The Lancaster Playwriting Prize

The Lancaster Playwriting Prize is an initiative arising out of the cultural partnership between Lancaster University and The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster; it is supported by Lucy Briers. The Prize aims to discover new voices from a diverse range of backgrounds; each year, it has different entry criteria in order to reach underserved playwrights.

For 2019, the Prize is focused on unproduced writers aged over 55 who are based in North West England. The winner will receive £1500. The Prize shortlist and winner will be announced in Autumn 2019.

What we’re looking for

  • We are looking for theatre scripts from writers over the age of 55.
  • All writers submitting must have no prior full-length professional theatre work produced.
  • We’re eager to read new work which throws light on how we live now, expands our horizons, explores current issues, or reveals a previously untold story.
  • We’re happy to consider scripts for family and young audiences, as well as scripts for adult audiences; however, it must be an original story, not an adaptation of an existing text, film or novel.


The window for scripts opens on 19th August 2019. The date for last entries is noon on 27th September 2019.

Entry rules

  • The competition is open to writers over 55 years old who are resident or work in the North West of England. For the purposes of this prize, the North West consists of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. Writers must be 55 or over on 19th August 2019 (all shortlisted writers will be asked to provide proof of age).
  • All writers submitting must have no prior full-length professional theatre work produced. For the purposes of this competition, a professional production refers to a play that has had more than five performances in front of a paying audience; it also features paid performers, directors and production teams. Rehearsed readings or development workshops are not counted as prior professional productions; nor are works written for youth or non-professional performers. Works under forty minutes are also discounted as prior professional productions.
  • The play must be an original, unpublished and unproduced piece of work. It cannot have had a professional production anywhere in the world (see the above criteria for clarification).
  • Adaptations of existing works of musical theatre, radio, television or other media are not eligible; translations of said works are also excluded.
  • Musical theatre scripts are not eligible.
  • Scripts must be a minimum of 40 minutes long and all pages must be numbered.

Entry process

  • Entries must be sent as Word documents or PDF files to email. All scripts should include your name, address and contact details.
  • Your email should also include an attached completed monitoring form. (Lancaster Playwriting Monitoring Form 19/20)‌
  • The Lancaster Playwriting Prize is aimed at writers over 55 living or working in the North West. Please describe in your entry email how you fulfil these criteria.

Reading process

  • In order to manage the number of submissions, there will be a four-stage reading process for entries:
    • First stage. The first twenty pages of each script will be read by two members of the Prize reading team. If selected by either reader, the script will go to the next stage. All scripts will be anonymised.
    • Second stage. Scripts will be read in full. If selected by either reader, the script will go to the long-list stage with a brief script report.
    • Third stage. Long-listed scripts are read and a shortlist of up to five entries selected.
    • Fourth stage. A panel of readers including Lucy Briers (actress and patron of the Lancaster Playwriting Prize) and Dr Tajinder Singh Hayer (Lecturer in Creative Writing) will select a winner.
  • Unfortunately, we will not be able to give feedback to entrants.