Winners Announced for Screen/Play Award 04/02/2021

“It is wonderful to have been part of such an exciting writing competition that has discovered two truly compelling, talented underrepresented voices”
Panellist Mina Anwar


Selected from nearly 350 entries from underrepresented talent right across the North of England, Box of Tricks and Sky Studios are delighted to announce that the two winners of the inaugural Screen/Play Award are Conway McDermott and Sarah Tarbit. Each writer will be awarded £10,250 to write a 70-minute stage play and a 20-minute screenplay inspired by a single central idea throughout 2021.

Conway McDermott [they/them] is a trans non-binary writer from Liverpool. They describe their work as genre fiction, using fantasy, history, sci-fi and mysticism to “create a fuller landscape of worlds and stories for weird working-class queers to inhabit”. For Screen/Play, Conway will develop The Priestess - a trans coming of age story that crashes into a psychosexual horror full of dark humour.

"All you can hope for as a writer is to connect to others through your ideas, and to find a common truth in stories. It's a great feeling to know that my pitch resonated with the panel. Suddenly these new really exciting creative partnerships are rolling into my life, and I am so excited for what they're going to bring, and desperate to rise to the challenge of it! I am on the edge of my seat with excitement for what we're going to make together!"
Conway McDermott


“Conway is an exquisite, engaging gifted writer and I for one cannot wait to see how their wonderful imaginative storytelling will be nurtured to create an exciting piece of theatre and television”
Mina Anwar


Sarah Tarbit [she/her] is from Ashington, Northumberland, one of the most deprived areas in the country. Her work documents life in the region and often calls for social and political change. In 2020, she was Highly Commended for the Sid Chaplin Award (part of the Northern Writers’ Awards) and had two short plays produced by Live Theatre in Newcastle. For Screen/Play, Sarah will develop You Belong Here exploring the effects suicide can have on a community and the people left behind.

“I’m buzzing to have been chosen for the Screen/Play Award! What an opportunity! I can’t thank Box of Tricks, Sky Studios, and the rest of the judging panel enough for believing in me and seeing value in my story. It means validation – not just for me as a writer, but for working-class stories and stories from underrepresented groups as a whole.”
Sarah Tarbit


“The world Sarah chooses to write about is rich, full of life and familiar to me. Voices I know but don’t hear and faces I recognise but don’t see, exist there. Sarah’s desire to bring what exists in the periphery into focus is what I think this award was designed for and I can’t wait to see how her pitch develops!”
David Judge


Launched to unearth exceptional Northern talent from communities currently underrepresented on stage and screen, Screen/Play has shone a light on the voices that need to be heard and the stories that need to be told and we've been overwhelmed by the wealth of talent in the region. Over the last few months, we have read 341 submissions, longlisted 64 writers, shortlisted 15, interviewed 6 finalists and, after impassioned debates with our brilliant panel, now unveil our winning writers Conway and Sarah. We can't wait to start a creative journey with them both.

In addition to developing new scripts, we'll also be supporting the 15 shortlisted writers through a tailored package of masterclasses – offering an invaluable opportunity to explore their craft and the world of screenwriting with industry experts. Alongside the two winners, those writers include Shazia Ashraf, Mohammed Barber, Rosa Hesmondhalgh, Asif Khan, Aisling Lally, Rosie MacPherson, Lauren-Nicole Mayes, Amy Rhianne Milton, Laurie Ogden, Stefanie Reynolds, Elis Shotton, Ted Steptoe and Christopher York.

 “In partnership with Sky Studios, we set out to uncover exceptional Northern talent and to celebrate creativity at a time of adversity. Reading submissions for the Screen/Play Award has highlighted for us the wealth of talent we have here in the North but that far too many of those voices still go unheard and their stories go untold. We want to unlock doors and create opportunity and we’re delighted to champion Conway and Sarah as they uncover the stories they want to tell.”
Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder and Adam Quayle, Joint Artistic Directors, Box of Tricks


"We couldn't have asked for a better response to the Screen/Play Award. At a time of unprecedented challenge for the Arts, working with Box of Tricks has underlined for us the importance of the whole creative sector in nurturing and developing new writers. Throughout the process we have uncovered some truly exceptional new talent from the North of England, in particular Sarah and Conway who both have unique stories to tell that will resonate with audiences of both stage and screen."
Vicky Wharton, Executive Producer, Sky Studios


“I feel so honoured to have been part of the selection process for this award and so excited about Sarah and Conway. They both represent exactly why I think this award is important, in completely different ways. Their voices are so important and so underrepresented in the TV & theatre landscape. Both of them have so much talent, so much potential and so much to say that the world needs to hear! I can't wait to see what they both do.”
Temi Wilkey, Writer, actor and Screen/Play panellist