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RSC's 37 Plays Judging Panel Announced

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Theatre Partners have announced the Judging Panel for the nationwide playwriting competition 37 Plays: an ambitious and ground-breaking new initiative open to anybody from anywhere in the UK.

More than 2,000+ plays were submitted and have been read by a panel of 24 readers recruited from across the UK. Play submissions were divided into three age categories of up to 11 years old, 11 to 17 years old and 18 years old and above. The judges are now reading through the shortlist to select the final 37 plays, which will be announced on Thursday 18 May 2023.

Acting Artistic Director of the RSC, Erica Whyman, will chair the panel of 10 judges which includes theatre-maker and Associate Director of The Unicorn Theatre Rachel Bagshaw, actor and RSC Associate Artist Ray Fearon, Theatre Critic and Associate Editor of The Stage Lyn Gardner, Best-selling author Sharna Jackson, 2018 Ian Charleson Award-winner Bally Gill, award-winning playwrights Mark Ravenhill and Juliet Gilkes Romero and actor/writer and Associate Artist David Threlfall. They will be joined by Harry and Ella from the RSC’s Youth Advisory Board, which was established in 2019 to reflect the diverse voices of young people from across the UK.

Erica Whyman, RSC Acting Artistic Director and Chair of the 37 Plays judging panel, said; “I’m so thrilled to be working with this amazing array of judges, who bring such a range of artistic expertise to the task of putting together an unforgettable collection of plays.

“We have all been blown away by the calibre and genuine diversity of our 68-strong shortlist. There are intriguing and exhilarating plays from every region of the UK, from every age group and representing a wide range of backgrounds and life experience. A notable number of the plays tell stories we have not seen on our stages before. There are flights of wild imagination, tragedies, histories, experiments in form and delightful comedies - everything that makes it possible to survive hardship and thrive in changing times. It is going to be a painful process of selection in these final stages!

“It matters very much in a world of sometimes ferocious division or hasty judgment, that we curate a Folio that gives meaningful insight into how life is really lived in the UK today. To have invited so many first-time writers, from the very young to some very wise elders, to stand beside established professionals is a significant expression of how much creativity lurks on these islands.

"We look forward, with our Associate Theatre Partners, to staging readings of all 37 Plays this autumn so that we can offer up these plays for future production in theatres, schools and communities everywhere.”

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