Characterised by critic Michael Billington of The Guardian as “a pioneering black playwright who opened the doors for his successors,” Mustapha Matura, who died in October 2019, was described by the New Statesman as “the most perceptive and humane of Black dramatists writing in Britain.”
After his London debut play at the ICA with Black Pieces in 1970, for the next forty years hardly a year went by without Mustapha’s work being seen in this country or internationally. His plays were staged at the Tricycle, Hampstead Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, the Bush, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh among many others as well as on BBC Radio and TV and on ITV. Internationally, his plays were produced at the Lincoln Center in New York, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and the Arena Stage in Washington, DC.
Play Mas, which opened at the Royal Court in 1974, made Mustapha the first Black British-based playwright to have a play in London’s West End; it won the Evening Standard Award for the most promising playwright. Many other awards followed.
In 1991 Matura was the first Caribbean playwright to be produced at the National Theatre with The Coup. Mustapha’s writing not only dealt with the issues of post- colonialism in his native Trinidad and the Caribbean and amongst the Windrush generation who came to Britain, but also led the way in exploring the challenges facing the second generation living in Britain in Welcome Home Jacko and television series No Problem!.
In recognition of Mustapha’s contribution to bringing the stories of the Caribbean diaspora to the stage and opening doors for successive Black British playwrights, he was awarded the Alfred Fagon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Writing in 2014.
The Alfred Fagon Award has been working with the Estate of Mustapha Matura to create a lasting legacy to Mustapha and we are delighted to announce an exciting new competition – the Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme. The competition is open to any new emerging, young black playwright of Caribbean and African descendant up to the age of 25 and includes a cash prize of £3,000 and a nine-month mentoring programme with a leading Black British playwright.
The establishment of the Mustapha Matura Award provides a final link in a chain which includes Roland Rees Bursary and Alfred Fagon Award. Roland Rees staged Mustapha’s very first plays and Mustapha encouraged Alfred Fagon to begin writing plays and helped to found the creation of the Alfred Fagon Award.
Mustapha’s wife Ingrid Selberg said, “Mustapha’s sudden death was a great loss and it is very important to us that Mustapha’s name is being carried forward in such a lasting and meaningful way and one that will provide opportunities to young, gifted black playwrights of the future. Mustapha loved working with and encouraging young people to achieve their dreams and he would be honoured and delighted by this Award.”
James St. Ville, Chair of the Trustees said, “The Alfred Fagon Award is proud to be launching the Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme as part of its 25th anniversary. It is important to keep what we do vital, accessible and relevant. This new award and its approach to building links in the theatre industry through mentoring is an expression of confidence in and support for the power of new and young writers. It is an important addition to all we are trying to do.”
Entries will open on Tuesday, 4th May and close on Friday, 30 July 2021. Full entry details will be on www.alfredfagonaward.co.uk on 4th May.
The winner of the award and mentoring programme will be announced by Ingrid Selberg, wife of the late Mustapha Matura, at The Alfred Fagon Award ceremony in November 2021.
The Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme is supported by the Estate of Mustapha Matura, Garrick Charitable Trust, The Henry & Mary Kent Trust and many individual donors.
The trustees of The Alfred Fagon Award are:
Yvonne Brewster OBE
James St Ville