Edge Hill University graduate Ryan Leder, who completed his BA (Hons) Creative Writing degree this year, has been awarded the first Dame Janet Suzman Playwriting Prize.
His script for Numbered Days impressed the panel with its effective use of dialogue, tight structure and creative approach to topical issues of identity and sexuality. Numbered Days has since been performed at The Core at Corby Cube’s Launchpad Festival in Northamptonshire, where it received critical acclaim.
Ryan said: “Numbered Days has been a labour of love, albeit an incredibly challenging one. For that love to be repeatedly rewarded is humbling – beginning with an opportunity to produce the show in my home county, followed by an overwhelmingly positive audience and critical response, and finally receiving the enormous honour of being named the first winner of the Dame Janet Suzman Playwriting Prize.
“Edge Hill University has been extremely generous to me since the day I applied. For all the support, scholarships and opportunities it has given me, I owe it a great deal. Now, with this incredible prospect that the judging panel and Dame Janet herself have given me, I have the incentive and asset to advance my career further and do justice to this wonderful award.”
Dame Janet Suzman commented: “I am so delighted to have this first Playwriting Prize awarded to one who has gone through the mill of an initial production, and now on to the further development of his work. The pathway to a successful and creative life in the theatre is marked out and I wish him all the luck in the world for now and the future”.
The Dame Janet Suzman Student Playwriting Prize aims to recognise, nurture and develop students’ talents writing for the stage. Submissions had to be performable by four actors or fewer within a 45-60 minute duration. The Prize was open to Edge Hill University students on Creative Writing and Performing Arts students.
Ryan will receive a £1,000 prize, and the play will be produced and staged at the University’s Arts Centre. He will receive the award at the University’s Scholarships Evening in November.
Dame Janet Suzman – one of the most respected classical stage actresses of our time – participated in the judging alongside academic staff.
Dr John Cater, Vice-Chancellor at Edge Hill University said: “Dame Janet is one of the foremost Shakespearean actors of this or any generation. We are delighted to have her as an honorary graduate of the University and even more pleased that she has not only put her name to this incredibly prestigious prize but also been part of the judging panel, giving students the benefit of her wealth of experience.”
The University will also be awarding The Dame Janet Suzman Scholarship, worth £1,000, to the final year student of performing arts who achieves the highest marks.