Shortlist announced for Mercury Weinberger Playwriting Prize

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

The judging panel appraising the shortlist through is 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 shortlist is comprised of six up-and-coming playwrights: Robbie Best, Doug Crossley, Maud Dromgoole, J Luxembourg, Mark Starling and Joe Ward Munrow. The winner will be announced on Monday 5 November, and will pick up a cash prize of £5,000 and a publishing deal with Josef Weinberger Ltd. The play will take its place in Weinberger’s international play catalogue and will have its professional and amateur rights represented. The winner will also have the possibility of a full production at the Mercury Theatre.

Robbie Best In the Early Hours of Mourning

Robbie Best was born and bred in Essex and studied theatre at Basildon Tertiary College. He went on to study at the internationally acclaimed Dartington College of Arts where he obtained a degree in Theatre and Performance Writing.

Since then Robbie has worked as a box office assistant and stage door keeper in a number of West End theatres and as a bookseller for Waterstones. He now teaches English as a second language and often uses theatre in the classroom to encourage creative use of language and self-expression. He loves reading, writing, strong coffee and long walks by the sea.

Doug CrossleyBetween the Riot and the Rainbow

Doug trained at the BRIT School and Guildford School of Acting before honing his skills in writers’ groups with the Royal Court, Soho, Bush, and Arcola Theatres. Beaming-smile moments of the past include commissions from York Theatre Royal and Action Transport Theatre, as well as winning a place on BAFTA Rocliffe Comedy Forum List. He’s currently on attachment with Oxford Playhouse where he’s writing a new play with songs that he’ll also perform. He’s a rookie piano player who’s keener than he is capable but that’s a good life strategy he reckons. When not writing, Doug can be found performing improv comedy at The Free Association in London.

Maud DromgooleRosa, Ursula and Richard

Maud is a writer from London, her plays include Mary’s Babies (Vaults, Fertility Fest @ The Bush Theatre, Kings Head Theatre); Acorn (Courtyard Theatre); Blue Moon (Bread and Roses, Courtyard Theatre and (as short) Arcola Theatre). Short Plays include: Sleeping Beauty (The Bunker); Milk (The Bunker, Hackney Attic); A Violet In The Youth of Primy Nature (Theatre Utopia); Cake (The Cockpit & Tristan Bates Theatre); Selkie (The Southwark Playhouse); The Boy James (Love Bites). She has written three short films which are at various stages of production: My Face, Portrait of a Bride and The Nightingale and The Queen. Her sitcom Acting Up was shortlisted for BBC Writersroom Comedy Script Room. She is currently working on her new play 3 Billion Seconds.

J LuxembourgHadrian’s Wall

J Luxembourg is a member of The Factory Theatre Company, and has worked with Tim Carroll, Nabokov and Headlong. Her credits include The Ballad of the Copper Revolution (The Vaults); Demolition (After Boris Vian) (V&A Museum, Southwark Playhouse); L’homasse (Hampstead Theatre start night); The Colorado Session (The Printworks, Manchester). She has been described as ‘[a] promising newcomer’ by Andrew Billen in the New Statesman. She is a graduate of Cambridge University and of the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Mark Starling Target Man

Mark grew up in Essex, and studied an English and History degree at the University of York, before completing an MFA in Scriptwriting from Royal Central Drama School in 2017. He has had short plays produced at the Southwark Playhouse and Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre, and co-created a web series, Thespianology, which was filmed in 2018. Mark is currently working as an Action Intern at Working Title Films. Target Man is his first full-length play.

Joe Ward MunrowScreaming Heart

Joe is a playwright from Deptford, South East London. His previous plays include Blue (The Gate/RWCMD), Held (Liverpool Playhouse Studio) and The Busker (BBC Radio 4). Joe is currently writing Hercules and Phoebe, a play for young children as part of the National Theatre’s ‘Let’s Play’ initiative and is writer-on-attachment at the National Theatre Studio.



The Mercury Theatre Colchester is the most active producing theatre in East Anglia and is a vital centre of excellence in the East’s growing creative economy. The Mercury exists to put theatre at the heart of the community it serves and to make work in Colchester that reaches audiences and generates critical attention regionally and nationally. The Mercury is a champion of regional arts, both as an active co-producer with other venues and companies and also touring our own productions to audiences across the UK. On-site production and workshop facilities create sets, props and costumes for both for in-house productions and touring companies, including the National Theatre.





Josef Weinberger Ltd. is one Europe’s leading theatrical and musical publishing houses working internationally to promote the work of playwrights, composers and lyricists as well as handling the estates of some the most famous names in theatre, musical theatre, classical music and opera.

The Josef Weinberger Plays division exists to champion the work of playwrights around the globe; working with agents across every international territory, their authors consistently have their work produced here in the UK as well as in countless languages in countless countries. Driven by a pride in their long history and a passion for discovering emerging talent, Josef Weinberger Plays has an international reach and partners with some of the world’s leading producers and practitioners to create and inspire exceptional theatre.





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