Payne was a member of the Young Writers Programme at the Royal Court and made his debut at the Court in September 2010 with Wanderlust. His second play, Constellations, starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall, opened to critical acclaim in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in January 2012 and will transfer to the Duke of York's as part of the Royal Court's West End season.
He won the George Devine Award in 2009 with his play If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet. It was produced at the Bush Theatre in October 2009, directed by Josie Rourke, and will be produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York starting in August, with Jake Gyllenhaal starring.
The first Harold Pinter Playwright's Award was awarded in 2011 to Anders Lustgarten. It is now given annually by Harold Pinter's widow, Lady Antonia Fraser, to support a new commission at the Royal Court. There are no restrictions on the award and can be given to any playwright, from a first-time, unpublished writer to one already established.
Payne is currently under commission at the Donmar Warehouse, the Royal Court and Manhattan Theatre Club.
Payne said in a statement, "To be the recipient of this year's award is both thrilling and humbling. I am deeply grateful to [Royal Court artistic director] Dominic Cooke and Lady Antonia Fraser for their support; it means a great deal to me."