Comedian Jenny Eclair’s daughter has won a coveted award for playwriting.
Phoebe Eclair-Powell, 29, was given the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for her play, Shed: Exploded View at a ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
Described by the writer as an “explosion in action”, the play was inspired by Cornelia Parker’s art piece Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, which was made with the restored contents of a garden shed exploded by the British Army.
It spans 30 years and sees three couples navigate family life, complex relationships and loss.
Judge Bryony Shanahan, joint artistic director at the Royal Exchange Theatre, said when she read it, “it felt like a punch to the guts”.
Eclair-Powell, who also writes for Hollyoaks, won £16,000 and will work with the theatre’s creative team to develop the script.
Also announced at the ceremony were the winners of three prize categories: Akedah by Michael John O’Neill won the debut writer’s category, Original New Voice; Glee & Me by Stuart Slade was awarded the Judges Award; and New York-based writer Kimber Lee’s Untitled F*** Miss Sa*gon Play (Srsly This Is Not The Title) scooped the International Award.
The four winning plays were judged and chosen from a 15-strong shortlist of established, emerging and debut playwrights.
The judges also commended Dave Harris and Jody O’Neill for their plays, Tambo & Bones and Ballybaile respectively.
Judge Shanahan said: “This year’s Bruntwood shortlist was exceptional, the plays continually surprised us as judges both in subject matter and in form; they felt alive, contemporary and kept us debating for hours.
“Shed: Exploded View is ambitious, nuanced and goes right to the heart of the human experience.
“When I first read it, it felt like a punch to the guts – it is precise and considered, a beautiful tapestry of ideas meticulously woven together, but it is also astonishingly emotional.”