Six writers have been shortlisted for the third Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize.
Almost 200 writers submitted their comedy scripts to be in with a chance of winning £10,000 and the 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 will take place at Liverpool’s Royal Court on the evening of Monday 13th May.
The competition is a collaboration between Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre and Liverpool Hope University. A sizeable prize of £10,000 will be offered to the playwright of the winning script and Liverpool’s Royal Court will be considered for production by the theatre.
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.
Last year, writer and actor Simon Bradbury was announced as winner of The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize for his play The Last Act of Love of J B Moliere. The Royal Court is currently in discussions with a number of venues about producing the play.
Highly commended finalist Gerry Linford’s comedy play from 2017, now entitled The Miracle of Great Homer Street ran last year at the Royal Court starring one of the Playwriting Prize 2017 judges, comedian and actor Les Dennis. Gerry followed this up with his second play, Yellow Breck Road, running at the Royal Court earlier this year.
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.
The judging panel for 2019 was made up of highly respected writers, reviewers, producers and academics. The full panel was: John Bennett (senior lecturer in contemporary theatre), Maurice Bessman (playwright), Frank Cottrell Boyce (author and screenwriter), Les Dennis (actor and comedian), Kevin Fearon (producer), John Godber OBE (playwright), Catherine Jones (journalist and reviewer), Barbara Phillips (producer).
Submitted by writers across the UK, the scripts were reviewed anonymously by a panel of industry insiders before the shortlisted scripts were sent to the judges.
Royal Court Executive Producer Kevin Fearon said: “We have been delighted to be involved with the Playwriting Prize for the last five years. We have seen a huge number of entries for both of the previous competitions from all around the country and this year was no different. The Playwriting Prize has been a great way of finding new writing talent.”
Liverpool Hope University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerald Pillay said: "The continued success of this competition highlights a real wish among playwrights and audiences to see more comedies on stage.
"We are very pleased to be working closely again with Liverpool’s Royal Court and a fantastic panel of judges to unearth more exciting new writers.
"It also reiterates Liverpool Hope's commitment to the arts, and hopefully inspires our students to pursue their own creative talents even further."
The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize 2019 – The Shortlist
CUTTINGS by Oliver Clark, Berkshire
YouTuber turned model turned actor, Arthur Moses, accepts the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play, and moments later goes on to drunkenly deliver the most offensive, profanity laden and outrageous speech in the ceremony’s history. His three personal publicists must defend the indefensible and write a statement on his behalf, apologising and hoping for forgiveness from the public and his fans. Maybe. He’s still drunk.
Cuttings is a satirical look at public perceptions, fandom & fame and what it means to be ‘sorry’ in the twenty first century.
ON THE EDGE OF PARADISE by Mark Lee, Whiston
Five people wake up in a windowless house in an unknown location. A witty but cynical everyman, a woman in a loveless long-term relationship, a selfish fool, an elderly lady with no regrets and the personification of toxic masculinity find themselves trapped together, unable to recall what brought them there.
Quickly, they are subjected to a series of tests, questions they must answer, which force the characters to psychoanalyse themselves. If they do not answer the questions which are pushed beneath the door by their unknown host, dangerous things happen.
FUN RUN by Joe Graham, Oxfordshire
Sometimes charity not only has to be done... it has to be seen to be done. Libby has a new pet charity, set up in honour of husband Ed. She believes that, through her planned charity fun run, she could be finally launched into ‘Lenny Henry’ territory. Keen to show the world her supreme talent for charitable caring, she needs a campaign concept.
Relax, loosen your trainers and prepare to see the fun side of running for charity. If you like to run, like to watch others run, or if you were simply ‘born to run’…this is the one for you.
DOING WELL by Emily Jupp, London
Things start to go wrong when celebrity lifestyle blogger and YouTube star Lucy realises she’d rather stay in bed than write another blog post about 9 new ways with kale – and her sweet and simple boyfriend, Chad, suggests they should consolidate the power of their social media channels by getting married IRL (that’s internet-speak for ‘in real life’).
Worst of all, Lucy becomes suddenly and inexplicably allergic to avocados and starts to question whether there’s more to life than talking to her fans about the benefits of flax seeds and having the arse of an angel.
HEADLESS by Colin Dowland, London
It is the most difficult day in the life of a school. An Ofsted inspection is about to begin. In the headteacher’s office, there is one tiny glitch.
The head is missing. Found drunk, unconscious and locked in the toilet, the school is effectively ‘headless.’ With their reputations at stake and compromising revelations of a dominatrix, an illicit affair and a wayward gap student, the staff decide that the inspection must go ahead without him.
KONIGSBERG (a love story) by Anthony Green, Liverpool
Following the death of his beloved wife a grief-stricken, suicidal psychiatrist finds the will to live through the efforts of one of his patients, an Indian man, who’s under the delusion he’s Woody Allen.
As he helps his therapist cope with his existential crisis he also becomes romantically entangled with a woman who works at the psychiatric clinic. Surely there’s no way this unusual romance can blossom?
Image: The 2017 shortlist and judges.