Belfast Telegraph

Belfast-based play Cyprus Avenue wins top UK literary award

A Belfast-based play which explores the extremes of sectarianism in Northern Ireland has received one of the UK’s top literary awards.

Cyprus Avenue, written by Belfast playwright David Ireland, has been awarded the James Tait Black Prize for Drama.

The accolade, which is presented annually by the University of Edinburgh, was launched in 2012 and is part of Britain's oldest literary awards, the James Tait Black Prizes.

Cyprus Avenue centres on Eric Miller, a Belfast Loyalist who is convinced his new born grandchild is Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams which sees him agonise over his own sense of identity and masculinity.

The play premiered at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin before its run at the Royal Court in London in April and May 2016.

It was directed by the Royal Court’s Artistic Director, Vicky Featherstone.

Cyprus Avenue is the fifth play to win the £10,000 prize, after being picked from a shortlist which included Oil by Ella Hickson and Scenes from 68* Years by Hannah Khalil.

The drama prize is judged by emerging artists and established theatre experts and is awarded to the best new play in English, Scots or Gaelic which "demonstrates an original theatrical voice and makes a significant contribution to the art form".

Chair of the judging panel, Greg Walker, said: “This year’s shortlist was incredibly strong – each playwright dealt with difficult issues masterfully. Cyprus Avenue is a shocking and darkly humorous play that shakes audiences to their core. It reflects exactly what this award aims to celebrate – bold, inventive playwriting – and I am thrilled it won this year’s prize.”

Previous winners of the James Tait Black Prize for Drama include: Gary Owen’s one-woman monologue, Iphigenia in Splott (2016); Gordon Dahlquist’s sci-fi play Tomorrow Come Today; Rory Mullarkey’s Cannibals (2014) and Tim Price’s acclaimed drama The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning (2013).

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