TONIGHT marks the world premiere in Newcastle of a play which won a competition to discover new writing talent in the region.
Family drama Ersatz makes its debut at the People’s Theatre, which runs the competition in conjunction with New Writing North.
The biennial People’s Play Award is out to turn the spotlight on, and also develop, new writers for theatre and this year’s winner is retired English teacher Kevan Ogden.
Judges were impressed with Ersatz, his drama about a family coming to terms with the consequences of a violent crime, which will enjoy a week-long run at the theatre as part of the best new play award.
The story about grief, revenge and unravelling family ties, centres around Sheila Cartmell, who, suspended from the school where she works for attacking a pupil, is unable to slot back into her old life, despite the efforts of her husband and daughter.
Ogden, who has an MA in creative writing from Northumbria University, had initially focused on prose and poetry before deciding to try his hand at penning plays for the stage.
A member of Live Theatre’s Writers’ Group and a regular finalist in its Short Cuts competitions, he has also written What Makes Us What We Are, which is available on Kindle, and is working on both a piece for radio and another stage play, this one switching in time between 2012 and 1937.
Ogden’s award also brings him £2,000 prize money and sees him follow in some big footsteps, with previous winners of the award including Oscar-nominated writer Peter Straughan from Gateshead whose screenplay for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which he co-wrote with his late wife, won a Bafta last year.
Anne Cater, chairwoman of the theatre’s productions committee which helped choose a winner from more than 40 entries, said: “The diversity of scripts submitted was very impressive, the best of which reflect the high standards of dramatic writing and the thriving theatre culture in the North East at the moment.”
Ersatz by Kevan Ogden can be seen in the upstairs studio of the People’s Theatre in Stephenson Road, Newcastle, at 7.30pm nightly until Saturday. Visit www.peoplestheatre.co.uk or call 0191 265 5020.