Glasgow duo win British Youth Music Theatre’s New Music Theatre Award

The British Youth Music Theatre (BYMT) has announced the winners of its prestigious New Music Theatre Award.

This year’s award has gone to Glasgow-based writers Bethany Tennick and Iona Ramsay with their innovative musical Welcome to Serene (The Town with the Machine).

Welcome to Serene tells the compelling story of a small coastal town constantly threatened by sand avalanches due to rising tides. In a bid for survival, the townspeople build stilted houses and create ‘The Machine’ to combat the sand encroachment. Inspired by a real town and its affluent residents’ efforts to protect their properties in North Carolina, the show uses surreal and absurd elements to reflect societal responses to existential threats.

The New Music Theatre Award, aimed at nurturing emerging talent in UK music theatre, offers a platform for young creators under 30 from the UK and Ireland. The award includes a full-scale production of the winning piece by BYMT’s young company, supporting the development of new voices that challenge and diversify the musical theatre landscape.

Previous winners include Jack Godfrey and Martha Geelan, creators of Babies, which recently played at the Lyric Theatre in the West End, and Lewis Cornay, whose Harry and Greta was staged last summer by BYMT. Welcome to Serene is set to be fully staged as part of the BYMT Summer Season 2024 at the New Wolsey Theater in Ipswich.

Iona Ramsay said: “I am honoured to have been chosen for the NMTA. As someone who grew up in youth theatre, I feel privileged to be creating something for an incredible and talented group of young artists. Bethany and I are so excited to see a fully realised production of our show, and for the process of bringing it to life.”

Bethany Tennick added: “I am over the moon to have been chosen for the NMTA with my collaborator Iona, and as an alumnus it feels like a proper full-circle moment!”

Chief Executive & Creative Director Emily Gray commented: “This process enables us to meet and work with composers and writers who are at the stage of developing their first full scale musical production. Our young people are hungry for epic stories with relevant themes that will inspire them, their audiences and the sector to question what a new musical can be. We are delighted to be working with Iona and Bethany and know they will ignite passion in our Young Company as they create a weird and wonderful community and question responses to climate change, capitalism and social contracts, through contemporary musical theatre storytelling.”

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About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.