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Box of Tricks and Sky Studios are on the hunt for Northern talent. Our inaugural Screen/Play Award launches to unearth two writers from the North of England with electrifying stories that spark the imagination.

Each writer will be awarded a bursary to write a brand new play and a short screenplay – inspired by a single central idea – to be developed with Box of Tricks and Sky Studios’ Innovation Hub throughout 2021. We’re looking for stories with the scope and ambition to be realised on both stage and screen, stories that embrace the infinite imaginative possibilities of each medium and reflect the world in which we live.

At a time when our industry faces the greatest crisis of a generation and stands to lose a wealth of talent, Screen/Play shines a light on voices that need to be heard and stories that need to be told. We want to champion Northern writers with no professional TV experience from communities currently underrepresented on stage and screen.

So if you’ve got a story to tell, we want to hear it.


Screen/Play Programme


How do I apply?

Apply with a one-page pitch (up to 500 words), a personal statement (up to 500 words) and an example script (up to 30 pages) through the online Application Form during the three-week submission window from Monday 19 October – Friday 6 November 2020.

What happens next?

Following the reading process by a diverse pool of readers representative of the voices we want to champion, a shortlist of 15 writers will be announced in December 2020.

Following a second selection process, 5 finalists will then be announced in January 2021 and meet our Panel to pitch their idea via Zoom.

After online interviews, our two Screen/Play writers will be selected by our industry panel and announced in early 2021.

What is the Programme?

Each writer will receive £10,250 each with an exclusive option for Box of Tricks to produce the stage play in a future season.

Supported by Box of Tricks and Sky Studios’ Innovation Hub, our two writers will write and develop a first draft of a 70-minute stage play and a 20-minute screenplay throughout 2021, culminating in a table read/rehearsed reading.

All 15 shortlisted writers will be invited to take part in exclusive online Masterclasses exploring their craft and the world of screenwriting with industry experts.

All 5 finalists will meet with Box of Tricks and Sky Studios to discuss their ongoing development and future relationship.

Any questions? Please read our Fact Sheet.


Download here


Award Criteria

A cornerstone of Box of Tricks' Positive Action plan, Screen/Play is open to Northern writers with no professional TV experience with the explicit aim to increase representation and opportunity now and in the future.

Applicants must meet the following Criteria:

1. Writers must be aged 18 or over. There is no upper age limit.

2. Writers must be resident in the North of England. If not currently resident, writers must be able to demonstrate strong links to the North and a commitment to making work in the region.

3. Writers must have no professional screenwriting experience. That is, writers must have never been paid to write for television/film. 

4. Writers must be from a community currently underrepresented on stage and screen:

D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers
LGBTQ+ writers
Writers of colour
First generation migrant writers

⇥ Writers from a low socioeconomic background

For full details of Eligibility Criteria and definitions,
check out our Fact Sheet. 

⤓ Download here ⤓


Meet the Panel

Introducing our industry panel who will meet our finalists and select our two Screen/Play Award writers...

Mina Anwar

Mina is an acclaimed Northern actor who made her TV debut in the popular Ben Elton sitcom, The Thin Blue Line. She has extensive screen credits including Shameless, Coronation Street, Doctor Who and The Worst Witch. Her recent stage appearances include: Twelfth Night (Royal Exchange), Shirley Valentine (Bolton Octagon) and The Life of Pi (Sheffield Crucible); in 2017 she originated the role of Ray in the award-winning musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Sheffield Crucible/West End).

Chris Bush

Chris is an award-winning playwright, lyricist, and an Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres. Recent work includes Faustus: That Damned Woman (Headlong/Lyric Hammersmith and tour), Standing at the Sky's Edge (Crucible Theatre, Best Musical: UK Theatre Awards 2019), The Assassination of Katie Hopkins (Theatr Clwyd, Best Musical: UK Theatre Awards 2018), Pericles (National Theatre: Olivier), The Changing Room (NT Connections), The Last Noel (Attic Theatre) and Steel (Crucible Theatre Studio). She also teaches playwriting for the National Theatre and University of York, and mentors writers on English Touring Theatre's Nationwide Voices scheme.

Melissa Johns

Melissa is a disabled actor and theatremaker best known for playing Imogen Pascoe in Coronation Street, alongside other recent screen roles including Life, I Hate Suzie and Silk. She has appeared onstage in Othello/Macbeth at HOME and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at Sheffield Crucible. A passionate advocate for the inclusivity of disabled people in the arts, Melissa is co-Artistic Director of TripleC and co-creator of DANC (Disabled Artists Networking Community) a solution-focussed initiative working to increase the representation and employment of disabled creatives.

David Judge

Actor and Writer
David is a playwright, performance poet and actor. His play SparkPlug, a finalist for the Alfred Fagon Best New Play of the Year Award, explored family, race and identity and toured the UK with Box of Tricks in Spring 2019. He is commissioned to write a new play by National Theatre Connections. His first play skipping rope was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award and Panlid was commissioned by Talawa and the Royal Exchange.

Temi Wilkey

Actor and Writer
Temi is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and actor. Her theatre credits include the National, the RSC and the Manchester Royal Exchange. Her debut play, The High Table, was produced at the Bush Theatre and won Temi the Stage Debut Award for Best Writer in 2020. Temi is writing an episode for Season 3 of Netflix's Sex Education and is developing her first original pilot for television on the Dancing Ledge Bursary scheme under the mentorship of Lucy Prebble.


Donna Metcalfe

Script Executive, Sky Studios
Donna joined the Sky Studios Drama Team in November 2019 as Script Executive for the Innovation Hub, based in Leeds. Prior to this, Donna has worked as Script Producer and Script Editor for ITV Emmerdale, Script Editor of Cold Feet (series eight), and script edited series one and two of CBBC’s adaptation of Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch.

Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder

Joint Artistic Director, Box of Tricks
Hannah is Joint Artistic Director and co-founder of Box of Tricks. Her recent productions for the company include SparkPlug by David Judge (finalist for Alfred Fagon Award Best New Play) and Narvik by Lizzie Nunnery (winner of Best New Play at UK Theatre Awards).

Based in Manchester, Box of Tricks makes plays. We champion playwrights and empower them to tell the stories they want to tell. Together, we go on a journey to uncover new plays that reflect the world in which we live today. We create heartfelt theatre that resonates, inspires and entertains. New plays are the lifeblood of theatre and playwrights its beating heart. We are the play makers. Every story told. Every voice heard.

Based out of Leeds, Sky Studios' Innovation Hub focusses on the development of talent, scripted partnerships and new content experiences. The Innovation Hub builds on Sky’s existing track-record of finding and encouraging fresh, diverse talent to create new, original drama, comedy and scripted ideas for Sky and its customers. The Hub also explores the interplay between innovative technology and storytelling to bring viewers new entertainment experiences.