Cardiff’s pub theatre The Other Room has announced the winner of the Mari Izzard from Bridgend has been named as first winner of the Violet Burns Playwright Award, which aims to help discover and develop Welsh and Wales-based female playwrights.
Mari grew up in Bridgend, South Wales and then trained as an actor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she first started her writing journey as part of the training on the course. Since graduating she has worked as an actor for the National Theatre of Wales, Theatr Clwyd, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Regents Park Open Air Theatre – but most recently in the final series of S4C’s Gwaith/Cartref.
Mari was inspired to write again after the passing of Victoria Wood, one of her many idols. This slowly snowballed into gaining one of Theatr Clwyd and Paines Plough’s Writers in Residency positions as part of their TYFU/GROW scheme, where her confidence as a writer was nurtured further.
The Award gives Mari the opportunity to have her first play (which will be in the Welsh language) professionally produced at The Other Room. Mari said,“I am absolutely thrilled to be the winner of the Violet Burns Award. Having struggled with the written word (particularly the English language) in school due to dyslexia I never thought I would ever be able to call myself a writer. It is the opportunity and the support that comes with awards such as this that enables people like me to chase their dreams. Over the last few years I’ve worked on developing my skills as a writer and can’t thank those who have helped me along the way enough! It still hasn’t sunk in that I get to write a play for one of my favourite theatres in Cardiff – it is an absolute dream come true!”
Created in memory of Violet Burns by her family, the Award enables The Other Room to discover new and distinct female voices in Wales, offering the opportunities that Violet herself was not afforded – support, development, growth and a platform from which to be heard.
Dan Jones, Artistic Director of The Other Room, said, “Like many arts organisations, ensuring our art represents the community we serve is absolutely paramount. I know I’m not alone when I claim there is a worrying lack of female playwrights’ work being commissioned and produced here in Wales. The remedy for this needed to come fast and fiercely, which is why it gives me great pleasure to announce Mari Izzard as the winner of the Violet Burns Playwright Award. Mari sports a distinctly anarchic quality to her Welsh language writing that offers a flavour of dialogue that will no doubt set her apart from others. Already an emerging actor, she is brimming with passion, has the biggest heart and an exquisite candour. It’s going to be wild, so be sure to watch this space for further announcements.
“We have been blown away by the interest received. The award is a big part of our steadfast commitment to bringing to the fore unheard voices from across Wales, championing women in theatre to achieve their creative potential, and I have no doubt that the legacy of the award will extend way beyond Mari. I would like to thank and congratulate every applicant for their submission. The competition was fierce and we have a richer understanding of our Welsh-speaking female playwrights as a result. Thanks also to Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru for their generous support of the application and selection process. The final word however is reserved for Hayley Burns, daughter of Violet, and donor of the award, without whom this year’s award would not be possible. Hayley has made the most meaningful contribution to Mari’s career, The Other Room’s programme and the Welsh theatre ecology and we will be forever thankful. The commitment to local female playwrights, in both English and Welsh, will remain a fixture of our programming here in The Other Room, and we couldn’t be more excited.”
For more information about the award, please visit www.otherroomtheatre.com. To keep updated on The Other Room, you can also follow the team on Twitter @TORtheatre and Facebook www.facebook.com/otherroomtheatre