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Julian Armistead wins Amnesty International UK and iceandfire Protect The Human playwriting competition

Oxford-based playwright and teacher Julian Armitstead has been announced as the winner of the second annual Protect the Human playwriting competition, which is part of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The announcement was made during an Amnesty Arts Fund event at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Centre.

Julian receives a prize of £3,000 and readings at venues across the UK on 10 December – the day in 1948 when world leaders adopted the UDHR, a vision which set out for the first time the fundamental rights and freedoms to which people everywhere are entitled.

Upon receiving the award, Julian said:

“I'm absolutely delighted. Winning a competition like this feels like a tremendous confirmation that the writing I'm doing, I should carry on doing. And since I've always been a fan of Amnesty and its work, for my play to be associated with their celebration of the UDHR is a real honour.”

A compelling new art installation by Peter Kennard and Jenny Mathews, called Declaration was also unveiled at the Amnesty Arts Fund event. Created for the UDHR anniversary, Declaration consists of floor-to-ceiling newsprint banners printed with the 30 articles of the UDHR. Tearing through the words are photos of the faces of people from all over the world who are struggling for their human rights.

Amnesty International UK Director, Kate Allen said:

“We’re delighted to be able to host this event on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Amnesty recognises the enormous role that the arts can play as art helps us tell the human stories behind the statistics. And conceptions like Declaration and dramatic productions such as Julian Armitstead’s play After the Accident illuminates the issues of human rights, and challenges audiences of all types and ages to take positive action.”

After The Accident was one of 125 plays submitted to the Amnesty International and iceandfire Protect the Human competition, which seeks to provide a high quality platform for dynamic and imaginative plays that communicate important human rights stories.

Submissions were received from across Europe, the USA and Africa with topics including the impact of domestic violence, sexual abuse in orphanages and the human cost of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The competition was judged by Chiwetel Ejiofor (actor), Dan Jones (Amnesty International UK), Sonja Linden and Sara Masters (iceandfire) and Esther Richardson (Soho Theatre). Julian’s play was selected from three finalists.

iceandfire's Co-Artistic Director Sara Masters said:

"The success of this year's competition demonstrated there is a widespread desire to create really excellent theatre that explores human rights issues. We were thrilled with the strength and quality of the scripts we received and hope that the competition can continue to encourage playwrights to make exciting and dynamic theatre that makes real and relevant human rights that are so important to us all."

After The Accident uses the restorative justice system to explore the concept of dignity and the duties that everyone has to their community. Leon steals a car which results in the death of six year old Charley. Four years later, as his parole is coming up, Leon meets with Petra and Jimmy, Charley’s parents.

Following a Classics degree, Julian Armitstead trained as an actor at the Welsh College of Music and Drama. In his late twenties he became a teacher of English and Drama, working in schools, adult education, and with people in prisons. His first professional stage production was The Name of the Son, directed by Caroline Hunt for Theatre West in 2006. Julian is also a passionate writer for young people, and has read and workshopped his stories in schools and libraries throughout Oxford.

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