 Soho Theatre Young Company Writers’ Lab participants. Antlers is about the responsibilities within families and the process of caring and letting go of loved ones. It uses folklore, storytelling and magical realism to investigate the ageing process.
The winner of both awards was announced during an event at Soho Theatre, on October 27, when excerpts from the nominated plays were performed to a panel of eight judges.
Patrick was delighted to be announced as the winner of the Tony Craze Award. His play Antlers will receive a rehearsed reading at the Soho Theatre in London next year.
Patrick remembers fondly his time spent at Pocklington School, which ultimately inspired him to follow his chosen career path. He says: “I still think of my time in the Tom Stoppard Theatre with the Theatre Department staff. I wrote my first play while I was at Pocklington and I will always remember those teachers that championed creativity.” His play was called The Final Push and was a comedy about education and leaving school and followed a group of friends on the day of their final A level exams.
Patrick continues to work with the Birmingham Rep and Soho Theatre and hopes to progress his own career as a playwright, whilst also helping to inspire and develop new talent. He says: “My ambition is to have my own work staged professionally as well as work in development and new writing departments in order to help other new writers and new voices get their work on stage and screen.”
Patrick is at the start of a promising career in which we wish him well and hope to be able to see some of his work performed in the future.