Prestigious award for playwright

Robert Cooke was presented with his prize at a gala dinner held at Liverpool Hope University’s Creat

Robert Cooke was presented with his prize at a gala dinner held at Liverpool Hope Universitys Creative Campus - Credit: Alan Edwards

An aspiring playwright was “absolutely chuffed” to be recognised for his work by a panel of judges including screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce and actress Kathy Burke.

Robert Cooke, from Southwold, received a Highly Commended award at the inaugural Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize ceremony.

In the 22-year-old’s play, The Box, two men are stuck in a room with no obvious exit and only one object for company – a box containing whatever they wish. The action follows them as they try to determine who put them in the room, how they will escape, and what they will get from the box.

Other judges included playwright John Godber, broadcaster Paul Allen, Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre chief Kevin Fearon, drama lecturer Dr John Bennett and Liverpool Echo arts editor Catherine Jones.

More than 200 entries were received from around the country.

Mr Cooke graduated from Middlesex University in 2013 with a degree in Theatre Arts. That spring, he began working as an actor and technician with theatre company RIFT on a production of The Trial in Shoreditch. Since then he has worked as an artist in residence on projects including a site specific performance evening at Shoreditch Town Hall called The Wall, an overnight production of Macbeth in Balfron Tower, the ‘Shakespeare in Shoreditch’ festival, Monogram Murders at the Ritz for the launch of the new Poirot novel, and a performance night to accompany the Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition at the British Museum. He has most recently written and directed characters for the Promax entertainment industry conference with Channel 4.

Mr Cooke is also a freelance lighting designer and has worked as a venue technician at Mimetic Festival. He has just finished work as lighting designer and technician on the debut production of Skint at the Vault Festival 2015, and on I Am/The Island at The Camden People’s Theatre.

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He said: “I’m absolutely chuffed to have been Highly Commended for my work. In the current climate, with so many cuts to the arts, it is really encouraging to see that there are new prizes out there.

“I am planning on taking my play on tour, and being able to add that it has been Highly Commended by the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize should add some real prestige.

“I entered the competition because I have aspirations to be a playwright. The brief was also looking for plays with comedy at the heart which was well suited to the sort of work I want to produce.”