The Aphra Award for Playwriting

This is a new award which has been  created to celebrate the incredible talent of emerging women playwrights working in the UK.

Although women buy two-thirds of theatre tickets and make up a large part of theatre-going audiences, theatre programmers today are still failing to include the work of women playwrights on an equal basis to that of their male counterparts. Those who commission plays also fail to give women an equal share of the commissions and this sex bias means that less than 30% of all plays produced in the UK are written by women. 

To raise the profile of women playwrights in the UK and build a strong list of female work, we are going to offer an award for an outstanding play by a woman playwright with less than 5 professional productions of her work. We intend to publish an anthology of  the shortlisted plays every year.  We are looking for partner theatres who may be interested in producing the winning play. We are currently planning the launch and raising funds for this important project.

Women  have been writing plays for over a thousand years across the world. In England,  The Rover, one of Charles II's favorite plays, was written by the prolific and successful Restoration playwright Aphra Behn.  Five hundred years ago, Aphra Behn was earning her living as a writer and the fact that her plays are still performed today is largely because they were published at the time.  Women playwrights are not a modern phenomenon. There are hundreds of female-authored plays,  both new and old, which can be performed today.

To go on our mailing list for news about The Aphra Award, or to volunteer to be part of the organizing team, contact

To learn more about plays by women from 1600 to 2000 buy a copy of Classic Plays by Women, ed.  Dr Susan Croft. (£16.99)

The inaugural prize will be awarded at a special event at the University of East Anglia in Spring 2021 as part of  their CW50  festival. The festival will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Creative Writing MA at UEA, the first  of its kind in the UK.  

aphra behn COLORISED.jpg

Patrons: Timberlake Wertenbaker

Winsome Pinnock