Students Staff

21 May 2014

Be inspired by a literary giant and apply for the Derek Walcott Scholarship for Playwriting

Scene from O Starry Starry Night

Scene from O Starry Starry Night

Talented writers have until Monday 9 June to apply for the prestigious Derek Walcott Scholarship for Playwriting.

The announcement of the scholarship coincides with the opening of a new Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre production of Walcott’s Omeros, which is being rehearsed at Lakeside Theatre and will open at the Colchester Campus on Thursday 22 May, before transferring to London.

The new scholarship is worth £3,600 and was created to help a gifted student study MA Playwriting at Essex from autumn 2014.

The creative partnership between Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies has made the scholarship possible.

From 2010 to 2013, Walcott’s visits to the University of Essex reignited interest in his theatrical work in the UK and Europe with thrilling new productions developed at the University's Lakeside Theatre including a revival of Pantomime and the world premiere of his play O Starry Starry Night. The proceeds from a performance of O Starry Starry Night are being used to support the scholarship.

Playwright Liz Kuti said: “This Scholarship is a tangible legacy of Derek’s visits to Essex over several years and the plays he has directed and premiered here at Essex. I am sure it will be of lifelong benefit to the person who is awarded the scholarship and we want to encourage applications from all ages and background.

“We think this will make a big difference to a talented emerging playwright who is keen to apply for our unique and innovative course – a course which celebrates and promotes the values of theatre, language, and the craft of writing in a way which I hope Walcott, as a distinguished teacher of Creative Writing himself, would approve!"

Walcott’s work is a key focus for the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, with several leading scholars of Caribbean literature based at Essex. Glyn Maxwell, one of the teaching team on MA Playwriting, was also taught drama and poetry by Derek Walcott at Boston University and just completed editing The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 published in January.

Liz said: “We hope receiving the Derek Walcott Scholarship for Playwriting and having it on their CV will open doors for a writer, not just while they are completing their MA Playwriting, but beyond that into their careers and professional lives.”

MA Playwriting at Essex combines practice and theory, allowing students to develop their unique voice as dramatists, forge professional links with theatres and arts organisations, and encourage them to explore a variety of media and writing contexts.

The course is looking to foster the next generation of playwrights, researchers, workshop-leaders, dramaturgs and theatre critics with students creating a unique portfolio of scripts. To complete the course they will either write a full-length play, under one-to-one supervision; or undertake a work placement in an arts organisation or theatre.

Liz said the University of Essex was a focal point for the development of new and exciting theatre.

“We believe theatre is essential to a healthy society and are committed to the craft and art of playwriting. The tutors on MA Playwriting are all active playwrights and the Department has have so much playwriting talent amongst our students. We also have the Lakeside Theatre under Barbara Peirson’s artistic directorship which is fast becoming a hub for developing playwrights in the region.”

For an informal chat or for further information about the course or the Scholarship, please email Elizabeth Kuti at To apply for the Scholarship, you need first to apply for a place on MA Playwriting. Please contact Jane Thorp on if you have any admissions queries.

The closing date for applications for the Derek Walcott Scholarship for Playwriting is Monday 9 June 2014.

Full terms and conditions and details of how to apply can be found on our fees and scholarships pages.

More about the course

Liz says: “Our MA Playwriting is unique in that it covers so many aspects of playwriting. It invites students to explore heightened language and poetic drama, by working with Glyn Maxwell, who himself was taught drama and poetry by Derek Walcott at Boston University – so the course itself is indebted, indirectly, to Derek Walcott’s work!

“We also want to encourage playwrights to explore practical and applied contexts for their craft. It’s fantastic to have Rebecca Prichard as a tutor on the MA Playwriting, whose work at the Royal Court and for Clean Break Theatre Company has won international renown. She’s teaching playwriting within the context of communities, in educational groups, or with people whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system.

“The skills students learn through facilitating writing workshops, by integrating social research into drama and scripts for theatre or radio, not only challenges and develops them artistically but is a highly practical training in core skills that will be of use to them throughout their lives in many professional settings.

“Jonathan Lichtenstein’s work on scenes, and on tragic structure in relation to contemporary issues, is also a foundational aspect of the course at Essex; and my experience as a dramatist for BBC radio means that I can involve students directly in developing, pitching, and writing radio scripts, and then recording them in the University’s own studio – a process very close to that which the professional writer for radio goes through.

“We’re also thrilled to have the chance now to take students to work our Loughton Campus with MA Acting students at East 15 Acting School. Having an acting school as part of our University is an invaluable resource for MA Playwriting students and one which we want to continue to develop further. “

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