2017-18 Prize

Winner Announced!

Photo of Simon Bradbury, winner of the 2017 Liverpool Playwriting Prize, at the Awards Ceremony. Pictured with the set of Lost Soul.In an Awards Ceremony at Liverpool's Royal Court theatre on Monday 27th March 2017, Simon Bradbury was announced as the winner or the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize for his play The Last Act of Love of J B Moliere.

The Last Act of Love of J B Moliere is set in the year 1673, when playwriting and acting was a risky business. It imagines the playwright Moliere’s last days as, knowing his death is near, he prepares to put on a performance of 'The Imaginary Invalid'. Moliere’s servant and wife try to dissuade him from performing, and ask him to sign a document renouncing the acting profession, in the hope of saving his soul and affording him a Christian burial. Both his friends and enemies alike conspire to keep Moliere from the stage in the madcap romp. 

A Highly Commended Award of £1,500 went to writer and lecturer Gerry Linford from Ellesmere Port, for his play A Prayer to Saint Cajetan, set in Liverpool during the 1978 World Cup. The play charts what happens when an eccentric priest teams up with an unemployed man to place a series of outlandish bets on the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Gerry is a lecturer in Screenwriting at the University of Central Lancashire and has written a number of films, including Buddha Boy for BBC Wales and What's The Story.

New judges for this year include comedian and actor Les Dennis, playwright Amanda Whittington, editor of The Stage Alistair Smith and last year’s winner Katie Mulgrew.

Returning to the judging panel were screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell Boyce, Royal Court Executive Producer Kevin Fearon, Playwright and critic Paul Allen, Liverpool Hope University theatre expert Dr John Bennett, and former Liverpool Echo’s arts editor Catherine Jones. 

The Liverpool Echo and The Stage are official media partners for the 2017 competition. All entries were judged anonymously.

Winner Simon has acted in a number of Shakespeare productions, and starred in the TV shows ArrowFringe and Stargate: Arc of Truth. He has also worked in The Beatles’ LOVE by Cirque du Soleil. Simon studied at the Drama Centre London and then spent 16 years with the Shaw Festival Theatre in Canada. His play about Chaplin was programmed for their Courthouse season in 2002. Simon has had three Jessie nominations, winning one for best supporting actor. Simon founded his own theatre company, Ziggurat Theatre and now resides back in UK.

Dr John Bennett, Chair of Judges, said: "This is a truly remarkable play. It manages to combine broad slapstick humour, detailed historical knowledge and witty, original dialogue to great comic effect, whilst achieving moments of genuine pathos - an impressive feat of comic writing."

Frank Cottrell Boyce said: "As soon as I started reading it, I was seeing it in my mind's eye, and as soon as I started to see it in my mind’s eye, I wanted to see it on a stage. I wanted to see it sitting next to someone I really love and with a box of chocolates in my hand…the winner is not just a really good play but also a really good night out.”

Amanda Whittington said: “The writing is fantastic. We were all just knocked out by the skill, and the wit, and the vision of the writer. I hope that they can really take that forward in the work that they do next, knowing that they’ve got something to say and that it’s good.”

Simon’s play is inspired by his own years on stage in the US, UK, and Canada, which has included a role in Moliere’s Tartuffe at The Stratford Festival.

Simon said: “My inspiration for the play was, in fact, the world of the theatre. Austerity has been a blow to all aspects of our lives but the cultural world is the first to get it in the neck. My admiration for Moliere, the man and his farces, was another springboard. He dealt with tyrannical patronage, censorship and ceaseless attacks from the church yet continued his commitment to enlighten and entertain. I have tried to reproduce his spirit of anarchy by constructing a comedy about the last hours of his life, during which all these travails come to the fore. It is my cheeky homage to a compulsive social critic who pushed the bounds of convention and good taste, while being completely incapable of denying himself and countless others a bloody good laugh.”    

He added, “I sent my play in because it is rare to see comedy highlighted for a competition. It tends to be the poor cousin of tragedy and other genres. This specialization is exciting, because it harkens back to the days of the Aldwych farces, which led to a golden era of English theatre comedy. Comedy is damned serious business! The association of a highly regarded academic institution with a respected theatre company lends credence to this idea. That is why this competition is unique and very important.”  

Visit our Flickr Gallery to see images of the event.

You can read about all of our six shortlisted plays here.

Image: Winner Simon Bradbury, on the set of Lost Soul at Liverpool's Royal Court, with his certificate and trophy. 

2014-15 Prize

 

Playwriting prizeRochdale stand-up comedian Katie Mulgrew took away £10,000 and the opportunity to have her work considered for production by the Royal Court Liverpool, with a comedy that examines the effect of soap operas on our lives.

