On theatre

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Indy Lifestyle Online
'When I took over here, people like Bob Hoskins and Nigel Hawthorne told me that if it hadn't been for her, they wouldn't have become actors, and endless playwrights have gone into print acknowledging their debt to her.' Abigail Morris is the director of the Soho Theatre Company, the dreamchild of Verity Bargate who died of cancer in 1981 aged just 40. The Verity Bargate Award was set up in her memory to continue her pioneering work with new writers. Those with three or more productions under their belts cannot apply.

The prize money represents the equivalent of a commission fee. All the shortlisted plays are given rehearsed readings and the winning play is produced by the company, in some cases after a series of workshops. A novel doesn't need to be published for you to learn from it. Playwrights, however, need to see and hear their work in action. 'Workshopping plays is so valuable. You can't create talent, but you can certainly speed the process up.'

Last year's winner, Diane Samuels's Kindertransport (below) has been a real success story with a sell-out London run, followed by its current success off-Broadway. Morris is just back from a casting session for the West End run next year. 'There's been huge interest in the transfer. People have been ringing up wanting to invest, but we still need more.' The deadline for this year's award is the end of this month. Nineteen days and counting. . .

For details of the Award and the West End production of Kindertransport, call Rachel Furst/Mark Godfrey on 071-262 7907.

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