Staffordshire writers win Lichfield play contest

Steve Orme

Lichfield Garrick has announced the winners of its Garrick300 playwriting competition: Rory Payne and Ellie Galvin for Paradise and Kiersten Leslie for Moving Pictures.

The theatre’s artistic director Tim Ford led a four-month nationwide competition to find the best original, unperformed and unproduced piece of work with the theme "risk and innovation".

He said, “the level of entries was incredibly high and there’s such a breadth of playwrights not just in Lichfield but across the country who are writing great work.

“The variety led to some very interesting reads, some exploring the darker side of politics in the current climate. All the submissions were entered without the author’s name on to make the judging impartial. I was pleased to find out that Rory and Ellie are local to Lichfield.”

After only one conversation about the theme and storyline, Payne and Galvin wrote Paradise by sending e-mails to each other. Once the play was written, they met once more to read through and check it.

Payne from Lichfield said, “Paradise explores themes of the post-truth, Brexit, Trump era. We describe it as Hunger Games meets Frankenstein meets 1984. Our play challenges the audience to reflect upon current social values and to question the future: what happens when we take it too far? Our innovative writing techniques fit well with both the theme of the competition and the futuristic setting of the play itself.”

Kiersten Leslie, originally from New Zealand who now lives in Stafford, commented, “Moving Pictures was inspired by a newspaper article passed on to me by a family member about a 1930 British film that was made by the Empire Marketing Board or one of its affiliates.

“This play is about a fictional member of the film-making team and how, after approaching the project with high hopes, he deals with colossal failure.”

The competition is part of the Garrick’s celebration of David Garrick’s 300th anniversary. The theatre is named after Garrick who was an English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who influenced nearly all aspects of theatrical practice throughout the 18th century. He was known as an innovator and risk taker.

Both plays will be given a staged reading in the Garrick’s Studio as part of Lichfield Festival on Friday 14 July.