Who is Involved?

Professor Pillay

The competition was initiated by Vice-Chancellor and Rector of Liverpool Hope University, Professor Gerald J. Pillay.

Professor Pillay comments, “Our University is both passionate and committed to Liverpool’s cultural offering. Through The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize we will not only recognise and develop new talent, but further strengthen Liverpool’s place as one of the greatest cities for culture, regionally, nationally and internationally.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Judging Panel

Kevin Fearon  

Kevin Fearon
Chief Executive, Liverpool's Royal Court

A Liverpool Institute pupil, Kevin Fearon started in theatre as a 15 year old stage hand at The Empire Theatre. He went on to run The Shaw Theatre in London in the late 80s and early 90s with highlights including hosting Eddie Izzard’s Raging Bull Comedy Club and being the first venue to bring The Chippendales over from America. In 1993 he returned to Liverpool where he reopened The Everyman Theatre. In his time at The Everyman, he brought back the famous Rock n Roll pantos, as well as independently producing larger scale shows at the Royal Court and Summer Pops Tent. In 1998 he left The Everyman to run Rawhide Comedy Club (which he started in 1995), which soon became the biggest independent comedy club in the UK. 2005 saw the move to the Royal Court Liverpool where he has been Chief Executive and Executive Producer ever since. The Royal Court has forged a strong reputation as a producing theatre, particularly for new writing and comedy.
 

 John Bennett

John Bennett
Deputy Head of Department of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies, Liverpool Hope University

John Bennett specialises in contemporary popular theatre. He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Lancaster and a PhD from The University of Reading on the popular theatre of John Godber. He has lectured in London, Krakow, New York, Bangalore and Angers and published articles and book chapters on the work of John Godber, the Hull Truck Theatre, Willy Russell, the Royal Court Liverpool and Alan Ayckbourn. He is the award director for the MA Contemporary British Popular Theatres course at Liverpool Hope University and a Visiting Professor at SUNY Potsdam.

 Alistair Smith

Alistair Smith
Editor, The Stage 

Alistair Smith is print editor of The Stage. Having joined the publication on staff in 2004, he has held the roles of reporter, news editor, opinion editor and deputy editor at The Stage and has written for publications ranging from The Guardian to Hello! Magazine. He is also the author of the London Theatre Report and a founder of the My Theatre Matters! campaign.

 Catherine Jones

Catherine Jones
Arts Editor, Liverpool Echo

Catherine Jones has been a journalist and reviewer for more than 20 years. She was the capital of culture reporter during Liverpool's tenure in 2008, and is currently the Liverpool Echo's arts editor covering the region's all-singing, all-dancing cultural scene from big budget musicals to experimental theatre, comedy to classical music, and dance to art.

 Les Dennis

Les Dennis
TV Presenter, Actor and Comedian 

Les Dennis was born in Liverpool and he began his career playing in the working men’s clubs across the north west. In 1974 he won New Faces, and went on to work with Russ Abbot and then have his own show, The Les Dennis Laughter Show. He presented of Family Fortunes for 15 years. In recent years he has moved into acting including roles in Ricky Gervais’s Extras and Life’s Too Short. In 2014 he joined Coronation Street as Michael Rodwell. In March 2016 he is due to star in Alan Bleasdale’s Down the Dock Road at Liverpool’s Royal Court.

 Amanda Wittington  

Amanda Wittington
Playwright

Amanda is one of the most widely-performed playwrights in the UK. Her plays include The Thrill of Love, which premiered at the New Vic Theatre in 2013 and Kiss Me Quickstep which opens there in March 2016. Further theatre credits are Amateur Girl, Ladies Day, Ladies Down Under, The Dug Out, Satin n Steel, Bollywood Jane, The Wills’s Girls and Be My
Baby. She has adapted Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, My Judy Garland Life and Tipping the Velvet for the stage, and was commissioned in 2015 to write Miss Johnson for students at Central School of Speech and Drama. Amanda writes regularly for BBC Radio 4, with recent radio plays including The All Clear (Fact to Fiction) and two series of the
Children in Need Woman’s Hour drama, D For Dexter, which won Best Series/Serial in this years BBC Audio Drama awards. Amanda is published by Nick Hern Books and Samuel French. Her work has become a popular choice for amateur, community and school productions across the country.
 

 Frank Cottrell Boyce

 

Frank Cottrell Boyce
Playwright, Screenwriter, Novelist and Visiting Professor of Reading and Communication at Liverpool Hope University

Frank Cottrell Boyce was born in Rainhill, Liverpool and graduated from Oxford in English and palaeontology, later with a PHD in English. His writing career began as a television critic and then onto programmes such as Brookside and Coronation Street. His most famous writing credits include Millions in 2004 with director Danny Boyle which won a British Independent Film Award for Best Screenplay.

He also wrote the 2012 Olympic ceremony, which was directed by Danny Boyle. His partnership with director Michael Winterbottom led to six films including 24 Hour Party People (2002) and A Cock and Bull Story (2005). Frank also found success in novels for children, leading to him winning a Carnegie medal in 2004 for his first book Millions, based on his film. He won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2012.

 

 Paul Allen

Paul Allen
Theatre Critic and Writer 

Paul Allen trained as a reporter in Sheffield, where he still lives, and was the first journalist outside London to be named Critic of the Year in the British Press awards in 1977. He presented the BBC Radio 4 arts programme Kaleidoscope until 1998 and then Radio 3's Nightwaves until 2007. He has had more than 25 plays produced in the theatre or on radio, most successfully an adaptation of the film Brassed Off which has been in almost constant production since its premiere in Sheffield and at the National Theatre in 1998. He is the biographer of Alan Ayckbourn and has been a fellow at the University of Warwick and taught at the University of Sheffield. He has an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University.

 
Katie Mulgrew  

Katie Mulgrew
Comedian, Playwright and Winner of the 2015 Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize 

Lancashire comedian Katie Mulgrew won the first Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize for her play Omnibus, which is due to be staged at Unity Theatre before a possible transfer to Liverpool’s Royal Court in 2017. Katie has taken two solo stand up shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She has been the support act for The Boy With Tape On His Face and Vikki
Stone, written for the The News Quiz and featured on the BBC Radio 2 documentary series, The History of British comedy. She has also been in episodes of the CBBC show, The Dog Ate My Homework. Katie recently launched Mum’s The Word Comedy Club, which hosts monthly parent and baby afternoon comedy in Manchester. She hosts ‘The FunnyGirl Podcast’ and is one third of the ‘Animates’ podcast.