Iman Qureshi’s The Funeral Director wins 10th Papatango Prize

Iman Qureshi’s play about a gay Muslim woman coming to terms with her identity has won the 10th annual Papatango New Writing Prize, and will receive a four-week run at the Southwark Playhouse in October.

Announced at a ceremony held at Shoreditch Town Hall, The Funeral Director came out on top against the four other shortlisted plays: Legacy by Benedict Lombe, Lunatic 19s by Tegan McLeod, The Gyre by Toby King and The Lash by Kenny Emson.

The Funeral Director follows Ayesha, the director of a Muslim funeral parlour who is married to Zeyd, although when one man enters the parlour to organise his boyfriend’s funeral, she is faced with a huge moral decision. The piece examines sexuality, gender and religion in the 21st century.

The prize includes publication with Nick Hern Books, a £6,000 commission and developmental support or a follow-up play, and 10% of the gross box office for the Southwark Playhouse run, which will be from 31st October to 24th November.

On winning the prize, Qureshi said: “I’m bursting with delight, and so grateful to Papatango for taking a leap of faith on a story so very close to my heart.

“When I wrote a play about a gay Muslim woman who runs a funeral home, I did worry that theatres would see it as 'too niche' to ever put in front of an audience. But we should never feel our stories don’t have value.

“Winning this prestigious national prize reaffirms the fact that even stories deeply rooted in a specific culture or community have the power to appeal to our shared humanity.”

George Turvey, artistic director of Papatango, which received a record 1,384 entries to this year’s competition, said Qureshi’s voice ‘really stood out at every stage of the judging process’.

The Funeral Director is at Southwark Playhouse from 31st October to 24th November

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