Sarah Gordon wins this year’s Nick Darke Award with The Underdog

10 December 2020
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University news

Sarah Gordon was announced as the winner of the prestigious Nick Darke Award for her stage play script, The Underdog, at an online award ceremony held at Falmouth University on Thursday 19 November. The award received almost 1,000 entries, and a shortlist of eight scripts was judged by a panel of top industry professionals from the world of script, stage and screen: Jeremy Howe, Molly Dineen, Roger Michell, Gareth Farr and Nick Hern.

Jeremy Howe, editor of Radio 4’s The Archers represented the judging panel on the night, commenting on the high standard of submissions, giving concise and witty synopses of the shortlisters’ play scripts. On Sarah’s script he said: ‘I can only characterise this play as the Brontes meets Fleabag’ and ‘it is scabrous, rude, crude, in your face and enormous fun’.

Sarah said: “I’m utterly delighted to receive this recognition for The Underdog. It’s gifted me more time to dedicate to my writing and for that I will be forever grateful. To have been included in such an amazing pool of writers on the shortlist is a true honour. In what has been such a hard year for the arts, this award has become especially meaningful. To gather together virtually and hear everyone’s ideas was a galvanising reminder of the powerful and important stories we have to tell and I just can’t wait until we are all able to meet in person soon and continue to bring them to life”. 

Sarah is a graduate of the National Film and Television School and writes for both stage and screen. Her first play, The Edit, enjoyed a tour of the UK last year, before coming to Theatre 503, where it received 5* reviews. She is currently developing original series for Drama Republic and Sunny March.

The evening included an extract from Nick Darke’s play Landmarks and a tribute to Nick Darke’s life and work from film and theatre director, Roger Michell.

Callum Mitchell was announced as the winner of the new Nick Darke Cornish Talent Award by Laura Giles of Screen Cornwall. This new award of £1000, plus a short residency at Bill’s Attic at Krowji, is funded by Screen Cornwall and FEAST. It is distinct from the main award in that it will support a person rather than a specific project, and, in the spirit of Nick’s work, they must be writing about themes that are authentic and relevant to contemporary Cornwall. Three writers were put forward to be considered by a panel including Jane Darke, Rose Barnecut from FEAST and Nick Hern.

Callum said: “I am a huge admirer of Nick Darke’s work and can still remember the rush of excitement I felt upon first reading his plays as a teenager, and how important it was to know that there was someone out there creating brilliant, truthful work about Cornwall and achieving critical acclaim. I’m thrilled to receive this award in his name.”

The Nick Darke Award is a biennial award celebrating the best writing for stage, which was established in 2006 by Jane Darke. Jane works closely with Falmouth University on the award and has also generously donated an archive of Nick’s work which she continues to be closely involved with. The £6000 prize is funded by Falmouth University through the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) and the School of Communication. With the opportunity to win £6,000, this competition provides the time to write that financial support facilitates.

Discover the Nick Darke Awards

Watch the virtual awards ceremony.

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