May Sumbwanyambe

May Sumbwanyambe

Playwright, Librettist, Screenwriter

  • Location: Edinburgh
  • Career stage: Experienced
  • Freelancer: Available

In the summer of 2016 (May 4th – May 28th) my play AFTER INDEPENDENCE was produced by Papatango Theatre Company at the Arcola Theatre in London to critical acclaim.

“★★★★ May Sumbwanyambe’s notable debut play.” (Evening Standard) “★★★★ A debut of astonishing maturity…Sumbwanyambe is a rare discovery” (The Times) “★★★ ★ A strong debut...Passionate performances” (Plays To See) “★★★★ Beautifully crafted...Echoes of Chekhov” (Hackney Gazette) “Highly intelligent and thoughtful…A writer of terrific potential.” (Daily Telegraph) “A beautiful production of a promising debut” (The Stage) “Real eloquence and even-handedness…an insightful account of an impossible situation.” (WhatsOnStage) “A promising first play” (The Guardian) “Sparks of genius.” (Words of Color) “A gripping clash...Sumbwanyambe’s writing maintains a cracking pace…Plaudits to the Papatango Theatre Company for its role in finding the best and brightest new writing talent in the UK.” (One World) “Hugely impressive” (The Spectator) 

The play was published by Bloomsbury (Methuen) on May 5th 2016 it’s adaptation was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2017. It was named a BBC Radio 4 Pick of The Week. In July 2017 my debut opera The Parrot House was produced at the Barbican by Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.


In 2016 I was the winner of Alfred Fagon Audience Award. Other award recognition includes winning the the BBC PAF’s £10k Legacy Award (2015) and the £10k BBC Performing Arts Fellowship (2013), being shortlisted for the Channel 4/Oran Mor Comedy Drama Award (2012), the Papatango New Writing Prize (2012), the Alfred Fagon Award (2011, 2012, 2015), the BBC’S Alfred Bradley Award (2011) the Old Vic 12 award (2016), the Skyarts £30k Scholarship (2016) and OffWestEnd’s Adopt a Playwright Award (2010 and 2009). I also  reached the final round of Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award (2011) won the BBC’s inaugural Scriptroom competition (2012) and was named a finalist for the Perfect Pitch £12k
musical award (2016).

I currently work as a Peer Reviewer for Creative Scotland and am associate lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University. I did my bachelors degree in Law LLB and my masters in Opera Making and Writing.  I am currently writing new works for the National Theatre of Scotland, BBC Radio
4, Scottish Film Talent Network and Crabapple Film Company

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