Stephens is perhaps best known for his stage adaptation of the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, for which he won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play.
A native of Stockport, Stephens has premiered many of his new works in Manchester, and now joins the acclaimed Manchester Writing School, headed by Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy. He will take a strategic lead on building new scriptwriting activities and courses at Manchester Metropolitan as part of his first academic post. He said: “To commit to rigorous creative work in Manchester at a time when it has just gained UNESCO City of Literature status and has the potential to surpass London as the creative capital of the country is quite thrilling.
“Manchester Metropolitan is a university of infectious intellectual breadth and energy. The potential for collaborative work with some of the leading teachers in the country inspires me. Manchester Writing School has an international reputation of the highest order. It is a privilege to join its staff.”
Stephens has staged close to three dozen plays over two decades, including the critically acclaimed Pornography (2007), Punk Rock (2009) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2012), which premiered at the National Theatre and later toured on the West End and Broadway. It went onto win seven Olivier awards, then the equal record for a single play.
Many recent works, including The Funfair (2015) and Fatherland (2017) have premiered in Manchester theatres. Stephens also currently works as Artistic Associate at the Lyric Theatre and Associate Playwright at the Royal Court. He said that he was looking forward to building strong relationships between Manchester Writing School, Manchester Theatre School, Manchester School of Art and the wider Arts and Humanities faculty.
I hope to work with students from Manchester and from throughout the world and, with them, to further interrogate the nature and form of contemporary playwriting in an atmosphere that will be lively, practical and alert
“Together, we can make a significant impact on the future of playwriting in Manchester and in the United Kingdom. I hope to work with students from Manchester and from throughout the world and, with them, to further interrogate the nature and form of contemporary playwriting in an atmosphere that will be lively, practical and alert. My strong relationships with theatres in that city and throughout the UK should render the teaching as practically engaged as any playwriting teaching in the country.”
Stephens joins another new appointment at Manchester Writing School in author Alex Wheatle, who will begin work in January as Lecturer in Creative Writing, specialising in Writing for Children and Young Adults.
Wheatle is the winner of the 2016 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and has been involved over many years in the Manchester Children’s Book Festival.
Dr Adam O’Riordan, Academic Director of Manchester Writing School said: ‘We’re delighted to have Simon join the Manchester Writing School. A globally significant and celebrated playwright, possessed of a remarkable breadth of talent, his appointment showcases the ambition we have to put stage and script writing at the very heart of the Manchester Writing School.’