Katie, the only woman shortlisted for the inaugural Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize, won for her play Omnibus which centres on housemates Nell, Lauren, Mark and his girlfriend, Jessica. All four of them are enjoying a soap opera marathon on what they think is a typical Sunday afternoon, until an unexpected visitor arrives to give them an episode to remember.   ‌

The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize is the UK’s second largest playwriting prize after the Bruntwood Prize. Katie’s play was chosen by a‌‌ team of expert judges including actress and director Kathy Burke, screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell Boyce, playwright John Godber, critic and writer Paul Allen, Liverpool Royal Court Chief Executive Kevin Fearon, Liverpool Hope University Drama Academic Dr John Bennett, and Liverpool Echo Arts Editor Catherine Jones.

Katie describes herself as a “stand-up comedian, writer and lover of chicken kievs.” She has written and starred in two Edinburgh Fringe stand up shows, most recently Happily Ever After in 2014.  

 

Comedy runs in the family – Katie’s father is legendary entertainer Jimmy Cricket. Her debut Edinburgh show, Your Dad’s Not Funny was about her experience of growing up with a comedian for a dad, and how she found her way into the industry.

Katie also provides regular support at shows for Matt Richardson, Lee Nelson and the internationally award-winning The Boy With Tape on His Face. She was featured on the BBC Radio 2 documentary seriesThe History of British Comedy and hosts The FunnyGirl Podcast where she discusses musicals with guest comedians such as Tim Vine, Tom Allen and Pippa Evans.  Katie has had three plays commissioned to be performed by a Special Arts College and a primary school in North Manchester, and last year she appeared on the CBBC show The Dog Ate My Homework. Katie writes a blog at https://katiemulgrew.wordpress.com/  

Katie said: “When I saw the award advertised I loved the fact that it was a chance to work with the Royal Court, which is a fabulous theatre. So many great writers come from Liverpool and the North West as a whole. When I saw the list of judges, I knew I’d love my work to be judged by those people. I thought that even to get feedback would be incredible, but to win is unbelievable.

“The fact that it was judged anonymously also means a lot to me. It means that there was no positive discrimination and that everyone’s work was judged on its merits, which makes me feel amazing.

“I hope that this play will be a platform for my comedy writing and a chance to really break into the comedy world. It would be an absolute dream to have my play performed at the Royal Court.”    

Dr John Bennett, Principal Lecturer in Drama at Liverpool Hope University said: “On behalf of Liverpool Hope University, I would like to congratulate Katie Mulgrew on winning the first Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize. Her play made me laugh out loud and is a skilful, deft combination of classic farce with contemporary urban mores; all judges agreed it was a worthy winner. I hope that this success helps Katie in her writing career and I look forward to following her progress from this point. I am sure we will be hearing more from her in the future.”

Gillian Miller, Chief Executive of the Royal Court Liverpool Trust said: "This announcement is the end of a long process that has seen some great scripts submitted and Katie is a worthy winner. The other great thing to take out of this is the working partnership between The Royal Court and Liverpool Hope University. Professor Gerald Pillay and the team at Liverpool Hope have been hugely supportive and it bodes well for this prize in future years." 

Playwright John Godber, who was also on the judging panel, said of Omnibus: “There was an honesty about it. There was a truth about the situation. In the end, there was a unanimous decision on the winner.”

Katie beat competition from both established and amateur playwrights to take the top prize. More than 200 scripts were received from across the country and were judged anonymously.


Two Highly Commended Over 21 awards and two Highly Commended 21 and Under awards were also given out on the night.  

Playwriting Prize ShortlistMilo Bell from Preston was Highly Commended in the Over 21 category for his play Baggage, in which four people, each from different generations and with varying aspirations, spend the night shift in a hotel awaiting the arrival of a big shot TV producer. Milo used his own experiences of working as a hotel porter to inspire his play.

Freelance Journalist and Playwright Ian Salmon, from Netherton in Liverpool, was Highly Commended in the Over 21 category for his play The Comeback Special in which a Liverpool lad finds himself talking to the ghost of Elvis.

Writer, comedian and theatre practitioner Robert Cooke was Highly Commended in the 21 and Under category for The Box, which centres on two men stuck in a room with no obvious way out and a magic box that contains whatever they want it to.

Liverpool Hope University student Jonathan Cheriyan from London was Highly Commended in the 21 and Under Category for Happily Ever After? in which Prince Charming and Cinderella are having marriage problems, and the ageing Fairy Godmother seems to have lost her power to help. Sleeping Beauty is now a shopaholic, and the wicked witch is determined to finally win the day. 

 

2017-18 Prize

Winner Announced!

Photo of Simon Bradbury, winner of the 2017 Liverpool Playwriting Prize, at the Awards Ceremony. Pictured with the set of Lost Soul.In an Awards Ceremony at Liverpool's Royal Court theatre on Monday 27th March 2017, Simon Bradbury was announced as the winner or the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize for his play The Last Act of Love of J B Moliere.

The Last Act of Love of J B Moliere is set in the year 1673, when playwriting and acting was a risky business. It imagines the playwright Moliere’s last days as, knowing his death is near, he prepares to put on a performance of 'The Imaginary Invalid'. Moliere’s servant and wife try to dissuade him from performing, and ask him to sign a document renouncing the acting profession, in the hope of saving his soul and affording him a Christian burial. Both his friends and enemies alike conspire to keep Moliere from the stage in the madcap romp. 

A Highly Commended Award of £1,500 went to writer and lecturer Gerry Linford from Ellesmere Port, for his play A Prayer to Saint Cajetan, set in Liverpool during the 1978 World Cup. The play charts what happens when an eccentric priest teams up with an unemployed man to place a series of outlandish bets on the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Gerry is a lecturer in Screenwriting at the University of Central Lancashire and has written a number of films, including Buddha Boy for BBC Wales and What's The Story.

New judges for this year include comedian and actor Les Dennis, playwright Amanda Whittington, editor of The Stage Alistair Smith and last year’s winner Katie Mulgrew.

Returning to the judging panel were screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell Boyce, Royal Court Executive Producer Kevin Fearon, Playwright and critic Paul Allen, Liverpool Hope University theatre expert Dr John Bennett, and former Liverpool Echo’s arts editor Catherine Jones. 

The Liverpool Echo and The Stage are official media partners for the 2017 competition. All entries were judged anonymously.

Winner Simon has acted in a number of Shakespeare productions, and starred in the TV shows ArrowFringe and Stargate: Arc of Truth. He has also worked in The Beatles’ LOVE by Cirque du Soleil. Simon studied at the Drama Centre London and then spent 16 years with the Shaw Festival Theatre in Canada. His play about Chaplin was programmed for their Courthouse season in 2002. Simon has had three Jessie nominations, winning one for best supporting actor. Simon founded his own theatre company, Ziggurat Theatre and now resides back in UK.

Dr John Bennett, Chair of Judges, said: "This is a truly remarkable play. It manages to combine broad slapstick humour, detailed historical knowledge and witty, original dialogue to great comic effect, whilst achieving moments of genuine pathos - an impressive feat of comic writing."

Frank Cottrell Boyce said: "As soon as I started reading it, I was seeing it in my mind's eye, and as soon as I started to see it in my mind’s eye, I wanted to see it on a stage. I wanted to see it sitting next to someone I really love and with a box of chocolates in my hand…the winner is not just a really good play but also a really good night out.”

Amanda Whittington said: “The writing is fantastic. We were all just knocked out by the skill, and the wit, and the vision of the writer. I hope that they can really take that forward in the work that they do next, knowing that they’ve got something to say and that it’s good.”

Simon’s play is inspired by his own years on stage in the US, UK, and Canada, which has included a role in Moliere’s Tartuffe at The Stratford Festival.

Simon said: “My inspiration for the play was, in fact, the world of the theatre. Austerity has been a blow to all aspects of our lives but the cultural world is the first to get it in the neck. My admiration for Moliere, the man and his farces, was another springboard. He dealt with tyrannical patronage, censorship and ceaseless attacks from the church yet continued his commitment to enlighten and entertain. I have tried to reproduce his spirit of anarchy by constructing a comedy about the last hours of his life, during which all these travails come to the fore. It is my cheeky homage to a compulsive social critic who pushed the bounds of convention and good taste, while being completely incapable of denying himself and countless others a bloody good laugh.”    

He added, “I sent my play in because it is rare to see comedy highlighted for a competition. It tends to be the poor cousin of tragedy and other genres. This specialization is exciting, because it harkens back to the days of the Aldwych farces, which led to a golden era of English theatre comedy. Comedy is damned serious business! The association of a highly regarded academic institution with a respected theatre company lends credence to this idea. That is why this competition is unique and very important.”  

Visit our Flickr Gallery to see images of the event.

You can read about all of our six shortlisted plays here.

Image: Winner Simon Bradbury, on the set of Lost Soul at Liverpool's Royal Court, with his certificate and trophy. 

2014-15 Prize

 

Playwriting prizeRochdale stand-up comedian Katie Mulgrew took away £10,000 and the opportunity to have her work considered for production by the Royal Court Liverpool, with a comedy that examines the effect of soap operas on our lives.

Katie, the only woman shortlisted for the inaugural Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize, won for her play Omnibus which centres on housemates Nell, Lauren, Mark and his girlfriend, Jessica. All four of them are enjoying a soap opera marathon on what they think is a typical Sunday afternoon, until an unexpected visitor arrives to give them an episode to remember.   ‌

The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize is the UK’s second largest playwriting prize after the Bruntwood Prize. Katie’s play was chosen by a‌‌ team of expert judges including actress and director Kathy Burke, screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell Boyce, playwright John Godber, critic and writer Paul Allen, Liverpool Royal Court Chief Executive Kevin Fearon, Liverpool Hope University Drama Academic Dr John Bennett, and Liverpool Echo Arts Editor Catherine Jones.

Katie describes herself as a “stand-up comedian, writer and lover of chicken kievs.” She has written and starred in two Edinburgh Fringe stand up shows, most recently Happily Ever After in 2014.  

 

Comedy runs in the family – Katie’s father is legendary entertainer Jimmy Cricket. Her debut Edinburgh show, Your Dad’s Not Funny was about her experience of growing up with a comedian for a dad, and how she found her way into the industry.

Katie also provides regular support at shows for Matt Richardson, Lee Nelson and the internationally award-winning The Boy With Tape on His Face. She was featured on the BBC Radio 2 documentary seriesThe History of British Comedy and hosts The FunnyGirl Podcast where she discusses musicals with guest comedians such as Tim Vine, Tom Allen and Pippa Evans.  Katie has had three plays commissioned to be performed by a Special Arts College and a primary school in North Manchester, and last year she appeared on the CBBC show The Dog Ate My Homework. Katie writes a blog at https://katiemulgrew.wordpress.com/  

Katie said: “When I saw the award advertised I loved the fact that it was a chance to work with the Royal Court, which is a fabulous theatre. So many great writers come from Liverpool and the North West as a whole. When I saw the list of judges, I knew I’d love my work to be judged by those people. I thought that even to get feedback would be incredible, but to win is unbelievable.

“The fact that it was judged anonymously also means a lot to me. It means that there was no positive discrimination and that everyone’s work was judged on its merits, which makes me feel amazing.

“I hope that this play will be a platform for my comedy writing and a chance to really break into the comedy world. It would be an absolute dream to have my play performed at the Royal Court.”    

Dr John Bennett, Principal Lecturer in Drama at Liverpool Hope University said: “On behalf of Liverpool Hope University, I would like to congratulate Katie Mulgrew on winning the first Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize. Her play made me laugh out loud and is a skilful, deft combination of classic farce with contemporary urban mores; all judges agreed it was a worthy winner. I hope that this success helps Katie in her writing career and I look forward to following her progress from this point. I am sure we will be hearing more from her in the future.”

Gillian Miller, Chief Executive of the Royal Court Liverpool Trust said: "This announcement is the end of a long process that has seen some great scripts submitted and Katie is a worthy winner. The other great thing to take out of this is the working partnership between The Royal Court and Liverpool Hope University. Professor Gerald Pillay and the team at Liverpool Hope have been hugely supportive and it bodes well for this prize in future years." 

Playwright John Godber, who was also on the judging panel, said of Omnibus: “There was an honesty about it. There was a truth about the situation. In the end, there was a unanimous decision on the winner.”

Katie beat competition from both established and amateur playwrights to take the top prize. More than 200 scripts were received from across the country and were judged anonymously.


Two Highly Commended Over 21 awards and two Highly Commended 21 and Under awards were also given out on the night.  

Playwriting Prize ShortlistMilo Bell from Preston was Highly Commended in the Over 21 category for his play Baggage, in which four people, each from different generations and with varying aspirations, spend the night shift in a hotel awaiting the arrival of a big shot TV producer. Milo used his own experiences of working as a hotel porter to inspire his play.

Freelance Journalist and Playwright Ian Salmon, from Netherton in Liverpool, was Highly Commended in the Over 21 category for his play The Comeback Special in which a Liverpool lad finds himself talking to the ghost of Elvis.

Writer, comedian and theatre practitioner Robert Cooke was Highly Commended in the 21 and Under category for The Box, which centres on two men stuck in a room with no obvious way out and a magic box that contains whatever they want it to.

Liverpool Hope University student Jonathan Cheriyan from London was Highly Commended in the 21 and Under Category for Happily Ever After? in which Prince Charming and Cinderella are having marriage problems, and the ageing Fairy Godmother seems to have lost her power to help. Sleeping Beauty is now a shopaholic, and the wicked witch is determined to finally win the day.