The prestigious Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize today re-opens for submissions - ten months after it was forced to pause because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And once more, there’s a £10,000 prize up for grabs for aspiring writers.
The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize is the second largest national playwriting competition, jointly-run by Liverpool Hope University and Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre.
The rules are simple - writers must submit an original and unperformed script for a comedy play.
And after entries have been poured over by a panel of judges - which includes Moving On and Coronation Street actor Les Dennis - a sizeable prize of £10,000 will go to the playwright of the winning script, with a further cash prize available for other scripts that receive the judges’ commendations.
The final award ceremony will now take place in May 2022.
Meanwhile the opportunities for entrants don’t end there.
Since 2015, those recognised by the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize have gone on to have their plays commissioned at theatres and auditoriums across the UK.
Kevin Fearon, Executive Producer at Liverpool’s Royal Court and one of the Hope Prize judges, says he’s delighted to reignite the competition - with the Prize having been postponed in the May of 2020 because of uncertainty caused by the global pandemic.
Describing how the deadline for submissions is now June 31st 2021, he said: “We were all deeply saddened to have to put the brakes on the Hope Playwriting Prize in the spring of last year, particularly as we received so many submissions when we first opened the competition in the March of 2020, just before Covid-19 began to really hit home.
“But we’re thrilled to now be in a position where we can issue a renewed call for entries.
“We also anticipate that many writers will have used the lockdown to write new scripts or to hone existing ones. We could well be in for the most exciting year yet in terms of the plays we receive.”
Professor Gerald Pillay, Vice-Chancellor & Rector of Liverpool Hope University, said the University was committed to nurturing creative talent.
He added: “A great many things were placed on hold because of the Coronavirus pandemic - the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize being just one of them. But as we re-open this unique and wonderful competition, it’s an opportunity to look forward to the coming weeks and months with renewed optimism.
“Hope truly values its partnership with The Royal Court Theatre and, with the help of a stellar panel of judges, we will once again seek to unearth the next big talent in comedy playwriting.
“The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize also illustrates Hope’s continued commitment to the arts, and to the nurturing of creative talent.
“As previous Prize winners have shown, the rewards are not just monetary - the competition is also an invaluable opportunity for entrants to really showcase their work to the wider world.”
The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize isn’t just a one-off event, it’s a year-long celebration that includes student workshops, artistic masterclasses, judging panels and live performances - the dates of which will be announced in the coming weeks should social-distancing restrictions allow.
The Prize was last won in 2019 when primary school headteacher Colin Dowland, whose script ‘Headless’ is still in development with the Royal Court, walked away with the £10,000 cheque.
His play is set in a primary school on the morning of an Ofsted inspection. As chaos reigns, Dowland’s headteacher is found locked in the toilet, clutching a bottle of whiskey.
In 2017 writer and actor Simon Bradbury won with ‘The Last Act of Love of J B Moliere’ and the 2015 winner was Katie Mulgrew with ‘Omnibus’ - a year which also saw none other than world-famous actress, writer, producer and director Kathy Burke join the judging panel.
The year 2017 also saw Gerry Linford picking-up a highly commended award for his play ‘The Miracle of Great Homer Street’, and he has since gone on to write three new plays that have been produced by the Royal Court.
And in 2019, almost 200 scripts from across the UK were submitted for the prize.
The new judging panel for what will be the fourth Hope Playwriting Prize also includes Kevin Fearon (Liverpool’s Royal Court), John Bennett (Liverpool Hope University), and writer Maurice Bessman, alongside Kate Haldane (PBJ Management) and Kate Wasserberg (Artistic Director, Out of Joint).
** The deadline for entries is 31 June 2021. All reviewing and selection will be refereed anonymously. Entrants must be over the age of 18 and reside in either the UK or the Republic of Ireland. The winner and runner/s-up will be revealed at a ceremony, which will take place in May 2022.
For further details on how to apply: http://www.playwritingprize.com