It was a tight squeeze at the offices of the Liverpool Royal Court – as the theatre took delivery of 200 scripts entered to the Liverpool Hope University Playwriting Prize.
The winning writer will receive £10,000 and have their work considered for production at the Liverpool Royal Court. The prize, open to both new and established playwrights, aims to recognise and develop new theatre talent and further strengthen the city’s reputation for culture and comedy.
A team of expert readers are currently working their way through the scripts before revealing a shortlist. Extracts from the shortlisted scripts will be staged as a rehearsed reading with professional actors during Liverpool Hope University’s Cornerstone Arts Festival at the end of November.
The final ten will then be judged by John Godber (writer of Bouncers and Up n’ Under and Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Liverpool Hope University), Frank Cottrell Boyce (Visiting Professor of Reading and Communication at Liverpool Hope University, writer and deviser of the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony), Kathy Burke (Actress and Director) Kevin Fearon (Chief Executive of the Liverpool Royal Court Theatre), John Bennett (Principal Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies at Liverpool Hope University and specialist in popular theatre), Catherine Jones (Liverpool Echo Arts Editor) and Paul Allen (critically acclaimed writer and broadcaster).
It is only when the winning script has been chosen in January 2015 that the identity of the author will be revealed.
Professor Nick Rees, Dean of Arts and Humanities at Liverpool Hope University said: “It is exciting to think that the winner of the prize, and perhaps the next Willy Russell, John Godber, Marie Jones or Amanda Whittington could be among those 200 scripts. The response has been fantastic and we have seen entries come in from across the UK. Although in its first year, the prize is already making a name for itself.”
Kevin Fearon, Chief Executive of the Liverpool Royal Court Theatre said: “We are passionate about great comedy writing here and our readers have told us that the standard is very high so far. We were hoping to get a hundred or so entries for this first year so to achieve more than double that shows how important this prize is to writers nationally. I am looking forward to getting to grips with the shortlist as soon as it is ready.”