The James Tait Black Prize is the UK’s oldest literary prize and expanded in 2012 to include a category for drama. 

Any original play written in English, Scots or Gaelic is eligible for the award. The judging panel includes students and academics from the University of Edinburgh, representatives from the Traverse Theatre, Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Schaubuhne Theatre, Berlin, and freelance theatre director Pooja Ghai. 

The winner of the award, who will receive a £10,000 prize, will be announced in September via an online film.

Greg Walker, Chair of the judging panel, commented, “This year’s astounding shortlist works with timely themes in exciting and fresh new ways. This year we had our highest number of entries for the Prize, and they showed exciting diversity of form and writing. When considering the award, we ask our judges to nominate dramas that make them look at life a little differently, and this year’s James Tait Black nominees more than fit the bill in this challenging year.”

Of the more than 80 worldwide entries received this year, this year’s shortlist has been narrowed down to three plays – all by female playwrights. These include [BLANK] by award-winning playwright Alice Birch, a mosaic of 60 unrelated scenes telling the stories of adults and children caught up in the criminal justice system. Yasmin Joseph’s debut play ‘J’Ouvert’, a play set during Notting Hill Carnival that explores the battle to preserve tradition in a society where women’s bodies are frequently under threat; and Jasmine Lee-Jones’ debut play ‘seven methods of killing kylie jenner’, an exploration of cultural appropriation, queerness, friendship and the ownership of Black bodies both online and in real life.

Find out more about the James Tait Black Prize and the nominees for this year’s shortlist here.