The Alfred Fagon Awards have been working with the Estate of Mustapha Matura to create a lasting legacy to writing pioneer Mustapha who passed away in October 2019, announcing an exciting new competition – the Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme. Photo credit: Francine Lawrence
The competition is open to newly emerging and young black playwrights of Caribbean and African descendant up to the age of 25 and includes a cash prize of £3,000 and a 9 month mentoring programme with a leading Black British playwright.
Mustapha, the writer
Characterised by critic Michael Billington of The Guardian as “a pioneering black playwright who opened the doors for his successors,” Mustapha Matura, who died in October 2019, was described by the New Statesman as “the most perceptive and humane of Black dramatists writing in Britain.”
After his London debut play at the ICA with Black Pieces in 1970, for the next forty years hardly a year went by without Mustapha’s work being seen in this country or internationally. His plays were staged at the Tricycle, Hampstead Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, the Bush, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh among many others as well as on BBC Radio and TV and on ITV. Internationally, his plays were produced at the Lincoln Center in New York, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and the Arena Stage in Washington, DC.
Play Mas, which opened at the Royal Court in 1974, made Mustapha the first BLACK British -based playwright to have a play in London’s West End; it won the Evening Standard Award for the most promising playwright. Many other awards followed.
In 1991 Matura was the first Caribbean playwright to be produced at the National Theatre with The Coup. Mustapha’s writing not only dealt with the issues of post- colonialism in his native Trinidad and the Caribbean and amongst the Windrush generation who came to Britain, but also led the way in exploring the challenges facing the second generation living in Britain in Welcome Home Jacko and television series No Problem!.
The establishment of the Mustapha Matura Award provides a final link in a chain which includes Roland Rees Bursary and Alfred Fagon Award. Roland Rees staged Mustapha’s very first plays and Mustapha encouraged Alfred Fagon to begin writing plays and helped to found the creation of the Alfred Fagon Award.
Mustapha’s wife Ingrid Selberg said, “Mustapha’s sudden death was a great loss and it is very important to us that Mustapha’s name is being carried forward in such a lasting and meaningful way and one that will provide opportunities to young, gifted black playwrights of the future. Mustapha loved working with and encouraging young people to achieve their dreams and he would be honoured and delighted by this Award.”
James St. Ville, Chair of Trustees said, “The Alfred Fagon Award is proud to be launching the Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme as part of its 25th anniversary. It is important to keep what we do vital, accessible and relevant. This new award and its approach to building links in the theatre industry through mentoring is an expression of confidence in and support for the power of new and young writers. It is an important addition to all we are trying to do.”
Mustapha Matura website
Criteria for entry and eligibility
The competition is open to any new emerging young black playwright of Caribbean or African descent, resident in the UK, for the best original, new stage play in English. Entrants must confirm on their CV that that they are of African and Caribbean descent.
Entrants must be 25 years or under at the time of submission. The AFA reserves the right to disqualify any entry that does not meet the age criteria at the time of submission.
The play does not need to have been produced. However, if it has, only plays produced since August 2020 will be considered.
Each entrant can submit only one play. A play may also be nominated by a third party with the writer’s consent (e.g. via an agent).
Plays must be typed, full length and presented as double-spaced, single-sided, in Times New Roman, font 12pt and be a minimum of 40 pages and submitted as a .doc file or .pdf file (Word or PDF). Manuscripts cannot be altered after entry.
Television, radio plays and film scripts will not be considered.