About Sussex Playwrights

For writers, producers, directors, actors and anyone with a passion for plays

Networking, meeting, reading and discussing new drama

Are you looking for an opportunity to showcase your play, explore a work-in-progress or listen to and discuss members’ plays?

Would you like to learn how to get your work professionally produced?

Meetings are held usually on the first Sunday evening [always check] of the month at the New Venture Theatre, Bedford Place, Brighton BN1 2PT.

Please note – although we meet at the NVT, Sussex Playwrights is not affiliated to the NVT and does not share membership.

Features include:

Guest speakers

Established writers, producers and performers talk about their careers, their work and their insights into how to get your work read, performed and broadcast.

Readings of members’ plays

By professional actors and experienced actors from local drama groups. All members are encouraged to discuss the play constructively, and make suggestions for improving, staging and marketing the play.

Writing workshops

Develop your writing with valuable group and individual exercises.


The Constance Cox Prize Playwriting Competition

Other events will be announced


The Summer Party in June and the Christmas Party


Membership costs £15 per year and entitles you to:

Free entry to all monthly meetings

Free wine or juice

One free entry to the annual Constance Cox Prize Playwriting Competition

You’ll be welcome to come along to any meeting and join on the night.

Visitors are always welcome to join us at meetings for a £3 contribution, which includes wine or juice.



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2016-17 Constance Cox Playwriting Competition news

Latest: Shortlist announced! Winners to be announced in July.

Sussex Playwrights Constance Cox Playwriting Competition 2016 – 17 latest news

July 2017 – The Winners

We will announce the winners at the July 2nd meeting

June 2017 – The Shortlist

At the June meeting, the committee agreed the shortlist:

The Other Apprentice
Rock and Chips
Storm in a League Cup
The Teaswell Incident

We’ll announce the winners at the July 2nd 2017 meeting.

April 2017 – The Longlist

Once in a Lifetime
Out of Darkness
Pass Words
Rock and Chips
Storm in a League Cup
The Other Apprentice
The Teaswell Incident
The Woman in Black II

January – March 2017 – The Judging

The longlist is currently being judged. The 48 plays are all currently being read by the committee to take us to the longlist stage, then we’ll announce the shortlist.

We’ll announce the results on Sussex Playwrights’ website, social media and the press, and at the meeting following the decision.

About the competition

Please note – the competition is now closed.

Back in May 2016, Sussex Playwrights were delighted to announce our prize playwriting competition to launch our 81st year:

“The competition is open to members and non-members, and you don’t have to live in Sussex or even in the UK to enter.

We invite all aspiring, new and working playwrights, including writers of stage, screen, radio and online drama [no age limit] to submit:

A 30-minute radio drama

Thriller / Mystery genre

For two to six actors

News: All shortlisted entries will be read by a radio producer, with the possibility of further commissions


First prize £150

Second prize £75

Third prize £50

All three winners also receive:

A rehearsed ‘script-in-hand’ reading with a discussion before an audience of members, writers’ family and friends, with the winners as special guests

A recording of your reading

A prize certificate


We don’t accept monologues or musicals

All plays must be written in English

All plays must be the original work of the writer and not an adaptation

They must not have been staged before a paying audience, broadcast or published, nor previously been given a reading at Sussex Playwrights

Your script must be suitable for general audiences

Practical advice on writing with impact for audio

From former BBC script reader and producer with B7 Productions and The Tablet Book Company, Simon Moorhead:

You can take a high budget filmic approach to audio writing that you can’t with theatre.

You can do anything film can do and more on a low budget audio production

Take risks with your storytelling, characters and dialogue

Sound effects are great – they really do work

Exotic locations, extreme situations and very physical scenes [murderous fight scenes, love scenes]

You can have big crowds – layering sound is possible

You can go outside – go anywhere you like

Think about the logistics of recording

You can have many characters but maximum six versatile actors – think costs

You can have very very short scenes; a one liner, a bit of sound

Formatting – ensure the scene start at the top of the page, don’t run on one character’s dialogue over two pages [avoids page rustling and the actor breaking the flow to turn over]

Number the lines of dialogue – this makes it easy to do retakes

Keep dialogue short generally – although this is not prescriptive

Keep the story moving on, make it a journey so it’s different at the end

Sending your entry

Email each script entry in a separate email to chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Your email subject line: Constance Cox / play’s title / writer’s pseudonym

Include in the text of your email:

Play’s title
Writer’s real name
Postal address
E-mail contact

Attach your script as a PDF with all pages clearly numbered

We do not accept print copies

The title page must contain the play’s title and writer’s pseudonym

The real name and contact details of the writer must not appear anywhere on the script

Update – this competition is now ended.

We’ll announce the results on Sussex Playwrights’ website, social media and the press, and at the meeting following the decision.

Sussex Playwrights reserves the right to withhold all or part of the prize money or other prizes if we receive insufficient entries, or they are not of an acceptable standard.

Sussex Playwrights reserves the right to award further prizes at our discretion.

The judges’ decision is final and we do not enter into any correspondence.

‘Like’ the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page for the latest news and links www.facebook.com/sussexplaywrights

Follow us on Twitter @PlaywrightsClub

Contact us

Please note – the competition is now closed.

Take part

How to have your work read and discussed at a meeting

Work in progress or for sharing

We’re looking to members and guests to take part in meetings and showcase their work

If you’d like to have actors read an excerpt from your latest script in progress for discussion [10 minute slot]

If you’d like to read an excerpt from your latest fiction or non-fiction on the night [10 minute slot]

If you’d prefer to have someone read it for you, if you’re happier writing than speaking

Please contact us chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Ideas for guest speakers

If you can suggest a great guest speaker for one of our meetings – please get in touch with us.

