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Olwen Wymark Award winners pay testimony to theatre’s spirit in lockdown

WGGB is delighted to present its annual awards for the encouragement of new writing at a special online event on Thursday 8 April 2021.

This year, which marks the 16th annual Olwen Wymark Awards, has seen an unprecedented number of nominations and a record number of recipients (see the full list of winners).

Award winners range from high-profile playwrights to community drama teachers, mentors, artistic directors, producers, dramaturgs, actors, casting agents and CEOs.

All share a common passion for nurturing and championing playwrights during a hugely challenging year for the theatre sector.

Common themes emerge from the nominations, shining a spotlight on how mutually supportive, resilient and creative the theatre community in the UK has been during Covid-19.

The recipients of the awards have inspired confidence, showed sensitivity, compassion and a relentless commitment to ensure new work is made and new voices are heard.

Their dedication to encouraging disabled writers, BAME writers, writers from different regions and of all ages and genders knows no bounds.

Nor does their ability to sensitively cajole, cheerlead, challenge, empower and draw out playwrights’ best work against a backdrop of ill health, cancelled shows, hastily reconvened script readings on Zoom and the myriad other challenges of lockdown.

The Olwen Wymark Theatre Encouragement Awards were developed by playwrights Mark Ravenhill and David James (former Chair of the WGGB Theatre Committee) to give WGGB members the opportunity to publicly thank those who have given them a positive experience in new writing over the previous year.

They are named in honour of playwright Olwen Wymark, passionate supporter of WGGB and former Chair of the WGGB Theatre Committee, who died in 2013.

Mark Ravenhill said: “’Good writers need champions, enablers, cheerleaders, door-openers if they are to reach an audience and to realise their potential. The Olwen Wymark Encouragement Award is a fantastic opportunity to recognise, thank and celebrate the champions of new theatre writing across the country.’

David James, who has organised the awards since 2005, said: “The awards were set up to make a statement of how important encouragement is, and are based on the simple premise of saying ‘thank you’.

“This year – more than ever – they are a bright spot on the Writers’ Guild’s annual calendar.”

Find out more about the awards.