England is home to the greatest playwright ever to live. While William Shakespeare remains unequalled more than four centuries after his death, The Bard himself might be proud of talent still emerging from “this Sceptered Isle” as modern British playwrights continue to produce works of stunning originality.
An example of Britain’s best over the past half-century is Caryl Churchill. She made her debut in 1958 when she was still a student at Lady Margaret Hall, a women’s college at Oxford University. A recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald called her, “Britain’s greatest poet and innovator of the contemporary stage.” Some critics name her best work is Top Girls (1983) which won the Obie Award. Other celebrated works include Cloud 9 (1979), Serious Money (1987) and Blue Heart (1997).
Nina Raine is an English playwright and the grandniece of famous Russian novelist Boris Pasternak. A graduate of Christ Church, Oxford, her first play, Rabbit, appeared at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London. It earned her the Evening Standard’s Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright. The Rabbit was performed on Broadway in New York City the following year. Her second play, Tribes, swiftly gained international attention and was produced in theatres around the world.
Debbie Tucker Green
British playwright Debbie Tucker Green requests that her name be displayed in lower-case letters. Her themes centre around racial perceptions in modern society. Her style is described as “feisty” and “emotionally fraught” with the “emotional depth of a full-length novel.” Among her most noted works is Stoning Mary (2005). Her break-out play was Born Bad which won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Newcomer play of 2004.
Bola Agbaje is a British-born playwright of Nigerian heritage. Her plays draw on her African roots to portray characters who are immersed in contemporary issues confronted by black people living in a white but increasingly diverse British society. Critics say her work puts forward an ethos and philosophy derived from Nigerian origins. Her debut play, Gone Too Far!, is currently being made into a feature film. Agbaje was named the recipient of the 2010 Women of the Future Award in the Field of Arts and Culture.