The 2015 Wicked Young Writers’ Award today announced its winners during a ceremony involving 120 shortlisted finalists at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the multi award-winning classic musical Wicked.
Now in its fifth year, the award encourages young people aged 5–25 years old to use writing as a means of expressing themselves, celebrating the production’s themes and values of looking at life in a different way.
Each year, thousands of entries are received across five age categories, with the addition in 2015 of the Sugarscape Fan Fiction Award, a brand new category created by the entertainment website to celebrate the growing genre of fan fiction amongst young people.
The ceremony was hosted by Wicked stars Emma Hatton (Elphaba) and Savannah Stevenson,,(Glinda) with prizes presented by award judge Cressida Cowell, best-selling author of the How to Train Your Dragon series of books.
Cast members also performed songs from the hit musical, as well as readings of the winning entries, which were revealed as: Harry Sample (age six) from Cambridge for his story Wacky Tuesday; Kiersten Johnson (age ten) from London for her poem King Henry’s Wives; Anoushka Das (age 14) from Guildford, for her story The Orphanage; Aashna Nithianandan (age 17) from Wimbledon, London for her piece To My Future Daughter; and Luke Thomas (age 20) from London, winner of the Gregory Maguire Award for 18–25 year olds for The Starlight Staircase. The winner of the Sugarscape Fan Fiction Award was Evie Buller (age 14) from Northamptonshire, for The Hunger Games – Alternative Ending.
Author Sam Gayton, a former entrant of the award, led an interactive literacy workshop in which each finalist created a brand new piece of creative writing – a short story of just six words.
Amongst the 120 finalists this year are five children from Middlesbrough who have been shortlisted for the 5–7-age category. The five young wordsmiths sent in their own original stories after a special assembly at their school by local charity Iron Guidance in partnership with The Children’s University and arts and education company, Apollo Arts. Children were inspired by a live piano performance of one of the songs from the stage show Wicked.
Cressida Cowell said of the winners: “These stories and poems address vital concerns, the really big questions. War, mental illness, love and the forging of identity are just a few of the issues explored with clarity and imagination. As a judge, I was looking to be moved, amused, stimulated and entertained, and I was not disappointed.”
Wicked’s executive producer Michael McCabe commented: “This has been yet another incredible year for Wicked Young Writers’ Award and the quality of the writing has been genuinely inspiring. Now in its fifth year, we were delighted to see entries from previous winners and entrants as well as a host of exciting new writers aged from five to 25. It has been a pleasure to work with Cressida Cowell, who joined us this year as a judge, and we also welcomed a number of new partners such as The Children’s University and Centre for Literacy in Primary Education who have enabled us to broaden awareness of the award and generate even more young writers.”
Championed by Patron Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, judges also included Michael McCabe, executive producer of Wicked, Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, and Henry Smith, director of Lend Me Your Literacy.
Finalist entries for the 5–7, 8–10, 11–14 and 15–17 age categories are published in the special 2015 Wicked Young Writers’ Award Anthology. The 18–25 age category and the Sugarscape Fan Fiction finalists are both available as a downloadable PDF from the award website.
The award ceremony will raise funds for the National Literacy Trust.
* It was also announced today that Wicked is expanding its For Good programme – the philanthropic scheme to give back to the causes at the heart of the production – with five new charity partnerships: Anti-Bullying Alliance, Cybersmile, The Helen Bamber Foundation, Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity and Stonewall Education For All. These partnerships complement For Good’s two flagship events – the Wicked Young Writers’ Award and Wicked Day in association with The Woodland Trust.
The For Good programme will see the classic musical fundraise by creating For Good branded merchandise and introducing opt-in donations with profits going directly to the charity partners.
Specific activity with each charity will also include; co-delivery of a Wicked themed anti-bullying workshop run with the Anti-Bullying Alliance as part of Kids Week, supporting and promoting the tenth anniversary of the Helen Bamber Foundation on Human Rights Day in December, co-creation of resources with Stonewall to be distributed during Anti-Bullying Week, and supporting various events and campaigns like the recent Stop Cyberbullying Day for Cybersmile and Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity’s Big Hour Campaign in October. More information about the charities work can be found at www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/forgood.asp.
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