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May Sumbwanyambe is a, librettist, radio dramatist, academic and award-winning playwright from Edinburgh.

Previous productions include; After Independence (Arcola Theatre, Papatango Theatre) The Parrot House (The Royal Opera House, Guildhall School of Music and Drama) ‘After Independence’ and ‘The Trial of Joseph Knight (BBC Radio 4).

His next stage play, 'Enough Of Him', will be produced by The National Theatre of Scotland in Autunm 2020. Touring to Pitlochry Festival Theatre, 16 October 2020 to 01 November 2020; Perth Theatre, 4 to 7 November 2020 (on sale 9 December 2019); and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 10 to 14 November 2020 (on sale 2020)


In 2016 May’s debut play was the winner of the Alfred Fagon Award, he has also won the BBC PAF’s £10k Legacy Award. He was the inaugural Papatango Resident Playwright and winner of the £10k BBC Performing Arts Fellowship. Other award recognition includes 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) and OffWestEnd’s Adopt a Playwright Award (2010 and 2009), The Old Vic 12 award (2016) Perfect Pitch £12k musical award (2016), IASH/Traverse Fellowship (2017,2018), Live Theatre/Northumbria University Writer in Residence (2018) and The Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship (2018). He also reached the final round of Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award (2011) and won the BBC’s inaugural Scriptroom competition (2012).

As an academic, May worked for The University of Edinburgh as a teaching fellow in Theatre (2018-2019), he has been an Associate Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University for 3 years and is also currently a Lecturer in Creative Writing and English at Northumbria University. In 2018 May was a contributing author to two theatre theory books, ‘How to be a Playwright, (Nick Hearn Books) and ‘Revolution: 50 Years of Making Political Theatre’ (Pluto Books Limited in partnership with Edge Hill University Press). May’s Undergrad degree was in law (LLB), He studied for his masters (MA) At Guildhall School of Musical and Drama in ‘Opera Making’, where he was also a Hedley Trust Scholar. He is currently the recipient of a full studentship from the University of York, where he is writing his PhD ‘Do black lives really matter?’, exploring the relationships between critical race theory, theatre, performance and production in Scotland through plays about black people in history.

Outside of academia, May has worked as a new writing tutor for over 10 years. Companies he has worked with include: The West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Bolton Octagon, Hull Truck Theatre, Traverse Theatre, Tron Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Papatango Theatre Company, Royal Opera House, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Scottish Opera, The National Theatre of Scotland, The Old Vic Theatre and more…

Education/Academic qualification

Music, MA

1 Jun 201731 Dec 2099

Award Date: 1 Jun 2017


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