Laura Waldren Wins 15th annual Papatango New Writing Prize with her winning play ‘Some Demon’ to be performed at the Arcola Theatre

Papatango today announces that Laura Waldren has won the 15thannual Papatango New Writing Prize for her first full-length play Some Demon, from 1,468 entries. Also announced today were the other shortlisted writers: Piers Blackfor My Dad Hunts BearsGeorgia Green for Private Adult ThingsYolanda Mercy for Handsworth Boys; and Hannah Shury -Smithfor Go Back Home!.

The winning play Some Demon explores life inside an eating disorder unit. It will have its world première at theArcola Theatre in summer 2024 – with full information to be announced at a later date– and will be published by Nick Hern Books. The four shortlisted writers will each receive £500 and their plays will be filmed as staged readings, digitally broadcast for a global network on The Playwright’s Laboratory.

In addition, to celebrate the 15thyear of the Prize, Papatango have partnered with Phil Temple at Birdie Pictures to launch an extra commission for one promising entrant, whose script missed out on the shortlist but whose talent and voice demand recognition.  This commission has been awarded to Josh Barrow, whose entry Sweet Heathens impressed the entire reading team. He will now receive£2,500 to write a 10 minute short film, which the company will co-produce with Birdie Picturesand release in 2024. The short film commission was made possible with support from the Genesis Foundation Prize.

Judged anonymously, the Papatango New Writing Prize was the UK’s first – and remains the only annual – opportunity guaranteeing a new writer a full production, publication by Nick Hern Books, a royalty of 8% of the box office, and a £7,000 commission with full developmental support. This Prize has recently expanded to support the shortlisted writers with a £500 fee and a streamed reading to promote their play worldwide, with the aim of securing full productions and new opportunities.

In addition, every entrant receives feedback on their script – a commitment made by no other company, especially significant as the Prize averages more submissions on a yearly basis than any other playwriting award.

Laura Waldren said today, “It’s a huge privilege — and a massive shock! — to have won. I entered the Prize hoping to get some feedback, and never expected in a million years this would happen. Eating disorders are still deeply misunderstood illnesses, and this has been a very difficult, personal but important play to write — I’m so honoured that Papatango have chosen to share it, especially given how hard it is right now for debut writers to get their work read, let alone produced.”

Papatango’s George Turvey and Chris Foxon added, “We are thrilled and privileged to realise the work of six such brilliant and distinctive writers, in stage, screen and digital forms – as well as to nurture the talent of 1,468 entrants, the quality of whose plays was unquestionably higher than ever. That the Prize has found a way to expand and showcase more new voices, despite being denied Arts Council England project funding after more than a decade of extraordinary subsidised success, is testament to its pivotal role opening pathways into theatre. It is more essential than ever in a context of massive cuts to programming and development.”

LAURA WALDRENis a writer and actor from Hull, and a current writer in residence for Pentabus Theatre. Some Demon is her first full-length play. Her debut screen work, This Is Hell, which she co-wrote and starred in, won the Pilot Light TV Festival and screened at the BAFTA and BIFA-qualifying Bolton International Film Festival. As an actor she recently appeared in the critically acclaimed second series of I Hate Suzie.

Other writers produced under the Prize include Dawn King, Dominic Mitchell, Iman Qureshi, Samuel Bailey, Tom Morton-Smith, Fiona Doyle, Matt Grinter, Luke Owen, Louise Monaghan, James Rushbrooke, Tajinder Singh Hayer, Tom Powell, Jaki McCarrick, Clive Judd, Igor Memic and Nkenna Akunna. Collectively, writers launched through the Prize have won Olivier, BAFTA, Critics’ Circle, The Times Breakthrough, OffWestEnd and RNT Foundation Awards, been nominated for the James Tait Black Drama Prize and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, premièred in over thirty countries worldwide, and gone on to work with many leading companies as well as in the West End.


The world premiere of the winner of the 2023 Papatango New Writing Prize


By Laura Waldren

Sam’s eighteen and her life’s about to start. Zoe’s forty-something and hers never did. They don’t have much in common. Just a love of 80s’ new wave, and an illness that wants them dead.

