I studied Drama at Manchester University, and it was a given that every year some group of students would form a company and put on a show at the Edinburgh Festival. But in 1997, two of my contemporaries – Chris Sudworth and Richard Coupe – went one step further and got funding to run the Manchester Student Playwriting Competition, convincing some people from BBC Manchester and the Royal Exchange Theatre to act as judges. The first winner of the competition was a play called Life’s a Gatecrash, which won a Fringe First in Edinburgh and created a flurry of interest in its writer.
Chris was a friend, and as he knew I wrote he had mentioned the competition to me when it launched. My calling card play Wolfsong was entered in 1997, and came runner-up to Gatecrash. Then I heard every detail of the plays success from Helen Copley, the female lead in the play and one of my oldest friends. When Chris told me the play had recouped enough revenue to fund the competition for a second year, I was already determined that my entry would be the next Gatecrash.