Our unwritten heroes


Who wrote your favourite film? Can you name more than ten playwrights? Since the dawn of time, actors have literally stolen the limelight and directors have been worshipped for their bold, artistic endeavours. Now, I’m not here to trump their achievements. Their creative contributions to society are invaluable in their own right. However, they are the beneficiaries. Much like a house cannot stand without strong foundations, neither can a cast and crew without a stellar script.

It seems playwrights deserve to be applauded, just as much as their fellow content creators. After all, without their experiences, outlooks on life and bravery to choose to write their ideas down some of our most loved stories would cease to exist. A world without your favourite musical…no thank you. With the Olivier Awards closely approaching to celebrate the prior year’s recent theatrical triumphs, I thought I would shed some light and share the stories of playwrights who wrote the productions that are predicted to be nominated. Although no one will receive a Best Writing nomination, it doesn’t exist…

Playwrights deserve to be applauded, just as much as their fellow content creators

Susie Miller
An Australian-British playwright,Millers West End debut was Prima Facia. This play took the West End by storm, drowned in five-star reviews from multiple media platforms, and is now being transferred to Broadway. Her path into playwriting may not be the most obvious! Originally studying Immunology and Microbiology at Monash University and then studying law and working as a human rights lawyer, it was once Miller had started a family and decided to move to London that her writing career really took off. Having won the Kit Denton Fellowship award for writing with courage in 2008, Miller has established herself as a daring writer who has set the cast and crew of Prima Facia in a very strong position ahead of the Oliviers.

Mike Bartlett
Slightly more well-known, and extremely well-loved is British playwright Mike Bartlett. Having studied at English and Theatre Studies at Leeds University, his plays have been staged in the National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and multiple others. His first plays earn’t him the reputation as a ‘miniaturist’ as his plays focused on snapshots of contemporary life. That soon changed after his play Earthquakes hit the stage with a colossal cast of 80 – definitely not as small-scale as his previous work. His plays are always inventive and often combine theatrical
qualities that are unusual. The majority of his plays are still contemporary and are always extremely relevant. In the running for an Olivier award, this year is The 47th, which premiered at the Old Vic Theatre. Written in blank verse, it imagines a world with the attention surrounding who will become president after Joe Biden.

The first of his family to pursue being an artist, and as a result some of his earlier work was complicated for his family to understand

Jeremy O. Harris
Jeremy O. Harris is an American playwright who began life in a military family, which meant he moved about a lot. He studied towards a degree in acting at The Theatre School at DePaul University for a year until he was cut from the program. He then went to The Yale School of Drama where he received a Master of the Fine Arts in playwriting. O.Harris was the first of his family to pursue being an artist, and as a result some of his earlier work was complicated for his family to understand. His play Daddy, which debuted in the UK last February was written for his family. Encapsulating parts of his upbringing Daddy is sure to earn some nominations at this year’s Olivier awards.

Harvey Fierstein
An American actor, screenwriter and playwright Harvey Fierstein wrote the book for the hit musical Newsies, the run of which has been extended until July 2023 here in the UK. Growing up in New York a mum who was a school librarian and a dad who was a handkerchief manufacturer, Fierstein received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute in 1973. He was cast in Andy Warhol’s only play Pork, and has since appeared in other productions. You might recognise him from Mrs Doubtfire as the comedic and lovable brother to Robin Williams character, Daniel Hillard. Newsies premiered on Broadway in March 2012 and was nominated for multiple Tony awards including Best Book to recognise Fierstein’s contribution to its creation. The well-loved family musical has also been recorded and is available to watch to Disney Plus account-holders. Now in the UK, it is hoping to be nominated for multiple Olivier awards!

So, now you know the brains behind the operation. Without these geniuses putting pen to paper (or now perhaps fingers to keyboard), we could be a storyless society. These artists deserved endless thanks for their conceptions and for sharing the contents of their imagination. Be sure to catch the Olivier awards on 2 April on ITV and raise a glass to these incredible writers!

Image credit: Gwen King Via Unslash

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