The Stewart Parker Trust, founded in 1988 to honour the work of the great Northern Irish playwright following his early death, has for over thirty years offered an independent bursary and mentoring scheme to some of Ireland’s most talented emerging playwrights. The moving force behind this vital initiative was John Fairleigh, for many years the Trust’s Honorary Director, who worked tirelessly to support new writing and young writers.

When John was obliged to step away from this immense workload, it became increasingly difficult to run the Trust, as it had been, on a voluntary basis. With the work of the Trust paused over the Covid period, we would like to make one final round of awards, outstanding from 2019, with the help of our partners in the Irish Theatre Institute and BBC Northern Ireland. The remaining activity is the mentored workshop week in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, which will be offered to short-listed candidates from 2019.

The plays short-listed for the 2019 Stewart Parker New Playwrights Bursary and the BBC Radio Award are In One Eye, Out the Other by Tadhg Hickey, The Harvest by Jane McCarthy, So, Where Do We Begin? by Seanan McDonnell and Crocodile Fever by Meghan Tyler.

The winners will be announced, along with the award for work in the Irish Language, on Thursday 20th October, the date of Stewart Parker’s birthday.

We would like to thank BBC Northern Ireland, in many ways Stewart Parker’s creative home, for its steadfast support since the Trust’s foundation; and are most grateful to the Arts Council of Ireland for its ongoing support. We look forward to engaging with both in finding a new identity and structure for this crucial endeavour.