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Mercury Playwrights in association with Josef Weinberger Plays

The Mercury Theatre and Josef Weinberger Ltd have joined forces once again to nurture and grow the very best writing talent from the East of England in their exciting new playwriting development programme.

Mercury Playwrights Development Programme

We are thrilled to be joining forces once again with our friends at Josef Weinberger Plays to present an exciting new playwriting development programme, designed to nurture and grow new creative talent in the East of England.

Over the next 9 months, Mercury Playwrights in association with Josef Weinberger Plays will support a group of new writers, to guide and mentor them through the process of creating their own full-length play or piece of theatre.

Participants will meet online once a month from June 2020 through to February 2021. These monthly sessions will led by award-winning writer Kenny Emson and will take writers through a two-draft process with one-to-one dramaturgy support.

Throughout the programme, Kenny will also be joined by an exciting list of guest writers, including Anya Reiss, Rachel De-Lahay, Vickie Donoghue, Guleraana Mir and David Eldridge!

We are looking for fresh new voices, writers who are bold, ambitious and theatrically daring. To ensure we tell the most dynamic and varied stories, we are particularly keen to hear from writers who are underrepresented in this industry whether this be by class, disability, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.

Together with Josef Weinberger Plays, it is our mission raise playwrights of tomorrow.

Our Playwrights

Over 120 submissions were received and the Mercury & Weinberger team have selected 15 emerging playwrights to take part in the 9-month programme led by award-winning writer, Kenny Emson, who will mentor them through the process of creating their own full-length play or piece of theatre.

The selected writers include Waleed Akhtar, a director, writer and actor based in Redbridge who is best known for his role as Essad in the Golden Globe nominated film, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Sarah Baxter, a writer and director who won the Mercury Theatre’s Poetry Slam in May 2020, Gail Egbeson a playwright and actress from Essex whose first play Jollof Court has been performed at the Lyric Hammersmith and had a sold-out run at the VAULT Festival 2020. Jazz Ely, a writer, director and performer from Walton on the Naze who recently performed her autobiographical piece Unhinged at Colchester Arts Centre and Matt Gurr a playwright from Witham who was one of the winners of the Mercury Monologue competition.

Kelly Jones, a playwright from Essex whose plays have been performed at the Sherman Theatre and James McDermott, a writer based in Holt, currently working on an LGBTQ themed pantomime for Norwich Playhouse. Ethan Moorhouse, an actor and writer from Steeple Bumpstead who recently starred in Peter Pan Goes Wrong with Mischief Theatre and Chileya Mwampulo, a writer based in Colchester and an associate artist at the Mercury Theatre. Michelle Payne, a director and playwright from Rainham who is also Artistic Director of Caspa Arts, providing actor training for under-represented voices.

Ava Pickett an actress and writer from Clacton-On-Sea who wrote BBC Radio 4 comedy Roots starring Vicky McClure and Charlie Platt, a writer from Southend whose work has been staged at the Park Theatre and Lyric Theatre. Jacko Pook, a theatre practitioner and artist living in Felixstowe who leads Youth Theatres and Musical Tuition across Essex and Suffolk. LLoyd Shankley, an actor and playwright from Colchester whose play Perhaps? was performed at the Mercury Theatre Scratch Night and Jess Woo, an actress and writer based in King’s Lynn who is also a Tamasha Developing Artist.

The participants will meet once a month from June 2020 for a series of online workshop sessions led by Kenny Emson. He will also be joined in the sessions by special guest writers including Anya Reiss, Rachel De-Lahay, Vickie Donoghue, Guleraana Mir and David Eldridge, all of whom will offer additional guidance and expertise.

How to Apply

We ask all applicants to:

  • Send us 5 pages of your best writing for stage. This could be a short play, a monologue, a scene or scenes from a longer play, or the beginning of a play you would like to develop.
  • State your connection with the East of England – applicants must be from or currently reside in this area to take part.
  • Provide us with a high-res headshot & bio.
  • Provide a short statement of 200-250 words explaining why you would like to take part.

Applications should be sent to

Deadline: Friday 5 June 2020

Rules and Guidelines

  • Submissions must be no longer than 5 pages. We cannot accept full-length scripts.
  • Submissions should be written in a legible font or typeface and attached to your email as PDF or Word Document files only.
  • We can only accept one script per writer.
  • The Mercury can only accept original work.
  • Your name and contact details should appear on the title page only (this ensures your anonymity during the reading process)
  • Applicants must be from or currently reside in the East of England.
  • Applicants must be aged 18 or over.
  • The Mercury will formally acknowledge all script submissions.
  • All scripts will be read in full by the Mercury and an assembled panel of readers.
  • All submissions will be given due consideration, but, regretfully, we cannot provide feedback on every script.
  • Selected applicants will be notified by Thursday 11th June 2020.

Should you have any queries about these guidelines, please email

If you would like to be part of this programme, you must be free to attend an initial Zoom meeting on the morning of Friday 12 June 2020, and all nine workshops. These will take place via Zoom online on:

  • Thurs 18th June – PM
  • Thurs 16th July – PM
  • Thurs 20th August – PM
  • Thurs 17th September – PM
  • Thurs 15th October – PM
  • Thurs 19th November – PM
  • Thurs 17th December – PM
  • Thurs 21st Jan 2021 – PM
  • Thurs 25th Feb 2021 – PM
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