Nathan Queeley-Dennis’s first play, Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz, which focusses on a man’s relationship with his barber, has been named the overall winner of the 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.
The prize – which seeks scripts from established, emerging and debut writers to develop for the stage – is a partnership between leading commercial property developer Bruntwood, a major supporter of the arts, and world-class producing theatre, the Royal Exchange Theatre, in Manchester.
Born and raised in Erdington, Birmingham, Nathan Queeley-Dennis is an actor whose credits include Black Love (Kiln Theatre) written by Chinonyerem Odimba, Really Big and Really Loud (Paines Plough) written by 2019 Bruntwood Prize winner Phoebe Eclair-Powell and Bijan Sheibanis production of A Taste of Honey (National Theatre).
Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz follows the fictional Nathaniel, a young man approaching what appears to be his quarter life crisis as his student dream of being a ‘hybrid, edgy, sexy kind of brum town Basquiat with a garnish of Banksy and national treasure potential of David Hockney’ start to evaporate in the grim reality of his mounting debts and post-university call centre job. Described by the judges as ‘a
joyful galloping hymn to Black friendship and love and tender masculinity’ (Julie Hesmondhalgh), a ‘vibrant, laugh-out-loud, and ultimately moving tribute to being young and on the rise in Birmingham’ (Kimber Lee) and for bringing ‘Black Joy in abundance’ (Amanda Parker), the play follows Nathaniel on a journey of self-discovery as he explores Black masculinity through Beyoncé lyrics, techno raves and the
deeply intimate relationship a man has with his barber.
When he was shortlisted for the prize in October 2022, Queeley-Dennis said he wanted to share ‘a story to the country and world that I think is very rarely shown, but is so prominent in making me and the people I grew up with who we are.’
Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz was selected from a shortlist of nine plays from the UK in the running for two categories: overall winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting (£16,000) and the Judges Award (£8,000) for a ‘runner up’.
Amanda Parker, Chair of the 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Judging Panel, said: “The Bruntwood Prize, yet again delivered plays that speak to the urgent issues of our times, in ways that are unexpected, fresh, thrilling and compelling. The judging panel would like to thank all who entered the competition and congratulate the shortlisted 14 whose creative energies gave us such a rich feast of imagining.
“Through tough debate – because all were excellent – and deep reflection, because we felt passionately about all of them – we landed on the winning entries. Our winners offered us challenge, a new lens on universal concerns, made us laugh at the dizzying truth of the worlds they created, and weep in sympathy with the horrors portrayed. Thank you to Bruntwood, to the entrants, to the winners. We can’t wait to see these words come to life on our stages!”
Roy Alexander Weise, Joint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre and judge for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, added: “The Prize is such a vital snapshot of the nation’s story. The plays: a cross-section of ideas and visions from all over the country and parts of the world. As readers and judges, we’ve learnt so much about the states of various wide-ranging worlds and perspectives. In all the stories a longing: for better, for more, for space, for revolution, for love, for peace – cries that echo across the planet. Six hours of debate lead us to a pin-droppingly silent democratic voting process led delicately and fairly by Chair of the Judges, Amanda Parker. We all left the room pleased and