2016 TF Evans Shaw Society £500 Writing Award (entry £8/£5)

This annual writing competition is held in memory of T.F. Evans, longtime editor of the Shaw Society Journal.  The prize is offered for an additional scene to a play by Bernard Shaw.  It will be offered to the entry that most impresses the judges, who will be looking for that combination of features for which Shaw was famous: wit and wordplay within a social and political context.  The T.F. Evans Award is open to all.

Prize:  The winning entry will receive £500.  The winning entry will also be performed at a Shaw Society event.

What you pay:  The entry fee is £8, though a concession rate of £5 is offered to students.

What to submit:  Full entry guidelines can be found on their website.

  • Entrants can submit as many entries as they wish, but the fee must be paid for each entry.
  • Total length must be between 2,500 and 4,000 words.
  • The scene can be set in any time frame and can take place before, during, or after any other scene in any of Shaw’s plays.

How to apply:  The name of the entrant must not appear anywhere on the play text but must appear on a separate title page.

Entries can be emailed to tfevansaward@shawsociety.org.uk.

Deadline:  31 March 2016

Source:  Play Submissions Helper

Pursued By A Bear: “Playwrights make no money, should I do something else?”

Pursued By A Bear is our weekly advice column with playwright Adam Taylor.  He’ll tackle your playwriting questions – from practical issues to existential dilemmas – relying on nothing but his bare wits, brute strength, and questionable personal experiences.   

“I’ve heard playwrights earn hardly anything. Should I write screenplays or novels instead?”

It’s easy to say we do it for the love. But it’s difficult to pay for a home, food and clothes with love alone. The stereotype of the starving artist is a reality for a lot of writers. Can we expect to make a decent living from writing alone? And if not, what are the alternatives?

Recognition is great, expressing yourself is incredible and working with talented artists is fantastic, but when Valentine’s Day is coming up and you haven’t collected enough Tesco Clubcard points to take your significant other to Pizza Express you find yourself wishing you had money too.

So what’s the answer? Should we all abandon the theatre and go to Hollywood? Or do we shut ourselves indoors for six months and write that debut novel?

I hate to say it, but both of these avenues are just as likely to end in despair (and bankruptcy) as writing plays. If you’re writing films or books you’re going to come up against the same lack of funds at the start of your career. And worse still, they’re possibly even more competitive industries because there’s a perception of great financial reward if you’re successful.

If you read a lot of interviews with screenwriters and novelists it also becomes apparent that a lot of them are quite disillusioned about their earnings. By the time money’s taken out for agents, publicists, producers and whatever else, the pay isn’t quite what they expected. Plus these are fickle industries where you’re subject to highly volatile market trends.

And it takes ages to write a novel.

A lot of playwrights actually move into film or novel writing later in their careers because the theatre gives them the recognition they need to get a foot in the door in those industries.

Is it true that playwrights earn hardly anything? It’s obviously relative to how prolific and in demand you are. However, I remember hearing a few years back from a highly-regarded writer that the biggest commission you could hope for as a playwright would be around £10,000. He had received something in this region for a commission at the National Theatre.

This sounded like a lot of money to me. At the time, ten grand would have probably lasted me five years. But the more I thought about it, the less impressive it seemed.

The average salary in the UK is £26,500, so for every year you spend doing unpaid projects for the love at the start of your career, the average person is banking roughly £20,767 after tax. If I’m generous and you spend a mere three years slogging away at it before getting commissioned by The National, you’re already £62,301 in the theoretical hole.

That ten grand suddenly doesn’t look so generous.

But let’s ignore the potential earnings you missed; you made a choice to become a playwright and you presumably suspected it would be a long, hard road. For the sake of argument we’ll take the £10,000 commission at face value.

In order to earn the UK average salary as a playwright you’d have to get three plays commissioned. That’s if you’re lucky enough to place plays with the biggest theatres, which very few people are able to do more than once a year. You will of course be paid royalties, but this is highly variable and depends on the number of tickets sold. The reality is you’d probably have to take loads of smaller commissions to get anywhere near that £26,500 mark.

How many plays can you write in a year?

And of those plays, how many will be produced? How many of those productions will turn a profit?

