Success for St Andrews playwrights

Thursday 26 March 2015

Two lecturers at the University of St Andrews have received international recognition for their dramatic works.

Zinnie Harris, Senior Lecturer in Playwriting in the School of English has won the prestigious Berwin Lee Playwrights Award in New York with a $25,000 prize.

‌Meanwhile, lecturer Oliver Emanuel’s award-winning show “Dragon” is going to be presented as part of the Edinburgh International Festival this year.

Ms Harris was one of two winners, receiving the UK award, alongside Stephen Karam, the United States recipient.

Both Karam and Harris were chosen unanimously by the trustees of the award based in part on recommendations from the Artistic Directors of Lincoln Center Theatre in New York and the Royal Court Theatre in London.

Each recipient will receive the award in the form of a commission, with no specific time frame attached so that they have the freedom to write the plays they want to write without restriction.

A reception was held in their honour in New York City last week (March 19).

The award organisers said: “We are thrilled to announce our second awards to two exceptional talents Stephen Karam and Zinnie Harris. These grants are consistent with our desire to see Berwin Lee London New York Playwrights Inc. help to foster and develop new plays from talented playwrights on both sides of the Atlantic. The four winners to date are all individual and unique theatre voices who share a passion for their art form and perhaps a certain muscularity of vision.”

DragonOliver Emanuel is a lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of English at the University. His play Dragon (pictured) was commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland in association with Vox Motus and the Tianjin People Arts Theatre, China and won Best Show for Children and Young People at the UK Theatre Awards in 2014.

It tells the story of 12-year-old Tommy who has recently lost his mother.  His father is in despair, his big sister ignores him and he has become the target of the school bully and then one night a dragon appears at his window….

The play has no spoken text and uses puppetry, magic and orchestral music in a 75 minute work. It opened at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, before touring to Eden Court in Inverness, the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and the Lowry Theatre in Salford.



Zinnie Harris is a playwright and screenwriter. Her celebrated early play Further Than the Furthest Thing (produced by the Royal National Theatre / Tron Theatre) won her the Peggy Ramsay Playwriting and Whiting Award in 2001. She has since won an Arts Foundation Fellowship Prize for Playwriting, an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, and five Fringe First Awards. Her work has been seen on many of the major stages in the UK including the National Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Court and is now frequently performed in translation across the world. She has written dramas for television, including two original dramas for Channel and episodes for the BBC One espionage drama Spooks.

Oliver Emanuel is a Scottish-based playwright born in Kent, England, and studied at Leeds University and the University of East Anglia before settling in Glasgow in 2006. He has written for most of the major theatre companies in Scotland and his work has been seen across the UK, Ireland, Europe, Canada, USA and China. He also writes extensively for BBC radio. Oliver’s play Dragon won Best Show for Children and Young People at the UK Theatre Awards 2014.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 462108 or [email protected].

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