About May Sumbwanyambe
May Sumbwanyambe is a librettist, radio dramatist, academic and playwright from Edinburgh.
For National Theatre of Scotland: Ghost Light, (Edinburgh International Festival and National Theatre of Scotland), Joseph Knight, (BBC Scotland, National Theatre of Scotland)
Other work includes: After Independence (Arcola Theatre, Papatango Theatre) The Parrot House (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) ‘After Independence’ and ‘The Trial of Joseph Knight (BBC Radio 4).
He is currently writing new stage plays for The National Theatre of Scotland, the Citizens Theatre and Grid Iron Theatre Company/National Trust For Scotland, all are about the historical visibility of Black peoples in Scotland. He is also developing a new TV Series for Two Rivers Media/the BBC and a new radio play for BBC Radio 4.
In 2016 May’s debut play was the winner of the Alfred Fagon Audience Award, He was the inaugural Papatango Resident Playwright and winner of the £10k BBC Performing Arts Opera 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 was previously an Associate Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University for 3 years and is currently a Lecturer in Creative Writing and English at Northumbria University. 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 ‘A Practice-Based investigation into writing Post-Black History Plays’.
Outside of academia, May has worked as a new writing tutor for over 15 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…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).