The Women’s Prize for Playwriting, produced by Ellie Keel and Paines Plough, with Principal Partner 45North and in association with Sonia Friedman Productions today announce the 30 shortlisted scripts for The Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2021, selected from 850 entries. The Prize is designed to celebrate and support exceptional playwrights who identify as female by providing them with a national platform. The Prize is for a full-length play (defined as over 60 minutes in length), written in English, and the winning playwright wins £12,000. The Prize is sponsored by Samuel French Ltd, a Concord Theatricals company, who are the official publishing partner of the prize. The founding sponsor of the Prize was PER People

In its inaugural year two First Prizes of £12,000 were awarded. Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me by Amy Trigg premiered at Kiln Theatre to critical acclaim in May 2021, directed by Charlotte Bennett. An audio version was produced by Audible the following month. You Bury Me by Ahlam, directed by Katie Posner, had a staged reading at the Lyceum Theatre in August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Ellie Keel, Founder Director of The Women’s Prize for Playwriting, today said, “The process of whittling down this year’s longlist to the shortlist was incredibly hard because of the exceptional quality of the work submitted to the prize this year. We feel extremely privileged to have read ambitious and accomplished plays on an extraordinarily vast range of subjects and themes, and we hope that the content of our longlist and shortlist will act as a powerful beacon of proof that theatre programming should strive to be more bold and brave – both in terms of the writers it puts faith in, and the subject matter it elevates. I’m thrilled for the shortlisted writers and look forward to championing their plays.”

Katie Posner and Charlotte Bennett, joint Artistic Directors of Paines Plough, added, “This shortlist of writers is bursting with wit, joy and massive talent and we are continually honoured that we get the opportunity to sit with these writers’ words. They are wildly epic, clever, visual, poetic and explore big knotty ideas. There are so many plays about subjects we never see on stage and we have kept asking ourselves ‘why not?!’ It’s surreal to even comprehend how women have been prevented from storming our national main stages and these plays prove time and time again that this needs to change!”

The judges for this year’s Prize are Arifa Akbar, Mel Kenyon (Chair), Lucy Kirkwood, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Winsome Pinnock, Indhu Rubasingham, Jenny Sealey, Nina Steiger, Nicola Walker and Jodie Whittaker.


The 2021 Women’s Prize for Playwriting shortlist is:


Little Sister Alice Flynn

Birdie by Alison Carr

Like.Share.Kill by Bella Enahoro

Awareness by Beth Westbrook

Foreign by Carmen Harris

YELLOW TEETH by Dina Nayeri

Of Silent Words by Diya Sengupta and Amy Brian

Time, Like the Sea by Georgia Bruce

A Bouffon Play About Hong Kong by Isabella Leung

FURIES by Isley Lynn

Consumed by Karis Kelly

Void by Laura Waldren

upright enuf by lydia luke

The Middle by Mandi Chivasa

And Tomorrow I’ll Dance With You by Méábh de Brún

Kissing by Miriam Battye

Dollars and Sense by Naomi Sumner

Sankofa by Nicole Acquah

Blessed Spirits by Nicole Joseph

Some of Us Exist in the Future by Nkenna Akunna

Decades by Paula B Stanic


A Woman Walks into a Bank by Roxy Cook

Rojava by Sharon Farrell

HOW I LEARNED TO SWIM by Somebody Jones

The Kilburn Muhammad Ali by Tam J Miller

Imposter Syndrome by Tolu Fagbayi

Ripe by Trudie Shutler

The Light Trail by Lydia Sabatini

The finalist plays will be announced in December. The winner(s) will be announced at a ceremony in London on Friday 4 February 2022.

Discover more about the Women’s Prize for Playwriting at: