In the Netherlands and Flanders, playwrights are eligible to win several prizes every year. Although the major prizes are aimed at established writers, there are also prizes that award a substantial sum to novices on the writing scene. In this article, we guide you through all the possibilities for each level.
For the established playwright
First, there are the more well-known awards, which are often accompanied by an annual celebration. The best known is the Toneelschrijfprijs, which is awarded each year. The winner receives a sum of EUR 10,000, which gives the author the opportunity to further develop his or her writing. The award ceremony takes place alternately in Flanders and the Netherlands. The Toneelschrijfprijs stimulates Dutch-language playwriting and the performance of Dutch-language plays, including children's and youth theatre. The prize is awarded in September at the Flemish or Dutch Theatre Festival. Only texts that were performed for the first time in the previous season are eligible. The production of the play must have been performed in public at least five times by a professional company. A professional Dutch-Flemish jury evaluates the submitted texts and announces three or four nominations a few weeks before the award ceremony.
As part of the Dutch-German festival KAAS& KAPPES, the city of Duisburg awards the Dutch-German author's prize for youth and young people's theatre. The prize amounts to 7,500 euros and aims to promote dramatic literature for children and young people and to encourage young/professional authors and theatre makers to work for this target group. The competition also aims to stimulate exchanges between Dutch and German professional authors and creators of youth theatre in order to promote the growth of exciting, entertaining, surprising and substantive young people's theatre. Authors can submit their own plays for this award. The winners are chosen by a jury consisting of four Dutch and German authors, dramatists, media professionals and theatre practitioners. In addition to pieces by individual authors, plays created in a collective production process are also eligible.
The awards of the Royal Academy for Dutch Language and Literature, or KANTL for short, include both scientific and literary awards. The four literary prizes are for prose, performance texts, essays and poetry. Each year, one of these four prizes is awarded. The literary prizes amount to EUR 5,000 and reward original Dutch work. Each year, a five-member jury nominates a work from the previous year's production. The prizewinner is selected from the shortlist thus drawn up.
There is also the Boyer Trophy, named after Dutch writer, actress and founder of the platform for theatre authors, Marian Boyer. The Boyer Trophy is a prize that is awarded irregularly to someone who has played a significant role in Dutch playwriting. It is an initiative of the Platform for Playwrights, which was founded by Boyer, who died in 2013. The trophy takes the form of a lamp that had a central place in her house.
Finally, The Heijermans Fund regularly awards a stipend to a female author who has written a distinctive work of prose, poetry or theatre that is socially engaged and/or emancipatory. The award applies to all literary and non-literary genres within the Authors' Union. The prize is not age-limited and is open to both beginning and more established writers. The Heijermans Fund awards the prize on the recommendation of an expert jury.
For the beginning playwright
Besides the prize awarded by the Heijermans Fund, there are other prizes for which young or beginning playwrights are eligible. For example, there is Verse Tekst, the open submission round by Platform Playwrights for plays that have not yet been staged. A reading team reads all the plays and selects the most sensational texts.
The TheaterTekstTalent Stipendium is an award for playwrights, established by the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund. Every year, this foundation makes EUR 12,500 available to playwrights who are going to write a new play. In addition, EUR 22,500 is donated as a start-up contribution for the performance of the written piece and the production of the play. To be eligible as a writer, you are not allowed to already have public or private funding for your writing, you must have the Dutch or Belgian nationality and have lived in one of these two countries for at least three years. In addition, at least one and a maximum of eight plays by the writer are allowed to have been performed on the professional theatre circuit. In order to win, the play should appeal to broad and possibly new audiences and should deal with subjects that are relevant to mature audiences through their topicality, social engagement and/or broader reflection on the spirit of the times. The text must also present a 'new sound' with respect to the existing repertoire, either in terms of content or form. In order to be eligible for the TheaterTekstTalent stipend, writers have to submit their own text.
In addition, there are The Charlotte Köhler Prizes for Literature, Visual Arts and Architecture. These are incentive prizes for young talent (up to 35 years of age). The Charlotte Köhler Prize for Literature is a triennial award for an author who has written a high-quality literary work. Every three years, a different genre is eligible (prose, poetry or drama). To be eligible, the play must have had its first performance date in the three years preceding the year of the award ceremony. The prize, which is also an oeuvre award, is worth EUR 15,000.