Longlist Announced For Popcorn Writing Award 2023

Karim Khan, winner of the 2022 popcorn writing award
Image credit: The Popcorn Group

The Popcorn Group and BBC Writersroom have announced the longlist for the Popcorn Writing Award 2023.

The award aims to champion new writing at Edinburgh Fringe that is entertaining, and provides a positive contribution to public debate.

20 plays have been longlisted for the award. These include Asexuality! The Musical, which follows asexual man Robert who is navigating a hypersexual world, and Mike Lemme’s Before The Drugs Kick In, which follows a 62-year-old in a mental health institution who wakes up to find they are a 28-year-old stand-up comedian.

Plays that deal with feminist issues are a key theme in this year’s longlist. Abby Vicky-Russell’s one woman show GUSH, which looks at how father and daughter relationships change following a rape, and waiting for a train at a bus stop by Mwansa Phiri follows Chilufya, who gets into a controlling relationship due to self-esteem struggles. Bitter Lemons follows a grieving goalkeeper and an investment banker who both fall pregnant unexpectedly, and Involuntary Momslaughter looks at how using humour and wisdom to survive narcissistic abuse can be therapeutic.

Her Green Hell by Emma Howlett, a monologue inspired by teenager Juliane Koepcke who survived a plane crash in 1971, and Subira Joy’s Kill The Cop Inside Your Head, which is an exploration of their experience of being targeted by the police as a Black, queer and trans person have also been included in the list, alongside Public – The Musical, which follows four strangers who are stuck in a gender-neutral public toilet; Lie Low, a dark comedy about a woman who is finding it difficult to sleep following a break-in at home; and Strategic Love Play, which examines modern romance.

The other nominees include Doug Deans’ 24, 23, 22; Ariella Como Stoian’s Hive; Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller’s In Everglade Studio; Sasha Wilson and Joseph Cullen’s The Brief Life & Mysterious Death Of Boris III, King of Bulgaria; Matthew Radway’s Super; Hannah Maxwell’s Nan, Me & Barbara Pravi; Martha Watson Allpress’ Lady Dealer; Sabrina Ali’s Dugsi Dayz; and Adam Sowter, Flo Poskitt and Ben Tansey’s Green Fingers.

Charlotte Colbert and Natalie Denton from Popcorn Group said: “The Fringe is one of the best events of the year. It is so wonderful to connect with the incredible talent who showcase their bold and fearless work there each year. The festival is a pure celebration of creativity and such a wonderful platform for new voices as well as audiences who always leave energised and inspired.”

The winners of this year’s Popcorn Writing Award will be announced at a ceremony in Edinburgh in the final week of August. Last year’s winner was Karim Khan, whose show Brown Boys Swim has transferred to London and is in development with Riz Ahmed’s LeftHanded Films.    

Words by Ellen Leslie

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