Ideas for workshops

Are there any particular workshops you’d like to have as part of a meeting?

Suggestions so far include:Reading aloud to an audience – For authors, being able to deliver an excerpt from your poetry, fiction or non fiction to an audience can raise your profile and increase your sales

Acting script-in-hand for beginners – being able to take a script and bring it to life with a group reading is a great skill for writers, and can help you appreciate what makes dialogue playable

Crowd funding your writing – how writers can create their own fundraising project online to support themselves and their creative work.

Audio drama performance skills – an essential toolkit of skills for anyone interested in performing audio drama

Please contact us

Follow and share

Send us your latest news and successes to feature on social media

‘Like’ the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page for the latest news and links

Follow us on Twitter @PlaywrightsClub

Our history

A brief look at Sussex Playwrights’ 80+ year history

Club History
Celebrating 80+ Years Of Creativity: 1935 – 2017
Compiled and updated by Trevor Harvey

Sir Peter Shaffer was one of the greatest writers of our time. For many years he served as our Honorary President and was a staunch supporter of the Sussex Playwrights’ Club, its members and work. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

The Sussex Playwrights’ Club was founded in 1935 by Charles Walker, initially with a membership of five others, in the Circle Bar at the Theatre Royal, Brighton. Charles belonged to The Southwick Players and they would occasionally perform plays by members. From the start, the Club has been intended for both beginners and professionals, as a place where work can be tried out and responses given in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

The Club first met at Brighton Little Theatre but later moved to Cooks Hotel at the Old Steine. The President was Hamilton Fyfe, a distinguished retired journalist and good friend of George Bernard Shaw. Among early readings was one of LOTTIE DUNDASS by Enid Bagnold, who had already written NATIONAL VELVET and who lived nearby in Rottingdean. Her friend, the impresario C B Cochran travelled down from London to attend the reading and a production of LOTTIE DUNDASS reached the West End in 1943.

In 1945, a ‘Thank The Forces’ fund was set up locally. The SPC held a public play reading of Constance Cox’s NINE DAYS’ WONDER in the Music Room at the Royal Pavilion, which quickly sold out. Among the readers was the stage and film actor James Hayter. In 1945, the Connaught Theatre, Worthing launched a one-act play competition and it was won by SPC member Vera Arlett, with THIS IS THE GATE. The Club hired The Playhouse Theatre (London) for a week in 1948 and staged THUNDER IN SPRING, a play by SPC member Dorothy Pearson.

By the early 1960s, the Club was meeting monthly at The New Venture Theatre at the invitation of its founder, A Graham Phillips. He was very supportive of the Club and would consider staging plays by SPC members. In January 1967, R C Mansell Woodhouse was the Club’s President and the Club’s Vice- Presidents were Madame Florence Moore (who ran a Theatre Studio in Hove) and Dame Sybil Thorndyke.

For the first-ever Brighton Festival in 1967, SPC was responsible for arranging a National Theatre Open Forum at the Royal Pavilion, with a panel including Tom Stoppard, Kenneth Tynan and Walter Esselinck (of The Gardner Centre) – and with John Stride and Edward Petherbridge performing an excerpt from the recently opened and well-received play, ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD.

By 1974, the impresario Henry Sherwood was the Club’s President and a play competition was set up and named after him. The farceur Philip King became the Vice-President and would often be present at the Club’s monthly meetings. For some years, Ethel Bale – a speech and drama lecturer at The Florence Moore Theatre Studios – was the Club’s Secretary. The prolific stage and television dramatist Constance Cox held various committee roles, being with SPC for over forty years; these included Treasurer and Secretary, holding the latter role for many years until her death in 1998. She was someone always willing to offer constructive advice to fellow playwrights, whether they were experienced professionals or complete beginners – and the financial legacy she left to the Club helped to ensure its continuing success.

Among the various SPC Chairmen were Bruce Avis (then the Head of Westdene Junior School) who had joined the Club at the age of 16 in 1939; Geoff Owen, a respected actor with local groups; Neil McKellar (who also had the role of secretary) and headteacher and writer, George Shepherd. In recent years, the role of Chairman has been taken by Rex Baker, Dennis Evans, Patti Page, Nicholas Quirke, Carole Bremson, Trevor Harvey and Jerry Attwood. For around ten years, following the death of Connie, Dennis Evans was the Club’s hard-working Secretary, a role currently held by Peter Poole. The Club’s quarterly newsletter was edited and produced by Lucy Nordberg and later by Trevor Harvey. Currently, it takes the form of a monthly e-letter produced for members by Peter Poole. The Club’s website was originally set up by Nicholas Quirke and is now operated by Ian Black (who also maintains the New Venture website).

The Club usually runs an annual playwriting competition which is open to all-comers and the details appear on the website.

The Club’s 70th anniversary in 2005 was marked by the unveiling of a plaque in the Circle Bar at the Theatre Royal. The playwright and novelist Simon Brett was the guest speaker at a special function held in a Hove hotel. At the 75th anniversary event, the distinguished writer and West End director Patrick Garland (who had also been in charge of Chichester Festival Theatre for an eight year period) was the special guest speaker.

The Club’s 80th anniversary in 2015 was marked by a party attended by the Mayor and a rehearsed reading performance of the winning Constance Cox Competition play The Normandy Conquests, by David Weir.

The respected stage and television actor Paul Moriarty, who has also been the final judge for the annual play competitions, served as our Honorary Vice President until 2016. Thank you Paul for all your support and best wishes for the future.

The committee for 2016-7

Philippa Hammond Chair
Deborah Knowles Vice Chair
Thomas Everchild Secretary
Jerry Attwood Treasurer
Simon Jenner and Cherie Cherchie Committee Members

The roles of Honorary President and Vice President are currently open