Isley is an American-born, London-based playwright and poet. They won the ‘Most Promising Playwright Award’ at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2023 for their play THE SWELL, which opened to great acclaim as part of Tom Littler’s first season at the Orange Tree Theatre and was also nominated for Best New Play, Best Director and Best Production at the 2023 Offies.
Isley is currently under commission to The Donmar, to Vicky Graham Productions, and is writing a new musical with Emmy The Great and Tom Hughes. Their play JOBSWORTH, a riotous, ferocious, and hilarious show about systems that are designed to screw you, and how to screw them right back, played at the 2023 VAULT Festival.
Praise for THE SWELL:
★★★★★ Lost in Theatreland – ‘The star of the show, however, without a doubt, is Lynn, whose understanding of people is unparalleled, and whose writing is funny, moving and gutting all by degrees. This is a name that will surely be at the forefront of new British theatre for many years’
★★★★ Evening Standard – ‘Isley Lynn’s characters are nuanced and beautifully drawn, and the play’s dialogue is gorgeously natural and flowing. […] Lynn’s writing is genuinely exciting’
★★★★ The Stage – ‘it’s not just a play that stands or falls on its plot twists. Instead, it’s the combination of super-smart structure and tender details – the macro and micro together – that underlines just how skilled a writer Lynn is.’
★★★★ The Guardian – ‘it is Lynn’s intricate stitching of three full, complex women that steer this epic’
★★★★ The Reviews Hub – ‘gripping and emotionally telling’
★★★★ The Arts Desk – ‘This is the best piece of new writing in London.’
★★★★ The Spy in the Stalls – ‘fiendishly clever piece of writing […] Lynn’s writing is deceptively artful and astute, crafty yet judiciously crafted.’
★★★★ The Artiscape
Theatre Vibe – ‘The Swell was shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Playwriting and viewing it you can see why.’
In October 2021, Isley’s acclaimed play ALBATROSS was remounted at the Playground Theatre in London. They also recently wrote one of 15 monologues performed in the Jermyne Street Theatre’s production 15 HEROINES. Another new work, REVOLUTIONS, is currently in development with support from Old Vic New Voices, the Michael Grandage Company and the Arcola Lab.
Their adaptation of WAR OF THE WORLDS in collaboration with Rhum And Clay enjoyed a completely sold out five week run at New Diorama Theatre in 2019 before running at the Edinburgh Festival. A further UK Tour is planned.
Isley’s play SKIN A CAT played at The Bunker as their premiere production in 2016. It was nominated for four Off West End Awards, including Best New Play. It was originally performed as part of the Vault Festival in London in January 2016, where it was described by Natasha Tripney, chief critic of The Stage, as a ‘brilliant, necessary and incredibly funny piece of writing’ and was awarded ‘Pick Of The Year’ by the festival. In 2018 the play went on tour, and included a run at the Edinburgh Festival. It was picked up by Playground Entertainment for TV adaptation.
Praise for TO SKIN A CAT:
‘This endearing drama…suggests its writer, Isley Lynn, could be rising star’ Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
★★★★ The Stage
★★★★ West End Wilma
★★★★★ Broadway Baby
★★★★★ London Theatre 1
★★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★★ Female Arts
‘Skin A Cat should be compulsory viewing for anyone under 25. Scratch that, it should be compulsory viewing for everyone’ A Younger Theatre
Their European debut SIE UND WIR (‘US & THEM’) was performed in German at Werk X, Vienna. Her play TOTTY, written for Paines Plough and Tamasha’s Come To Where I’m From: London, is available for free through the CTWIF app.
Their play BRIGHT NIGHTS was the 2014 Script6 winner at The Space. Her short play SLEIGHT OF HAND for BAREtruth Theatre’s Little Stitches was performed at Theatre503, Arcola theatre and Gate theatre in 2014.
They have also written two short films, Taketh and Struck, the latter of which premiered at the Sydney Film Festival and can be seen here:
Isley is a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme (2012), the Royal Court Invitation Studio Group (2013), the Soho Theatre Young Company from 2011-2012, and The Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writers’ Group. Their work has been supported by writing programmes at the National Theatre Studio and Cottesloe Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, the Tricycle, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Ovalhouse, the Peggy Ramsey Foundation, and the Orange Tree Theatre.
Isley’s monologue WHAT’S SO SPECIAL was performed as part of The Get Out at The Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. Isley received Special Commendation from the 2012 Soho Young Writers Award and won first place for two Editor’s Briefs (IdeasTap) with the poems Sweetbread and The body but hides the heart. Their critically acclaimed debut play LEAN enjoyed an extended run at the Tristan Bates Theatre (2013) and was performed in May 2015 by Theatre N16. They were named Champion of Literary Death Match at Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
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