Personally I struggled to churn out more than three full-length plays a year even when I was writing full time. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s one play every four months. When you count the time you spend researching, planning, writing and rewriting I don’t think it’s too far from the average. I also spent some of my time attending rehearsals, readings and shows.

That £26,500 is looking like a pretty unattainable goal at this point right?

And don’t forget, most playwrights aren’t just playwrights. When you’re starting out, you’re likely to be your own publicist, agent and manager. If you go the route of producing your own plays you may also find yourself taking on the roles of stage manager, transport manager, director, actor and lighting assistant.

I never bothered counting up the hours I spent working, because I really did love what I was doing, but as a full time writer I’m certain I was earning well below the minimum wage per hour.

If you’re in it for the money, do not be a playwright. I’d also say don’t aim to write films or novels unless you’re comfortable with gambling a lot of time on the promise of success later on.

So what about people like myself (and I’m presuming you) who love writing but don’t love being destitute or relying on the good graces of others? What can we do?

After around three years of writing full-time I took a part-time job to supplement my puny income. This kept me going for another couple of years, but when the writing money never really materialised I had to do some serious thinking about the situation.

After much soul-searching and head-scratching I decided I would have to take a full-time job. Not because I needed money, but because I needed a life.

I can now buy a sandwich without checking my bank balance. I can replace my trainers before they begin to resemble sandals. I can take holidays abroad instead of never taking holidays. I get paid leave, I can stay at home if I’m sick, I have a pension.

I’ve even paid off a bit of my student loan. Not much, but it’s definitely smaller.

Am I still writing?


Is it easy to balance it with a full-time job?


But it wasn’t easy writing full-time either. Aside from the motivation required to work solo all the time, it was actually a real challenge to get inspired.

You need something to write about, and in one way or another, that comes from your experiences. If all you experience is the inside of your bedroom because you have no money to do anything, you won’t have a lot to write about.

Now I spend forty hours a week in the office working. Obviously it’s a challenge to fit writing in around my work week but I get a lot of inspiration from being with other human beings all day. I meet new people all the time, I learn all kinds of things I would never otherwise know and I get different perspectives on life.

Then when I do have a few hours free to do some writing, I’m highly motivated because I know I don’t have a lot of time.

I’ve heard it said that most playwrights have a second job. There are plenty of careers out there which require writing as a skill. I’ve met playwrights who work as copywriters, lecturers and journalists. I believe there are even bloggers out there who can command a tidy sum.

Some feel that writing all day in a work capacity is counterproductive if you want to write creatively in your spare time. I don’t personally find this a problem, but if you do there are literally thousands of unrelated jobs out there.

Look at work as part of your eternal quest to accumulate knowledge and life experience. John Grisham was a criminal lawyer before becoming a successful writer, and he relies heavily on that experience to inform his writing. David Simon was a crime reporter before he created The Wire. J.R.R Tolkien was a soldier and later a university lecturer. J.K. Rowling worked for Amnesty International before writing Harry Potter.

Life is expensive and unfortunately when you’re starting out, writing doesn’t pay well (if at all). If you really love it and want to continue, I don’t think it’s realistic to make a move from playwriting to screenwriting or novel writing just for the sake of money. You’re unlikely to find it more lucrative in those early years.

If you love writing plays you should stick with it. And if, like me, you also like money, you’d better get an alternative source of income on the go. At the very worst you’ll spend a significant number of hours doing something you hate to finance doing something you love, while gaining some valuable life experience. If you’re lucky you’ll find something that pays the bills without gradually chipping away at your sanity.

My day job definitely wasn’t a childhood dream, but now that I’m here I do quite enjoy it. I’ve met some amazing people I wouldn’t otherwise know, I occasionally get to travel to exotic locales like Cardiff and Sheffield, I play football in the staff league and sometimes I get the great satisfaction of helping to improve someone else’s life.

Now I just need to find the time to write about it.

Have a question or problem you’d like to send in?  Email advice@londonplaywrightsblog.com and keep your eyes peeled to see if the answer turns up on our site!

(DISCLAIMER: If you send us a question, you’re giving us permission to publish it!  Be sure to indicate what name you’d like us to use as a sign-off when we publish your column, and a just a heads up that we reserve the right to edit submissions for length if needed.)

BBC/ The Northern Film School seeking short film scripts

Do you write or would you like to write short film scripts? Have you ever wanted to see your short film made and screened for audiences?