Thrown together in an eating disorder unit, their most intimate secrets exposed, they form a complicated bond. When another patient turns the ward into chaos, they face questions that dictate their survival. Most of all: how to navigate an institution that keeps you safe inside but unable to cope outside?

Grippingly authentic, incisively witty and profoundly compassionate, Laura Waldren’s remarkable debut won the Papatango New Writing Prize from 1,468 plays.



Piers Black is a writer and director as well as Artistic Director of Manchester-based Ransack Theatre. As a writer he has worked with the BBC, HighTide, Soho Theatre, Kiln Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre and HOME, as well as providing development assistance for Vicky Graham Productions, Red Production Company and SparkLab. He won the BBC Alfred Bradley Bursary Award for his play Human Resources, which was then selected for BBC Radio 4’s Drama of the Week. He was invited to take part in the BBC’s Northern Voices group and Soho Writers Lab. His recent play Catching Cometspremiered at Edinburgh Festival and then toured nationally. As a director he has worked at a number of theatres, including the National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Exchange Theatre, HOME, The Yard and Theatre503.


Georgia Green is an award-nominated director and writer from North London. As a writer she has previously been selected for the Emerging Writers’ Group at the Bush Theatre and the Introduction to Playwrighting Group at the Royal Court Theatre. Her play HOW TO KILL YOUR MOTHER was chosen from over 2000 submissions to feature in the Pint Sized Festival and was later adapted for radio. Her play FAT ELVIS was commissioned by the Yard Theatre off the back of their open submission window and was in the top 1% of submissions for BBC Writersroom. Her play PRIVATE ADULT THINGS was longlisted for the Verity Bargate Prize and shortlisted for the Papatango New Writing Prize. She is currently the Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio. As a director, her work includes The Get (BBC Radio 3), Ruckus (Southwark Playhouse/ Edinburgh Summerhall/UK tour 2023), Invisible (Bush Theatre/59E59 New York Transfer June ’23), OUTSIDE – Three new plays by Kalungi Ssebandeke, Sonali Bhattacharyya and Zoe Cooper (Orange Tree Theatre),  and The Mikvah Project (BBC Radio 4 and  Orange Tree Theatre, nominated for a Stage Award).


Yolanda Mercy is a BAFTA nominee and award-winning British Nigerian writer and performer. She began her practice in theatre with two solo shows, On the Edge of Meand Quarter Life Crisis, which were both presented at Soho Theatre alongside other venues across the UK and internationally.


Hannah Shury-Smith is a playwright and screenwriter. Her first full-length play Go Back Home! was awarded the 2022 Alfred Fagon Award, selected as one of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 37 Plays and has been commissioned for development under the Theatre Royal Haymarket Writer’s Award. It is an honour that Go Back Home! has also been shortlisted for the Papatango New Writing Prize. Hannah is an alumnus of the Royal Court Introduction to Playwriting Group 2022-3 and Talawa Young People’s Theatre 2021-2, and is currently being mentored by Inua Ellams under the 2022-3 Sky Arts RSL Writers Award for Playwriting. She has also recently received a seed commission by Talawa for her first radio play. As a screenwriter, Hannah is a graduate of the 2020-21 4Screenwriting scheme, on which she wrote her first TV pilot LIMBO.


Josh Barrow is a Geordie actor/writer based in London. He is the co-founder and Head of Literary Development for Gutter Street and has produced and edited four short fiction anthologies working with sixteen different writers. His own writing credits include High Riser (2021) and Nowhere Orange (2018) for Gutter Street, Festers Away (2016) for Alphabetti Theatre and Hangers (2015) at Newcastle Central Library. In 2017, he won TriForce’s Monologue Slam National Final with a self-penned piece. He also worked with the Royal Court on the ‘Writers of the Unexplored’ project developing work by writers on the autistic spectrum. More recently, his play Sweet Heathens was longlisted for the BOLD Playwrights Award and the Bruntwood Prize 2022.

Congrats to Laura and all of this year’s finalists. Well done to those who submitted their plays also.

To find out more about the Papatango Prize for Playwriting, visit here…

Some Demon will show next year at the Arcola Theatre.

Written by Theatrefullstop