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Mercury / Weinberger Playwriting Prizewinner


The Mercury Theatre Colchester and Josef Weinberger Ltd today announce the winners of their inaugural Mercury / Weinberger Playwriting Prize.

The winner, who picks up a cash prize of £5,000 and a publishing deal with Josef Weinberger Ltd, is Liverpool-based playwright Joe Ward Munrow for his play Screaming Heart. Joe’s play will also be entered into Weinberger’s international play catalogue and will have its professional and amateur rights represented. Furthermore there is the possibility of a production at the Mercury Theatre.

The judging panel were delighted to find a plethora of new voices and, for many, we are certain that this is another sign of their huge potential as playwrights going forward. All submissions were read blind, and went through a vigorous judging process.

The winning play, Joe Ward Munrow’s Screaming Heart, is an explosively poetic exploration of humanity’s desire to rise and breathe within the suffocating landscape of conflict and oppression. The play never shies away from the brutality of war and yet, amidst the darkness and desperation, a light is shone and illuminates the potential for growth and hope as the greatest weapons we can wield, in a world of destruction. Lyn Gardner described Munrow as “A writer with a sure voice and one that is distinctive too.”

Joe Ward Munrow said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have won the Mercury Weinberger Playwriting prize and really excited about working with both the Mercury Theatre and Josef Weinberger and seeing what happens with Screaming Heart in the future.”

The judging panel was comprised of critic, writer and journalist Lyn Gardner, Tiata Fahodzi artistic director Natalie Ibu, Mercury Executive Producer Tracey Childs and Josef Weinberger Head of Plays James Cawood. The panel were seeking previously unperformed plays that have the ambition, appeal and theatricality to fill larger theatres, with the desire of getting the very best new work published and into production over the next few years.

The panel also decided the winner of The Mercury / Weinberger Future Voice Award. This went to Essex born Mark Starling for his first full-length play, Target Man. This award was designed specifically to recognise young talent between the ages of 16-25 years. Mark will receive a prize of £500 and a rehearsed reading of his play.

Mark said: “I’m thrilled to have won this award. It’s an important subject matter, and I hope that this is just the start of the journey for the play!”

Tracey Childs, Executive Producer at the Mercury Theatre, said: “Finally! The hundreds of script entries for the Mercury/Weinberger Playwriting Competition have been read by our specially selected 51 readers across the country. Those entries have been reduced to a long list, that has been whittled down to a short-list, that has been distilled to the finalists list and read by our panel of judges. We were overwhelmed by the level of talent and it was a tough decision but in the end Joe’s elegant, fresh, mercurial play was a clear winner. I can’t wait to see how it develops further!”

James Cawood, Head of Plays at Josef Weinberger, said: “We have been thrilled with the response to the inaugural Mercury / Weinberger Playwriting Prize. So many talented playwrights with engaging and powerful voices have taken the bold step of entering the competition and we have been flooded with wonderful scripts from all corners of the UK! We are delighted to announce our winners and celebrate the wealth of brilliant playwrights this country has to offer. We hope their characters and stories will continue to enthral us for years to come.”

There will be exciting developments as the winning play cements its relationship with the Mercury Theatre, and also has its performance rights represented by Josef Weinberger, but the support of a theatre and publishing institution doesn’t end with the Winner and Future Voice announcement.

Keep up-to-date with the Mercury / Weinberger Playwriting Prize by visiting / and following @MWPlayPrize on Twitter.