Skinners’ student Dara Hughes, 17, shortlisted for National Theatre’s playwriting competition

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A play by Dara Hughes, a 17-year-old student from The Skinners’ School in Tunbridge Wells, has been shortlisted for New Views, the National Theatre’s annual playwriting competition.

The contest, which is open to all 14-19 year olds, selected ten plays from over 300 entries this year, and Dara’s dramatic work, entitled ‘See You, Space Cowboy’, made the shortlist.

As a result, it will be read as part of the theatre’s annual festival this month.

See You, Space Cowboy was judged a worthy finalist by a prestigious panel of judges, who included National Theatre Senior Dramaturg Nina Steiger, playwright James Graham (This House, Quiz), actor Michael Balogun, who is currently performing in Rufus Norris’s production of Macbeth at the National Theatre, and National Theatre Connections Dramaturg Ola Animashawun.

Students who take part in the New Views competition have the opportunity to learn about playwriting from some of the most talented writers in the industry, and are encouraged to write 30-minute plays about issues they feel passionate about.

According to a New Views spokesperson, this year’s shortlisted plays ‘sensitively explore a broad range of contemporary issues, including immigration, sexuality, gender and mental health.

Ranging from monologues to multimedia-infused ensemble pieces, each play introduces a fresh, new and exciting voice’. And Dara’s dramatic offering was no different. He says: ‘I like to think of myself as a creative person, I have
always expressed myself through art and music, and as of the last three or so years, I have decided that drama, theatre and film are the medium I find most joy in developing.

‘When New Views came around, I was excited about the opportunity to further my writing skills with the help of a professional playwright.’

The winning play in this year’s New Views competition is by Alice Schofield from CAPA College in Wakefield. Her play will be given a full production at the National Theatre alongside rehearsed readings of nine other shortlisted
plays, all of which will be performed by professional actors.

James Graham, playwright and judge on this year’s panel, comments: ‘There are so many challenges facing young people’s access to the parts right now, so thank God something like National Theatre’s New Views exists.

‘Its encouragement and mentoring of school-age students to have the confidence to write a play is so important. I was taken aback by the talent and imagination, it was such a privilege to read a selection of them.’

Those successfully selected for the New Views shortlist follow an online course written by a respected playwright, and also participate in school workshops with professional writers.

They also have the opportunity to see NT Live broadcasts and productions at the NT, and to receive continuing professional development. In addition, they also receive guidance and support from the theatre’s learning department.
This year, the National Theatre has worked with over 65 schools nationwide as well as in a London Hub and a Partner Theatre programme at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

A rehearsed reading of See You, Space Cowboy will take place alongside other shortlisted finalists’ work on Friday, July 13 at the National Theatre’s Dorfman Theatre.

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