Play by bestselling author wins drama prize

A science fiction drama about people who swap bodies to cheat death has won the James Tait Black Prize for Drama.

Photo from a performance of the play Tomorrow Comes Today

'Tomorrow Come Today' by Brooklyn-based playwright and bestselling sci-fi novelist, Gordon Dahlquist.

The winning play, which set against the backdrop of an impending apocalypse, was first produced by Undermain Theatre, Texas.

New category for drama

The prize was launched in 2012 when Britain’s oldest book awards, the James Tait Black Prizes, were extended to include a new category for drama.

It is presented by the University in association with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland and the Traverse Theatre.


International prize

The James Tait Black Prizes are distinguished in the way they are judged.

Each year, postgraduate students and academics from the University join together with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland and the Traverse Theatre to form the drama judging panel.

Judges award the prize to the best new play in English, Scots or Gaelic, which they consider demonstrates an original theatrical voice and makes a significant contribution to the art form.

The winning playwright travelled from the US to receive his £10,000 prize at an award ceremony in Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, presented by arts journalist Neil Cooper.

Extracts from the three shortlisted plays were performed by a professional cast of actors.

Winning drama

'Tomorrow Come Today' is set in the near future where the wealthy are able to prolong life by switching their bodies for newer, healthier ones.

The drama unfolds as central character Poul - played by three different actors as his brain is switched to new bodies - realises that time is running out on earth.

Strong shortlist

The other shortlisted plays are Rona Munro’s 'The James Plays' and Nick Payne’s 'Incognito'.

Rona Munro’s trilogy chart the lives and deaths of King James I, II and III of Scotland, who ruled the country throughout the fifteenth century.

'Incognito' by Nick Payne interweaves three stories, all focussing on neuroscience. First, the theft of Albert Einstein’s brain in 1955, on to a pioneering brain operation in 1953, and finally the focus shifts to a modern-day clinical neuroscientist.

All three shortlisted plays display striking and original talent and each has made a lasting impact in theatre – making it a very challenging job to select a winner. The engaging innovation of Gordon Dahlquist’s ominous science fiction drama stood out in the end, and we are delighted to celebrate his work at this evening’s event.

Greg Walker, Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English LiteratureChair of James Tait Black Judging Panel

Previous winners

Previous winners include Rory Mullarkey’s first full-length play, 'Cannibals' (2014) and Tim Price for his acclaimed drama 'The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning' (2013).

It with great pride that we at the Traverse once again host the prestigious James Tait Black Prize. As the home of new writing in Scotland and a venue recognised worldwide as being dedicated to world class new work, we share a deep affinity with the prize. In recognising original theatrical voices, the James Tait Black Award dovetails with the Traverse's dedication to bringing new and innovative artists to the world of theatre. We extend our warm congratulations to this year's winner and to all whose work was recognised on both the long and shortlist for the James Tait Black Prize.

Orla O LoughlinArtistic Director and Joint CEO of the Traverse Theatre