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Mercury Theatre’s Playwriting Prize

The Mercury Theatre’s Playwriting Prize brings the East’s wealth of writing talent to the fore, as it receives over 160 entries from local emerging writers. 

In January, the Mercury Theatre announced its latest major initiative in support of new plays and new playwrights – The Mercury Playwriting Prize 2017, in association with the University of Essex.

The winner of the prize will receive £2000, a year-long attachment to the Mercury Theatre Colchester as an Associate Artist as well as the possibility of a production in the Studio Theatre. Entries will be read anonymously and judged by a panel that will include Mercury Theatre and Essex University Staff, and established industry professionals.

Shortlisted scripts will receive a professionally directed reading at the Mercury Theatre and long-listed scripts will receive written feedback from our panel of readers. Scripts from students at The University of Essex will be simultaneously entered into The Mercury Student Playwriting Competition. The five best student scripts will receive their own day of readings within the New Work Festival, and the best student script will receive a prize of £200.

Mercury Theatre Artistic Director, Daniel Buckroyd, said:

“So much of our work centres around developing and supporting emerging artists. Our Early Careers Training Programme, Associate Artist scheme, Playwriting Prize, and the recently announced MGCfutures Bursary Programme, all exist to provide opportunities for the next generation of theatremakers to hone their skills at the Mercury. It’s a real joy to see so many writers creating new plays and I can’t wait to begin reading them!”

The Mercury Playwriting Prize’s winners and runners up will be announced on Fri 2 June, with professional readings of the shortlisted and winning scripts, as well as readings of scripts submitted by Essex University students, staged as part of our Summer New Talent Festival.

This Festival runs across 3 weeks from Monday 19 June – Sunday 9 July and also includes scratch pieces presented by the 2016-17 cohort of the Early Careers Training Programme created through workshops earlier that month. In the Festival’s second week, winner of the 2016 Essex Playwriting Competition, Kenny Emson, will also host a reading of his new play, The Piscator. Set against the changing landscape of rural Essex, The Piscator explores family, commercialism and carp fishing. It considers how an obsession can take over your life, and how the things we take for granted can so quickly disappear. There will also be an opportunity to attend a recording of the BBC Essex Radio Playwriting competition’s winning play.

To hear more about our New Talent work, and other opportunities to get involved, please visit