St Andrews writer slays in UK Theatre Awards

Thursday 23 October 2014

The Dragon

A St Andrews’ academic’s play about childhood grief has won a national theatre award.

Dragon, by Oliver Emanuel, was named Best Play for Children and Young People in the UK Theatre Awards this week.

The play tells the story of 15 year old Tommy who has recently lost his mother and is living unhappily with his grief-stricken father and uncaring sister.  After a restless night, Tommy opens the bedroom curtains to discover a dragon.

When performed, Dragon has no spoken text, instead utilising puppetry, magic and orchestral music to tell the story of Tommy’s relationship with the creature.

The Dragon

Photo from the world premiere of Dragon in Glasgow last year. Credit Drew Farrell.

Oliver, a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews, wrote the play after being approached by directors Jamie Harrison and Candice Edmunds to write a play about grief and dragons.

He said, “They didn’t really have much more of an idea than that apart from the fact that they wanted it to be visual and have very little text. I had written about the subject before and had some experience of writing for young people. But how do you write a play with no words?

“I read lots and lots and wrote a few different versions of the text before we were happy. It’s a play like any other on the page but because the main character does not talk, the world is silent.”

Dragon, which was commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland, opened at the Citizen’s Theatre in October 2013.  A co-production with Scottish touring company Vox Motus and the Tianjin People Arts Theatre, China, the play subsequently toured Scotland and opened in Tianjin, China in 2014.

The play was up against productions of Around the World in Eighty Days and Nivelli’s War in the awards ceremony at London’s Guildhall on Sunday (19 October).

The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide awards to honour creative excellence and the outstanding achievement seen on and off stage throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Oliver, whose new play for children The Lost Things will open next May, said, “Dragon is a dark tale of loss, family and the beasts that haunt our dreams. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re in the process of developing another tour at the moment. It seems to be a show that both young and old respond to.

“A lot of people say there are subjects that can’t be tackled in work for children but I think if there is enough imagination in the mix then anything is possible. It’s all about setting your imagination free.

“I was really pleased to receive the UK Theatre Award for Best Play for Children and Young People. You never write for the accolades but it’s lovely when they come. I just hope that it means that more folk get to see the play.”

To view a trailer of Dragon visit:



Oliver Emanuel is available for interview on:  07740 783 256, or by email [email protected]


Images from Dragon are available from the Press Office – contacts below.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Communications Manager on 01334 467227 or email [email protected]

Ref: Dragon 231014

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