The Northern Film School is looking for a series of short films that students can make during their period of study. We need in the range of 16 compelling short fictional films of no more than three minutes in length.

Enter our short film competition to get your film made. 16 scripts will be selected for production by a panel of students, tutors and industry personnel, and one script will also be selected for a Special Merit Award, and awarded £100 worth of Amazon vouchers.

We want film scripts that are interesting and challenging in nature but simple to make. Your scripts can be on any subject or theme and we are looking for compelling storytelling that adheres to the following criteria:

• 3 minutes in duration

• Have a maximum of 4 characters

• Are set in a maximum of 2 locations or 1 set

• Have locations that can be found within the Yorkshire region

• Do not contain visual effects unless very minumal and simple to achieve

If your script is chosen you will need to consent to a programme of script editing to ensure it will work effectively for production. The winning films will be made in the 2016/17 academic year. You will be invited to the screening and will receive a credit on the film.

Feedback on scripts will be offered dependent on the volume of submissions and will be provided by supervised students during undergraduate study in the 2016/17 year.

The closing date for all entries is the 1st April 2016.

Please submit a copy of your script by email to:


Please write 3 MIN SCRIPT COMP in the subject header of the email. All scripts should be correctly formatted and clearly written. Please write your name and contact details on the script cover page only so that it can be removed for anonymous selection of films.

Please contact NorthernFilmSchool@leedsbeckett.ac.uk if you have any questions.

Deadline: 1 April 2016

Source: BBC Writersroom

Opportunities Weekly Round-up: 26 February 2016

Our weekly Friday round-up of opportunities listed on the blog that haven’t yet reached their closing date (listed in order of closing date).  Opportunities are grouped into four sections: 1) Pick of the Week & featured posts; 2) Opportunities with Deadlines; 3) Workshops and Events; 4) Ongoing opportunities (no deadline).

Want to be sure you never miss an opportunity?  Sign up for our email list to get the weekly roundup direct to your inbox!

Our latest opportunities Pick of the Week: Liverpool Hope Playwriting Competition Open for Submissions (Comedy)

This week in our advice column: Pursued By A Bear:  How do I know which competitions are worth my time? 

Coming up with London Playwrights’ Workshop: 

Spring Workshops with London Playwrights’ Blog

Intensive workshop: Finding Inspiration and Developing your Idea – 5 March 2016

Intensive workshop: Creating Engaging Characters – 17 March 2016

Opportunities with deadlines:

Play Submissions Helper – 66 playwriting competitions with February deadlines – Various deadlines

Octagon Prize for Dramatic Monologues – Deadline: 26 February 2016

Call for theatre proposals for the Space’s Summer Season (June-September 2016) – Deadline: 26 February 2016

Almost Random Theatre seeking short plays for ‘The Vegan Playwriting Competition’ – Deadline: 27 February 2016

Nickelodeon Writing Program – Open for Submissions – Deadline: 28 February 2016

Drift Shop accepting submissions of short pieces of writing for scratch night – Deadline: 28 February 2016

TheatreCentre seeking writers for PSHE teaching pilot (paid) – Deadline: 7 March 2016

Theatre503 Playwriting Award returning in 2016 –  Deadline: 29 February 2016

Rebel Without Crew Films seeking shorts for production (female writers only) – Deadline: 29 February 2016

Chorlton Arts Festival offer commissions for Theatre Exterior: Stage/Play (£500 commission) – Deadline: 29 February 2016

New Competition Launched with Drama Centre London, Bush Theatre, Oberon Books and Partners – Deadline: 1 March 2016 (entries open 15 February 2016)

George Devine Award 2016 open to submissions – Deadline: 1 March 2016

Cut Throat Theatre Company looking for scripts for Camden Fringe – Deadline: -2 March 2016

Sky or the Bird seeking writers for The Adults Adventure Playground (Calais Benefit) – Deadline: 2 March 2016

Interval Productions seeking new musicals for Made In LDN – Deadline: none posted but successful applicants will be notified by 3 March 2016

Barrel Organ seeking scratch submissions for ‘LIVE’ at Camden People’s Theatre – Deadline: 4 March 2016

Kevin Spacey Foundation open to 2016 applications for £10,000 Artists of Choice programme – Deadline: 4 March 2016

