A Lighthorne-nominated playwright has taken first place in a top national theatrical writing competition.
The play, A Frank Exchange, by Rugby Theatre’s Nick Marsh, has won the George Taylor Award, given annually by the National Drama Festivals Association.
His prize is a £250 cheque, a publishing deal with sponsors Stagescripts and a silver trophy with which Nick will be presented on stage at the climax of NDFA’s British All-Winner’s Finals at the Lamproom Theatre, Barnsley, later this month (July 2017).
The play will also be given a public “rehearsed reading” in which actors familiar with the script will read it on stage in a performance during the Finals week.
Nick’s play, set in occupied Holland during the Second World War, deals with the dilemmas facing secretary Heléna Classen, working for the Nazis, under pressure to pass on information from friends in the Resistance and who is also the mother of a handicapped son.
The playwright himself took the supporting role of German soldier Meinicke in the Rugby Theatre production which was performed at the Lighthorne Festival of One-Act Plays in June 2016.
The George Taylor Award is open to new plays performed at any of NDFA’s 40 associated Festivals nationwide during the year.
A judging panel then spends several months scrutinising dozens of plays nominated by member festivals before the winner is announced in time for the All-Winner’s event the following July.
Nick said he was “bowled over” when he received an email out of the blue from NDFA telling him of his success.
He added:” Lighthorne must take some of the credit – indeed the play wouldn’t have been written without the impetus of the event.
“Thank you so much, to everyone at Lighthorne, for providing such a great festival and such wonderful opportunities for the participants.”
Nick, a 48-year-old engineer who lives in Rugby, was a founder member of the Rugby Theatre Writers Group when it formed six years ago and is now its leader.
Rugby Theatre’s Artistic Director, Robert Sloan, said: “Playwriting is the bedrock of theatre and we all know the value of a great script, so we are incredibly lucky to have this raw talent in our midst.
“I am sure everyone will join me in congratulating the incredibly talented Nick Marsh. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer chap, really well done Nick.”
The winning play was the second Nick has written for the South Warwickshire festival which was launched only five years ago but has since acquired national acclaim.
It offers its winning group a £1,000 prize – the biggest in British amateur theatre – which under its rules it must share 50-50 with a registered charity of the winning group’s choice. The winners also get the chance to compete in the NDFA Finals and are handed a handsome engraved glass trophy to keep.
The 2017 Lighthorne winners, Didcot Phoenix Drama Group, will perform The Lesson by French playwright Eugene Ionesco in Barnsley on Monday July 17.
The rehearsed reading of Nick’s play takes place on stage in the theatre on Wednesday July 19 and he receives his trophy at the awards ceremony on Sunday July 23.
Lighthorne Festival chairman Rod Chaytor said:”We are absolutely thrilled for Nick and extremely proud of him as our nominee. There will be Lighthorne Festival representatives in the theatre to applaud him both for the rehearsed reading and the prize-giving.
“Lighthorne Festival is proud to encourage new work within a balanced programme – half of our plays were self-penned by competing groups this year.”
Next year’s Lighthorne Festival of One-Act Plays takes place between June 5 and June 9, 2018, with expressions of interest from entrants requested by October 31 of this year.