Congratulations to Juliet Gilkes Romero and Kalungi Ssebandeke 2020 winners of the Alfred Fagon Award

The annual Alfred Fagon Awards like so many others this year took place online via YouTube and was hosted by the National Theatre. In its 24th year and in a year which has seen so many challenges, the award supported by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation, Roland Rees Estate, and individual donors, was introduced in a live-stream hosted by Mimi Findlay.

Juliet Gilkes Romero has been given the Alfred Fagon award for her play The Whip, an urgent and provocative new play the personal collides with the political to ask what is the right thing to do and how much must it cost? As morality and corruption clash in a world of men thirsty for power, two women forge an unlikely union and fight their way to the seat of political influence, challenging Members of Parliament who dare deny them their say.

The Whip will receive its online premiere in December 2020. Reuniting the original cast the new audio recording is commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and will be available on their YouTube channel from December 2020-March 2021.

The original stage production, which premiered in the Swan Theatre in 2019, ended unexpectedly earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the temporary closure of the Royal Shakespeare Company stages in March.

Winner, Juliet Gilkes Romero says “My mission is always to unravel what has lain untold and buried for political expediency. The unknown facts about emancipation and the transatlantic slave trade deserve to be re-examined and future generations have the right to debate how Britain’s collective colonial amnesia, shapes our current cultural reality. I am honoured to be awarded the Alfred Fagon prize for this work and I look forward to continuing its powerful legacy and the quest for Black British artistic freedom.”

This year’s recipient of the Roland Rees Bursary, named in honour of the co-founder of the Alfred Fagon Award and leading theatre director from the 1970s and 1980s, was writer Kalungi Ssebandeke. The bursary is awarded annually and enables writers to devote more time to their writing.

Kalungi is an actor/writer/musician and a recent acting graduate of the Guildhall School of Music Drama where he received the BAFTA Scholarship. His writing credits include rehearsed readings at Talawa, short plays at Kiln Theatre, Young Vic, and The Bush Theatre. His debut play Assata Taught Me received its world premiere at The Gate Theatre starring Adjoa Andoh in 2017. He is the inaugural recipient of The Bush Theatre’s Passing the Baton Commission and an Alfred Fagon longlisted writer. He is currently developing a new play produced by High Rise Avenue. He is also writing several feature-length plays and films, and series on spec as well as his debut novel. He recently directed his debut short film which he is currently editing.

Kalungi says of winning, “It [fills] me with great joy to be the recipient of the Roland Rees Bursary 2020. I have followed the Alfred Fagon Award for many years and was honoured to have my play ‘Assata Taught Me’ nominated for the Audience Award in 2017. Receiving this bursary means the world to me because it’s the much-needed lifeline I needed to move into 2021 as a freelance writer.”


The trustees of The Alfred Fagon Award are: Yvonne Brewster OBE Sheelagh Killeen-Rees James Olusola Oyeleye James St. Ville Brian Walters Hogan The founders of the Award are: Yvonne Brewster OBE Mustapha Matura Oscar James Sheelagh Killeen -Rees Roland Rees Paul Stephenson OBE