Windsor Fringe – Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing 2016 – Deadline: 5 March 2016

Sky Academy Arts Scholarships – Theatre & Comedy (18-30 year olds) – Deadline: 10 March 2016

Sedos seeking 10 minute scripts for production in London & Edinburgh (£5 entry fee) – Deadline: 11 March 2016

Moonlit Wings Playwriting Contest 2016 for writing for young people (Washington, DC) – Deadline: 14 March 2016

IdeasTap Innovators Fund – now open through Hiive – Deadline: 18 March 2016

About Love’ Festival of short plays call for submissions (Canada $10 entry fee/ $150 prize – Deadline: 20 March 2016

Sky Blue Theatre accepting one-act plays for British Theatre Challenge (£16 fee) – Deadline: 30 March 2016

Front Row Theatre Company looking for scripts – Deadline: 31 March 2016

Blue Skies Workshops for writers from Sky or the Bird – Deadline: 31 March 2016

The Production Exchange seeking play submissions for development – Deadline: 31 March 2016

2016 Papatango Prize Opens – with extra £6000 award! – Deadline: 31 March 2016

University of Wolverhampton accepting proposals for POP Drama – Deadline: 31 March 2016

Chesil Theatre’s 10×10 Playwriting Competition seeking 10 minute plays inspired by the life of David Bowie – Deadline: 22 April 2016

Nick Darke Writers’ Award 2016 open for entries – Deadline: 30 May 2016

ShowBiz Shorts Playwriting Contest (Los Angeles) – Deadline: 30 May 2016

Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize open for submissions (comedy) – Deadline: 31 May 2016

Le Théâtre Bleu seeking submissions of comedies in Shakespearean language (Quebec, Canada) – Deadline: 1 July 2016

2016 Terence Rattigan Society Award (£10 entry fee, £2,500 prize) – Deadline: 31 August 2016

365 Women A Year Playwriting Project open to submissions throughout 2016 – Deadline: 31 December 2016


Events and workshops: 

Theatre503 Writer’s Night for ‘Four Play’ – Wednesday 17 February 2016

Write to Shine morning online writing course (£5) –  18 February to 10 March 2016

Free Online Screenwriting Course with University of East Anglia, Creative Skillset and Future Learn – Starts on 29 February 2016

London Playwrights’ Workshop: INTENSIVE WORKSHOP – Finding Inspiration and Developing your Idea – 5 March 2016

Playwriting Workshop with Papercut Theatre – 13 March 2016

National Theatre Course: developing your play with Jemma Kennedy (£450 bursaries available) – Every Wednesday from 16 March until 19 May 2016, 10am – 1pm

London Playwrights’ Workshop: INTENSIVE WORKSHOP – Creating Engaging Characters – 17 March 2016

BBC Comedy Workshop (Glasgow) – 20 March 2016 1pm – 2.30pm


Ongoing submissions:

Opportunities to hear your play with Player Playwrights – Ongoing submissions

Online Playwriting Course with Live Theatre (£95-£495) – rolling

Playwrights Circle at the Bread & Roses – Ongoing (monthly event)

The Institute of Other seeking creative practitioners – Deadline: none posted

White Hart Trust Studios seeking international and foreign language theatre – Deadline: none posted

Pokfulam Rd Productions looking for playwrights and creatives – Deadline: none posted

55 Kings Contemporary Theatre Productions looking for writers – Deadline: none posted

Plane Paper Theatre call out for plays – Deadline: none posted

Theatrelab seeking scripts to perform at ‘WordPlay’ at Bath Spa University – Deadline: none posted

Londonville Lit offering reading slots – Deadline: none posted

Madam Renards Mini Fringe Festival Swindon open for applications from writers and performers – Deadline: none posted (festival takes place in 2016)

East End Literary Salon open to rolling submissions – Deadline: Rolling

Orange Tea Theatre accepting submissions – Deadline: Rolling

Funding available for students at Glasgow University MLitt Playwriting & Dramaturgy – Deadline: None posted

Everything Theatre accepting plays for podcast readings – Deadline: None posted

The Cockpit Theatre seeking work for scratch nights – No deadline posted but performances take place on the first Monday of the month.

