Liverpool Hope National Playwriting Prize calls on writers to enter their funniest scripts

The third Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize launches today, 15th May 2018, where writers are invited to submit their comedy scripts for a chance to win £10,000 with a potential 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. Scripts must be original and unperformed but writers of varying experience are welcome to enter.

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, with a further cash prize for highly commended runner/s-up.
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” will run at The Royal Court this June and stars one of the Playwriting Prize 2017 judges, comedian and actor Les Dennis.

Comedian and writer Katie Mulgrew, the winner of the first Playwriting Prize in 2015, had her play ‘Omnibus’ commissioned last year 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 new judging panel for 2019 includes; Maurice Bessman, celebrated script writer and playwright, journalist and reviewer Catherine Jones, John Godber OBE and well known actor/comedian Les Dennis.

Royal Court Co-Chief Executive Kevin Fearon, will also be on the judging panel for 2019 and commented, “We have been delighted to be involved with the Playwriting Prize for the last four years. We have seen a huge number of entries for both of the previous competitions from all around the country and we are looking forward to doing it all again. The quality of the scripts has meant that the judging is always a difficult process but it means that the very best are chosen for the award.”

Last year over 200 scripts from across the UK were submitted for the prize, Liverpool Hope University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Gerald Pillay said,
“The Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize is multi-faceted where Drama, English and Creative Writing academics at the university come together to support this competition, each valuing comedy as an art form. We are pleased to be partnering with The Royal Court Theatre once again in the search for talented writers.”

The deadline for entries Sun 22nd July. 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 on Monday April 1st 2019.

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Comedy and The Velvet Glove

Iain Christie, Marketing Manager at Liverpool’s Royal Court, makes the case for comedy as one of the best ways to make social and political comment.

Last Friday 3.5 million people watched the ten o’clock news. Just an hour earlier 5.2 million watched Have I Got News For You.

I was one of the 1.7 million who switched off between the two as I’d had my fill of news from Paul Merton and Ian Hislop so I didn’t need to stick around to get the more straight-laced version.

The biggest problem that news has is that it’s boring. It doesn’t make you smile, it doesn’t make you sing. It’s just not entertaining.

More and more people are turning to comedy and satire to find out what is going on in the world. In America The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver highlight serious issues every week while the news channels fill the hours with bluster and opinion.

Many Americans watch Comedy Central for news and Fox News for entertainment.

As I was growing up, the vast majority of my news and current affairs came from television shows like Spitting Image and HIGNFY as well as radio such as The Now Show and Dead Ringers. Private Eye was always lying around at home and I started off reading the cartoons before graduating to the articles for further political insight.

Spitting Image was particularly good at creating a shorthand for politicians. You knew who held each cabinet post because you could see them being lampooned on a Sunday Night, which in turn helped wider political debate around the country. The caricatures were merciless and David Steel’s portrayal as a tiny man who lived in David Owen’s pocket was so damaging that he believed it ended his political career.

Much laughter comes from shared experiences. The comedian or actor puts forward a situation and the audience show their understanding and affinity through laughter. That laughter in a group situation shows the audience member that they are not alone and that can lead to discussion and debate.

The point of all of this worthy waffle is that comedy can be very, very effective for getting a point across. Whether it is a political one or a social one comedy can reach people in way that speeches and lectures can’t.

The judges for the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize are looking for something to make them laugh. This could be silly or witty, clever or stupid but don’t be put off by the idea that comedy is less worthwhile than drama.

Recently we produced Alan Bleasdale’s Down The Dock Road and we saw how powerful drama can contain great moments of comedy. Audiences remember Alan’s Boys From The Blackstuff and talk about it with great fondness. Their memories are of a very funny programme that kept them entertained on a Sunday night in spite of the fact that it was a hard hitting political drama with some elements of comedy.

Down The Dock Road was the same. Audiences were visibly taken aback by the political nature of the show but there was enough humour in there to keep them listening. The message came through much more clearly as the audience was more receptive.

Many playwrights want to change the world but, at the moment especially, the world is full of comedians calling for change. If you are looking to enter the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize then you don’t need to abandon serious ideas or messages, just make them funny!

Liverpool’s Royal Court

Find out how last year’s winner Katie is preparing her play for the stage

Playwriting Prize Now Open

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The second Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize is now open for entries.

One comedy writer will walk away with £10,000 and the opportunity to have their play considered for production by Liverpool’s Royal Court, while up to two Highly Commended awards of £1,500 will also be on offer.

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 are screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell Boyce, Royal Court Chief Executive Kevin Fearon, Playwright and critic Paul Allen, Liverpool Hope University theatre expert Dr John Bennett, and the Liverpool Echo’s arts editor Catherine Jones. The panel will read the final ten scripts and announce the winner in Spring 2017.

The Stage and the Liverpool Echo have both been confirmed as media partners for the 2016-17 Playwriting Prize.

Budding playwrights have until May 31st 2016 to submit their comedy stage play. This year’s competition is open to anyone over the age of 18 in any UK territory or the Republic of Ireland.

There is a £20 entry fee.

Scripts (in PDF or Microsoft Word format) should be uploaded to the Liverpool Hope University Online Store at store.hope.ac.uk from 10am on Thursday 18th February.