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Charlotte Colbert - Popcorn Writing Award Interview

Submissions for the Popcorn Writing Award, run by the Popcorn Group in partnership with BBC Writers, are now open for 2024. This one-of-a-kind award has a prize fund of £6,000 which goes directly to the writers. Championing brave and imaginative writing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, playwrights can submit their plays until 10am on 21st June 2024.

Set up in 2019 by the Popcorn Group, a film and theatre production company, the Popcorn Writing Award celebrates fearless work which playfully and artistically addresses current affairs, questions societal trends, and contributes positively to public debate.

To be considered, plays must be a new piece of writing that has not had more than seven performances in advance of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe and must be staged at one of the award’s partner venues.

Past winners include Bryony Kimmings who went on to pen Last Christmas with Emma Thompson, Karim Khan now in writers’ rooms with Riz Ahmed, and Sabrina Ali who won last year with her play Dugsi Dayz.

We chatted to Charlotte Colbert, founder of the award, to learn more.

Where did your arts career begin?
It's weird.. I really wanted to make films and direct but I didn’t really know anything about that worldso after being a runner, reader and production assistant on set I thought it would probably be good to write stories. I got quite a lot of work as a screenwriter working with Olivier Dahan (La Vie En Rose), Eric Cantona, Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing) etc but I found all the sitting down drove me a little crazy. So,I chronicled that madness in a series of photographs called A Day At Home. They were picked up by a gallery and so I started having this double practice. My desire to build worlds led me to make more props for the imagery which the gallery asked me to show as sculptures in the space and so I started making static pictures and objects as well as films. 

What can you tell me about the Popcorn Writing Awards?
The Popcorn Writing Award is the only award of its kind; an accolade that specifically celebrates new writing at the Edinburgh Fringe, with the prize fund going directly to the writer. The award champions brave and imaginative writing,which playfully and artistically questions and addresses current affairs and societal trends and contributes positively to public debate.

The award was set up in 2019 and past winners include Bryony Kimmings who went on to pen Last Christmas with Emma Thompson, Karim Khan now in writers’ rooms with Riz Ahmed, and Sabrina Ali whose winning play Dugsi Dayszhas just enjoyed a run at the Royal Court.

Since 2022 we have delivered the award in partnership with the wonderful BBC Writers spearheaded by the amazing Jessica Loveland - it has been such a joy to work with their team to select a diverse and prominent panel to evaluate the award submissions.

To facilitate the award, we work with partnering venues that include Assembly Festival, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance, Summerhall, Traverse Theatre, Underbelly, Greenside Venues, ZOO Venues and theSpaceUK.

All plays are eligible provided they are:
1) A new piece of writing which has not had a significant run (no more than 7 performances) before the 2024 Edinburgh Fringe.
2) A piece being staged during the Fringe at one of the partnering venues listed above

How did you become on board with the award?
I founded Popcorn Group and set up the Popcorn Writing award. It was born out of the amazing festival that is the Edinburgh Fringe. An endlessly inspiring, creative, imaginative and inclusive festival which is all about new writing, taking risks, being bold and being able to fail.

What advice would you give to someone writing a piece?
Keep writing! Don't take no for an answer. 

What do you look for in a piece to make it award worthy?
With the incredible team at BBC Writers we look for writing that adds something new to the conversation, that gives a platform to a fresh set of questions or an alternative format. We want to select plays that leave us thinking about their provocations well after the time when we have put them down, that entertains and makes us think. We want to award writing that truly stands for something and has the courage to say so.

What keeps you inspired?
Stories in all shapes and sizes at street corners and pubs, in cinemas and theatres, whispered in someone’s ear and the Edinburgh Fringe of course! 

How can someone submit a piece?
To be considered, writers must send their piece of new writing, a 10-15 word tagline, and a 50-word summary of their play to the programming team at their respective venue (Assembly Festival, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance, Summerhall, Traverse Theatre, Underbelly, Greenside Venues, ZOO Venues or theSpaceUK) with “Popcorn Writing Award 2024 // Title of Play // Writer’s Name // Venue Associated” in the subject heading.
The deadline for submissions is 10am on June 21st.

You can find out more at

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