WICKED Young Writers’ Award

The smash hit West End musical WICKED launches a new educational award today (Monday 22 February 2010) to recognise excellence in writing, encourage creativity and help develop writing talent in young people nationwide. Spearheaded by bestselling author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, the WICKED Young Writers’ Award is the first of its kind to seek entries from young writers between 5 and 25 years old across all backgrounds and areas of the UK.

Michael Morpurgo will be joined on the judging panel by Gregory Maguire, author of the acclaimed novel that inspired the musical that re-imagines the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. Michael Morpurgo said: ‘I hope the award will bring the passion and energy of WICKED’s amazing theatrical show and its ability to reach across age-ranges and backgrounds, to young people and their writing. With the encouragement of their teachers and families and the excitement of this kind of challenge, we will see original and creative writing coming through from children of all backgrounds and abilities. Let’s hope that many, many young people will be encouraged to begin their own storytelling journeys’.

Entries for the WICKED Young Writers’ Award will be sought from children across the UK and Northern Ireland who will then be separated into four categories in between the ages of 5-16: 5-7, 8-10, 11-13 and 14-16. An individual Gregory Maguire Award for 17-25 year-olds will encourage writing that, in the same style as Gregory Maguire’s WICKED novels, takes a well-known story and examines it from a different perspective.

Young people can enter pieces either written at home or at school on a theme or subject of their choice. Schools will be encouraged to enter writing on behalf of their pupils through an online Teachers’ Resource and schools’ entry form. Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of WICKED, said in a statement: ‘Through sponsorship of a Young Writers’ Award, I am extremely keen to be able to link the production’s important messages of tolerance and unprejudiced thinking with a competition designed to stir the imaginations of young people across the country’

Twenty winners will be chosen from every category, with one overall winner then selected from each. All of the winners will be invited to a special autumn ceremony held at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, where WICKED is currently being performed. Each of the winning entries will then be published in an anthology celebrating the 2010 WICKED Young Writers’ Award. An overall winner from each of the categories will win tickets to see WICKED with their family and a writing master-class from one of the esteemed judges. The two schools that encourage the most entries will win books for their respective libraries. The final date for entries is Saturday 31 July 2010.

Schools and individuals can download entry forms and find tips on entering the WICKED Young Writers’ Award at www.wickedyoungwriters.com