• Georgia Tuohey

The 5 most interesting modern playwrights

Yeeeeees we all love the golden classics but it’s much more fun to move with the times and learn about new stories and adapt to new characters. Plays are open to different interpretations and that’s what makes them so amazing, the language. Below are five of the best of our modern playwrights here in Britain! Theatre has been a part of our social culture since forever, so I created a team of modern playwrights I reckon are the best of the best and should be on your radar.

I mean, what would our world be without art? What would our art be without the wonderful writers who create the stories we know and love? A grim place I’ll bet.

If you’re thinking of delving into the magical world of literature and playwriting the best place to start is by reading as much as you can get your hands on and then, sitting down and doing your writing thing! Who are your favourite modern playwrights? It would be great to hear about your ideas and why. Here are some of my fave modern playwrights….

  1. Caryl Churchill.

The brilliant Caryl Churchill was born in London, she grew up in the Lake District and then moved to Montreal with her family. She came back to the UK and studied English at Oxford where she wrote her first play, Downstairs. This play was first staged in the late fifties and it won Churchill an award at the Sunday Times National Union of Students Drama Festival.

Churchill was known for her radio plays for The BBC, some of which included The Ants (1962), Lovesick (1967) and Abortive (1971). Her radio play The Judge’s Wife became re worked for television by the BBC in 1972 and as well as this success, her first professional stage production Owners, premiered at the Royal Court Theatre that same year.

She became Resident Dramatist at The Royal Court where she spent a lot of time working with Joint Stock. During this period, she worked on Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (1976), Cloud Nine (1979), Fen (1983) and A Mouthful of Birds (1986). Her plays are still as relevant and fresh today, a highly recommended bunch of reads!

2. Mike Bartlett.

Mike Bartlett started his career studying English and Theatre Studies at The University of Leeds. Barlett is an award-winning playwright and some of his most recent works include: Snowflake (Old Fire Station, Oxford, 2018); Albion (Almeida Theatre, 2017); Wild (Hampstead Theatre, 2016); Game (Almeida Theatre, 2015); King Charles III (Almeida/West End/Broadway, 2014-15); An Intervention (Paines Plough/Watford Palace Theatre); Bull (Sheffield Theatres/Off-Broadway).

In 2011, he was the Writer-in-Residence at the National Theatre and the Pearson Playwright-in-Residence at the Royal Court Theatre in 2007. His brilliant play Cock, won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre in 2010. He also won the TMA Best new play Award in 2011 for his play, Love, Love, Love. Bartlett’s play Bull (which is one of my faves!) also won the same award.

He has written several plays for BBC Radio and some brilliant works for television including, Doctor Foster (2015 & 2017) which received several BAFTA nominations. I just recommend all of his work because he is one of my fave modern playwrights!

3. Lucy Prebble.

Lucy writes for theatre, TV games and film. She wrote the play The Sugar Syndrome, The Effect and ENRON about the corporate fraud. Lucy studied English at the University of Sheffield where she wrote a short play called Liquid, this won the PMA Most Promising Playwright Award.

In 2007, her first television series aired called Secret Diary of a Call Girl which starred Billie Piper. Her next project was ENRON, based on the financial scandal of the American energy company. The play earned Prebble an Olivier Award nomination for Best New Play. The play then transferred to Broadway in 2010 after it’s massive success in the UK.

4. Sarah Kane.

Kane’s plays are well known for dealing with themes of sexual desire, torture, physical and mental pain and death. Some of Kane’s plays explore the use of extremely violent action in stage performances. Sarah Kane’s work was said to have shocked audiences because they broke away from the conventional ways of naturalistic theatre. She was born in Essex and went to university in Bristol. She suffered with depression over the years whilst continuing to write. Her best works are Blasted (1996), 4.48 psychosis (2000), Cleansed (1999) and Crave (1998).

5. Jez Butterworth.

THE FERRYMAN. Loved it. Butterworth wrote The Ferryman and it had it’s world premiere in 2017. Butterworth was born in London, His brother Steve is a producer and brothers Tom and John-Henry are also writers. He went to school in St Albans and Cambridge. He also wrote a brilliant play called Jerusalem (2009) It opened at The Jerwood in The Royal Court in 2009, it also played on Broadway until 2011 after receiving rave reviews here in the UK. The play takes place on St George’s Day on the morning of the local country fair and the story surrounds character Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron and his troubles in the town as he navigates through drugs and alcohol. Mojo (1995) was his first play, a dark comedy set in Soho with a gangster lean.

These are just a small handful of the best modern playwrights, we are so lucky here in the UK to have an abundance of wonderful writers who produce some of our best known and favourite stories in the theatre and on screen. Some of the best (and most basic) advice I got at drama school, was to keep on reading, keep on finding new writers. Broadening your horizons and sparking your own inspiration can open up doors and create conversations that might have been shut off to you previously.

Who are your fave playwrights?


©2020 by Georgia Tuohey. Proudly created with