Shred Productions open to submissions – Deadline: None (open submissions)

Poppy Seed – accepting submissions of 5 minute scripts for blog – Deadline: None posted

COG ARTSpace call out for playwrights! – Deadline: None

University Women in the Arts – new scheme launched by MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London

MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins, the Women of the Future Programme and Writers at Work Productions announce new scheme for female students studying the arts

The new MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins, the Women of the Future Programme and Writers at Work Productions, supported by Tonic Theatre, are launching a new competition for female students studying the arts at Universities across the UK.

University Women in the Arts will be a one off scheme to help mentor female students studying the arts at University level on making the transition into working in and leading the way in the arts.

10 female students studying the arts at University level will be selected for the scheme to be mentored over the course of a year by 12 women who are leading the way in the arts in the UK.

Mentors include Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre, Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet, Amanda Foreman, writer, academic and presenter including of the recent series The Ascent of Women, Joanna Prior, Managing Director of Penguin Books and a board member of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and Tanya Seghatchian, film producer of films including the Harry Pottery series and My Summer of Love.

The competition will launch at a launch event on March 4th at 7pm at Central Saint Martins.

Following the launch event, female students studying arts subjects at Universities across the UK can apply to be part of the scheme, with full details to be announced at the launch and available on a website after the launch.

The scheme is being launched to address why more female students study arts subjects at University level but less make the transition to working in and leading the way in the arts, for example recent statistics revealed that only 30% of artists represented by galleries in London are female and only 31% of professional playwrights are female[1], yet at University of the Arts London, Europe’s largest University specializing in the arts, over 70% of students are female. The statistics present a similar picture nationwide.

Launch date:  4 March 2016 

Free tickets to the launch event, which takes place at Central Saint Martins on March 4th 2016 at 7pm, will be allocated on a first come first served basis and can be booked at www.platform-theatre.com

  • Editors Note for LPB: We’ll be sure to keep you updated with all the details after the launch date*

Source: direct contact


Opportunities: Our Pick of the Week – Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize open for submissions (comedy)

Each week we look through our pile of writing opportunities to pick out one we think is particularly worth your time. It could be an innovative brief, great prize money, a high-profile company, or just plain fun.

This week’s pick: Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize open for submissions (comedy)

Description: The second Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize is now open for entries. One comedy writer will walk away with £10,000 and the opportunity to have their play considered for production by Liverpool’s Royal Court, while up to two Highly Commended awards of £1,500 will also be on offer. New judges for this year include comedian and actor Les Dennis, playwright Amanda Whittington, editor of The Stage Alistair Smith and last year’s winner Katie Mulgrew. Budding playwrights have until May 31st 2016 to submit their comedy stage play. This year’s competition is open to anyone over the age of 18 in any UK territory or the Republic of Ireland.

So, what’s so great about it?  Well, we have to admit that this one is a bit controversial because they do charge a £20 entry fee. Whilst we appreciate that entry fees (rightly) spark debate amongst writers, we though it was a worth flagging this one up because it’s a fairly prestigious award and the prizes are great! One writer will win a whopping £10K and their play will be considered for production at the Liverpool Royal Court. There are some high profile judges involved and the competition is well covered in the press. We’re speculating here but since the entry criteria is limited to comedy, there may be slightly fewer entrants than some of the more general playwriting competitions  so that will only increase your chances, right? We’ve given you plenty of notice with this one, the deadline is 31 May, so you’ve got time to get that comedy you’ve been writing up to scratch!

Read the full details here.

Please note, we’ve posted this for your convenience and we’re not affiliated with the organisers of the opportunity in any way.

Cut Throat Theatre Company looking for scripts for Camden Fringe


Cut Throat Theatre Company are looking for a script to perform at this year’s Camden Fringe Festival – Could it be yours?

Cut Throat Theatre Company comprises of Stephanie Gross and Emily French, both graduates of Middlesex University (2012). Having set up their own theatre company in early 2014 they are both passionate and dedicated theatre practitioners who are committed to creating seamless work.

After the success of Cut Throat’s show ‘Injuries of Class’ at the Hen And Chickens in 2015 and their debut play ‘A Game Of Love’ at the Moors Bar Theatre in 2014 they are now looking for a creative writer to join their team.

How to apply: They are looking for a piece with a running time of 60 minutes with up to five characters (not gender specific). If this sounds like something you are interested in, please send over a synopsis of your piece and character breakdowns to cutthroattc@hotmail.com.

Deadline: 2 March 2016

Source: Arts Jobs

Pursued By A Bear: “How do I know which competitions are worth my time?”

Pursued By A Bear is our weekly advice column with playwright Adam Taylor.  He’ll tackle your playwriting questions – from practical issues to existential dilemmas – relying on nothing but his bare wits, brute strength, and questionable personal experiences.   

“I read the roundup every week and it’s really useful to hear about the opportunities out there.  But I have a question about this.  Lots of competitions ask for plays on specific themes/genres. Is it a waste of my time to write something for a brief like this when I might not win?”

I can see how it might sometimes seem like a waste of time to write something specific for a competition. Especially if it’s a subject or genre you have absolutely no interest in. Why should you spend time on a script you’re not really invested in when it might not be selected anyway? What’s in it for you?

And who are these people to tell you what you should write about? Why would they want to stifle your creativity with these lengthy application forms? How dare they dangle a prize in front of your face like a carrot to a donkey?

You could win a full production! Or a rehearsed reading! Or an unrehearsed reading! Or a handshake from the artistic director! Or a free drink at the theatre bar!*

*Prize of one free drink subject to purchase of a ticket for a show, excluding matinee performances.

Is it enough to enter a competition for the slim chance of gaining exposure? And do you even want the exposure if it’s for a play you don’t really care about that you only wrote to meet the criteria of a competition?

As with all things in life, it’s about weighing up the costs and rewards.


Writing a play for a competition will cost you time. Time writing it, time attending the production/reading if you win, time moaning about it if you lose. That’s time you could be spending on a play you actually want to write. Or time you could spend mowing the lawn, launching water balloons at your neighbour’s cat or building a life-sized replica of yourself out of papier mache.

It will also cost you creative energy. I’m not sure if everyone has a limited amount of this at their disposal, but I find myself starting to drag if I’m working on too many creative projects at once. If you’re like me you may need to put other things on hold to knock out a competition entry.

And finally, it will cost you a chunk of self-esteem if you don’t win. It’s one thing to write a play out of love and have it rejected by a theatre you’ve submitted to, but it’s a whole different level of bitterness that rears its ugly head when you specifically write the exact play they asked for and they’re all like “Actually nah, we prefer this guy’s play.”


If you win, there’s an actual, tangible reward. In the form of a prize, which may well require you to do more work. Congratulations. Seriously though, sometimes the prizes in these things are amazing. A year-long residence with a respected theatre company? Yes please.

Even if you don’t win, you have a new play. Possibly a play you didn’t want, but whatever, it might be good.

Whatever happens, you got some practice in. Writers need to write, and if you feel a competition will give you the kick up the arse you need then it’s absolutely worth it. A deadline might be just what you require to get over your usual procrastination; “I could write something now, but I really want to know if I can strip this wallpaper with the power of my mind. There’s always tomorrow.”

You have the satisfaction of having risen to the challenge. Like most things in life (except winning), it’s the taking part that counts. You stood up and were counted. Maybe you didn’t win, but you gave it your best shot. No risk, no reward.

So where does this leave you?

Most of the time people weigh up the costs against the rewards they’ll get if they win. This doesn’t factor in the possibility you won’t win, and while it’s great to be positive and confident, it might skew your decision making.

If the rewards you’ll get without winning don’t seem worth it, you might reconsider entering if you feel there’s a more productive way to use that time.

For example, say there’s a competition to write a play about competitive angling with a fantastic prize of a year’s residency at the National Theatre. Considering you have no interest whatsoever in fish, boats, maggots, folding chairs or the drama inherent in sitting by a canal for hours on end, the rewards will be very small if you don’t win. You’ll have a play you don’t particularly like and the satisfaction of slogging through it. On the costs side you’ll spend a lot of time researching something you have no desire to learn about, then even more time writing about it.

But there’s another competition you could enter at the same time. This one is much smaller, with the prize of a rehearsed reading in a fringe theatre. They want you to write a biographical play about the turbulent life of accomplished actor, rapper and underwear model Mark Wahlberg; a subject you feel passionate about and have been researching obsessively since the days of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. You were born to write this play.

Would you go for the big money prize or settle for the little one?

If we weigh up the costs and rewards, it’s obvious you should go for the smaller competition. You’ll be writing about something you probably plan to write about at some point anyway, and you’re more likely to end up with a great play because you care about the subject. The prize is a lot smaller and the topic is ever so slightly more niche so less people will enter, therefore your knowledge and enthusiasm will shine through. And it won’t cost you as much time because you won’t need to go on a six week fishing trip as research.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s important to choose competitions carefully. They’re all worthwhile for someone, but they’re not all worth the work for you personally. Consider what you stand to gain, how much time it’s going to take you, and how else you could use that time. If you have another play in mind that you’re more invested in, I’d say the time is better spent on that than on a competition you’re entering purely for a chance of exposure.

At this point I guess it’s time for another dusty anecdote from the crumbling vault of my memory. Back in the distant annals of time when I wrote my first play I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I muddled through this huge mess of a narrative with a dangerous combination of boundless enthusiasm and blind faith, ending up with what I hoped was a decent first effort.

I had a huge sense of achievement when I finished the play, but this was followed by the crushing realisation that I had no clue what to do with it. I was also about to travel to Japan for two months and didn’t have the time to figure it out.

Entirely by coincidence a friend emailed me about Paines Plough’s Future Perfect scheme, so I sent in my play the day before leaving the country.

By the time I got back I’d completely forgotten about the competition, it was such a long shot I hadn’t really given it a second thought after submitting. It was my first play, I had no idea whether it was any good, what were the chances of this prestigious company wanting to work with me for a year on the strength of that?

So I was pretty surprised when Paines Plough called me in for an interview and gave me a place on their year-long scheme for young writers. I felt like I’d won the lottery.

No matter how unlikely it may seem, there’s always a chance you’ll win. So, despite everything I said above, if you really feel the prize is worth it sometimes you just need to swallow the costs and go for it.

The other thing about Future Perfect is that there were no restrictions on subject matter, genre or length. With these kinds of competitions there are less costs; you can submit a play you wrote years ago without writing a word beyond the inevitable application form. Competitions like that, which don’t require you to write a brand new play about fishing are generally worth a punt if you have a script lying around.

As you can see on London Playwrights Blog, there are a huge number of competitions out there. You’d be completely overwhelmed trying to enter even half of them. You wouldn’t have any time left to pursue your own work and the endless barrage of application forms would eventually drive you to insanity.

Competitions can give your career a massive boost. And they are valuable practice for that coveted future situation when someone commissions you to write about something specific for actual money.  It is useful for a writer to be able to respond to a brief, because very few writers attain the luxurious privilege of being able to write about whatever they want all the time. And you never know, years later you might be approached by a famous actor who loved your ode to Wahlberg and wants you to write their biography.

I hope I haven’t come across as being defeatist; of course there’s always a chance you’ll win, and you should absolutely chase that if the prize seems worth it. Just keep an eye out for the competitions that are worth the effort even if you don’t win.

They’re the ones you should always enter.

Have a question or problem you’d like to send in?  Email advice@londonplaywrightsblog.com and keep your eyes peeled to see if the answer turns up on our site!

(DISCLAIMER: If you send us a question, you’re giving us permission to publish it!  Be sure to indicate what name you’d like us to use as a sign-off when we publish your column, and a just a heads up that we reserve the right to edit submissions for length if needed.)

TheatreCentre seeking writers for PSHE teaching pilot (paid)

Theatre Centre is piloting a new resource for PSHE teaching that uses audio dramas and an accompanying workshop to facilitate debate and learning on complex, sensitive issues concerning young people.

They are currently seeking expressions of interest around four key themes: consent and sexual relationships, transition, mental health and online safety/responsibility.

How to Apply

Please download and read the attached brief. You will then need to send:

  • a short paragraph explaining your reasons for applying.
  • your writing CV
  • a 300 word scenario treatment
  • a 10 page sample of your scriptwriting

They are looking for writers with at least one professional production on stage or radio.

They are offering all-inclusive fees of £2800 for each Drama Debate commissioned.

Please send the application materials to admin@theatre-centre.co.uk by noon on Monday 7th March.

Interviews will take place in London on Wednesday 23rd March. If you are based outside London, Skype interviews can be arranged.

Deadline: 7 March 2016 at noon.

Source: direct contact