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Sarah Grochala - photo credit: Patrick Dodds.
Sarah Grochala - photo credit: Patrick Dodds.

‘Intelligence’ follows computing pioneer Ada Lovelace’s attempts to forge a career for herself as a serious scientist in 1840s London and being continually obstructed by men.

But in an unexpected twist of fate, Lovelace finds herself repeatedly reincarnated and gets the chance to try for fame again, first as Grace Hopper (creator of COBOL aka Common Business Orientated Language) in 1940s America, and then as Steve Jobs in 1980s Silicon Valley. Eventually, confronted with the destruction of all her work by a shady tech billionaire, she realises that it is the very nature of intelligence that she should be fighting for.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that 'Intelligence' has won the Women's Prize for Playwriting. Since this award started a few years back, it's one that I've been dreaming of winning," says Grochala.

As a woman, I still feel that we are unrepresented in theatre and in the wider media more generally. I really think it’s time that women had a chance to take centre stage and tell more of our stories in all their diversity and glory. And I feel that the Women’s Prize for Playwriting is playing a really important role in making that happen. You only have to look at the longlist to see the huge number of female playwrights writing brilliant plays that deserve a stage!

Sarah Grochala - Birmingham Alumna in Playwrighting Studies (2003).

Launched in 2019 and produced by Ellie Keel and Paines Plough, the Women’s prize for playwriting is the only national prize to champion and support playwrights who identify as female or non-binary.

This year’s competition received more than 1,000 entries, which were judged by a panel including the National Theatre director, Indhu Rubasingham; the playwrights April de Angelis and Chris Bush, the Guardian editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner; the journalist Samira Ahmed; the actor Noma Dumezweni, the literary agent Mel Kenyon; the journalist and critic Anya Ryan, and the head of play development at the National Theatre, Nina Steiger.

Grochala, a neurodiverse Anglo-Polish playwright, was awarded £12,000 in respect of an option for Ellie Keel Productions and Paines Plough to co-produce her play.

Ada Lovelace.
Ada Lovelace.

The real Ada Lovelace, who lived from 1815 to 1852, was an English mathematician and writer, known primarily for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation.