New writing takes centre stage in major new industry partnership

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With the 2017 winner of the Mercury Playwriting Prize, Europe After The Rain, beginning rehearsals today, the Mercury Theatre Colchester announces its latest major initiative in support of new plays and new playwrights for 2018.

Mercury Theatre Colchester & Josef Weinberger Ltd are joining forces to discover the very best and most diverse new British theatre writing talent from across the UK, via a new national playwriting competition, launching this year. The Mercury / Weinberger Playwriting Prize will be looking for 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 winning entry will pick up a cash prize of £5,000, a publishing deal with Josef Weinberger Ltd and the possibility of a full production at the Mercury Theatre. A panel of high profile industry judges will be announced in September.

The online portal for entries will open on 25 May 2018, the closing date is 20 July 2018 and winners will be announced week commencing 5 November 2018. The portal will be accessible on

In addition, a secondary strand to the award is The Mercury / Weinberger Future Voice Award which has been designed to specifically recognise young talent between the ages of 16-25 years. The winner receives £500 and a rehearsed reading of their play.

Daniel Buckroyd, Mercury Artistic Director, stated today, ‘’The Mercury is committed to originating new work and supporting the development of emerging talent – in fact our 2018 programme is built around this focus, with two newly commissioned adaptations, a brand new British musical, and the premiere of Europe After The Rain by Oliver Bennett, the winner of last year’s Mercury Playwriting Prize – so this partnership with such an established champion of new work as Josef Weinberger Ltd is incredibly exciting, as we seek to include the very best new work in our programme in Colchester and on tour.’’

James Cawood, Head of Plays at Josef Weinberger, said today ‘‘Josef Weinberger has always been a proud home to the work of some of the finest playwrights of the last century. We are honoured to look after the stage rights of Bergman, Miller, Steinbeck and many others whose work entertains, engages and inspires theatre goers and practitioners across the globe. Whilst our history is a vital part of our identity we also look to the future and have over the years unearthed many exciting new voices. I want Josef Weinberger to be a name synonymous with new writing, a home where new writers are supported and developed and where their careers can flourish. To show our commitment to this we are guaranteeing representation and publication of the winning play whilst also being excited to be introduced to a pool of new writers and unique stories.

“To partner with the Mercury Theatre offers us the opportunity to work with one of the country’s most exciting theatres and combine the passions of two organisations, committed to securing an exhilarating future for British theatre.’’

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