The winner of the 2022 Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize has been awarded to Lawrence Quilty for his play Peter Byrne Is Standing Here.
Long-standing left-wing councillor Peter Byrne has been ousted in a local by-election. The time has come for him to leave the office and his only option is to step down gracefully. Well, the other option is barricade himself into the office armed with a pistol and start a revolution.
Originally from Oxford, the Cardiff-based writer has previously had work long-listed for Finborough Theatre's ETPEP Award 2020 and short-listed for The Other Room New Page 2020. He is a theatre administrator as well as a writer and this is the first major competition that he has won.
Lawrence was delighted to pick up the prize, saying: “I’ve written a couple of serious historical plays before this but nothing that has ever been produced. I’d not attempted comedy before because I don’t think that I’m funny but after this I have to accept that there is a possibility that I might be! I am so, so grateful to receive a prize of this significance with backing from a major producing house and a university. To be here at a proper event full of people showing incredible support for new writing is amazing. I feel very lucky to be a part of it.”
Nine writers were shortlisted for the fourth Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize. Writers submitted their comedy last year and one of the final nine will win £10,000 and a potential opportunity to bring their play to life on stage.
The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize is the second largest national playwriting competition and provides a great platform for new comedy plays and writers across the UK. To qualify for the prize, scripts must be original, unperformed and funny! The prize is awarded every two years and this year the ceremony took place at Liverpool’s Royal Court.
The competition is a collaboration between Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre and Liverpool Hope University. A sizeable prize of £10,000 is offered to the playwright of the winning script and Liverpool’s Royal Court will be considered for production by the theatre.
Liverpool Hope University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerald Pillay said: "The city of Liverpool has long been a hotbed of the creative and performing arts, and the Hope Playwriting Prize really taps into those collective talents.
“The University is proud to collaborate with Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre on this award, and it’s extremely exciting to see the competition now reach its final stage.
“I know the judging panel really had its work cut out to select just one winner.
“I’m also confident that the Hope Playwriting Prize will inspire our own students to pursue their creative ambitions, as we help to usher-in the next generation of theatrical artists.”
Since 2015, The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize success stories include winners and highly commended writers who go on to have their plays commissioned at theatres and auditoriums across the UK.
Highly commended finalist Gerry Linford’s comedy play from 2017, The Miracle of Great Homer Street ran in 2018 at the Royal Court starring one of the Playwriting Prize 2017 judges, comedian and actor Les Dennis. Gerry has since written four more plays with the latest, Macca & Beth, running at the Royal Court from 29 April to 28 May. This year’s presentation took place on the Macca & Beth stage set.
Comedian and writer Katie Mulgrew, the winner of the first Playwriting Prize in 2015, had her play ‘Omnibus’ commissioned in 2017 at The Unity Theatre, while plays by the runners-up for that same year ran at the Park Theatre in London and the Capstone Theatre in Liverpool.
Other past winners were Simon Bradbury (2017) and Colin Dowland (2019).
The judging panel for 2022 was made up of highly respected writers, agents, producers and academics. The full panel was: John Bennett (senior lecturer in contemporary theatre), Maurice Bessman (playwright), Laurence Clark (comedian and writer), Les Dennis (actor and comedian), Kevin Fearon (producer and writer), Kate Haldane (comedy agent), Barbara Phillips (producer).
Almost 200 scripts from across the UK were submitted for the prize and they were reviewed anonymously by a panel of industry insiders before the shortlisted scripts were sent to the judges.
Royal Court Executive Producer and competition judge, Kevin Fearon, commented: “The winning play was full of sharp dialogue with characters that jumped off the page. It is a razor-sharp political satire and it takes you to places that you don’t expect to go. After much deliberation, all of the judges agreed that it was a worthy winner.”