Tuesday, February 13, 2007

New competition: The Radio Play's the Thing

Channel 4 Radio and 4Talent are launching the first ever commercial radio nationwide search for new radio playwrights as part of the channel's The Play's The Thing initiative. The Radio Play's the Thing will give four aspiring writers the opportunity to have their words brought to life, with their scripts professionally produced and broadcast on Channel 4 Radio. Alas, having had a play commissioned and broadcast by the BBC, I'm not eligible to enter, but it's worth flagging this opportunity for everyone to see.

Who can take part?

Absolutely anybody over the age of 18 on 12 February 2007 who has not had any previous screenplays, stage, radio and television scripts and/or treatments professionally commissioned, published, staged, optioned and/or produced in any format. If you have had a script or proposal rejected by professional theatre companies or radio stations, you are still eligible to enter in accordance with The Radio Play’s The Thing Terms and Conditions. Your entry should include:

* One paragraph of 200–300 words outlining the subject of your play and its main theme(s). Explain also why you chose the subject.
* A 200–300 word synopsis of your play. Here’s a model synopsis to follow.
* Sample scenes from your play – no more than 15–20 pages – that show clearly your strengths and potential as a drama writer, including your flair for dialogue. Your sample scenes must be professionally formatted for radio production. Here are some model scenes to follow.
* A full Dramatis Personae, ie a list of all the characters in your play. Here’s a model Dramatis Personae to follow.
* Brief character descriptions – about 20 words each – of all of your characters, including their age and gender.

Find out more by visiting The Radio Play's the Thing website.


Laura Anderson said...

Oh, that's great - thanks David!

I enjoyed The Play's The Thing last year when it was on. I'm try for this, I think, but have no aspirations to be on the telebox so hope that's not part of it (though I'm sure it will be).

Pillock said...

I'm going for this! Thanks.

arkangel said...

Rest assured, it definitely doesn't involve having to be on the telebox

SK said...

I'm concerned by this bit of the entry conditions: 'One paragraph of 200–300 words outlining the subject of your play and its main theme(s). Explain also why you chose the subject.'

Why do they want to know why you chose the subject? Surely the answer should always be 'because I thought it would make a good story', and the only thing they shoul dbe judgingon is how good the story is?

This makes me worry that they want to make the writer's identity part of the publicity or process, and that audobiographical or semi-autobiographical works will be much preferred -- and that peoepl who are found out to have made the whole thing up, like that woman with the book set in Canada who David rightly defended, will be at a disadvantage.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it though. But I honestly don't see why they need or want to know why you chose the subject, when all they shoul dbe concerned with is (a) is it a good idea and (b) does the writer have talent?

David Bishop said...

Interesting thoughts, SK, but you might be reading too much into it. I never used to believe my stories needed to have themes, but I did buy into the Robert McKee notion of the Controlling Idea. Took me a while to realise they were pretty much one and the same.

If it's any comfort, when submitting a n idea for a play to BBC Radio Drama, they require to do something similar. You have to include a few sentences why you want to write your parituclar story, why you're passionate about it.

As writers, I think we should all know why we want to tell a story - otherwise, why bother? If we don't care about our story, our characters, why should the audience?

Admittedly, distilling all our reasons and passion into 200-300 words can be tricky, but hey - that's the job.

Leastways, that's what I think. I could well be wrong - often am!

SK said...

I totally agree about the necessity of a story being about something (what stops me proceeding with most of my story ideas is that I can't work out what it's about, it's just an idea for some events whihc happen one after another and are causally connected).

But why I chose a particular theme or subject? Well, that's just because I think it's interesting, and worth saying, and I want to make people think about it. That's always the answer.

I dunno. Maybe 'I chose this subject because I thought it would be interesting to explore how people deal with disappointment in their lives' or 'because I wanted to make people think about how decisions about secrecy and communication in relationships affect the path of our lives' would be an acceptable answer, but I suspect they are looking more for things like 'I chose the subject because I have lived through something similar / this issue has impacted on my family / etc'.

(On the other hand, the former, I like to think, shows a writer with more long-term potential, as they are able to weave stories around diverse themes, while a writer who is fired up about one particular topic will 'burn out' once they have exhuased their personal experience -- but before they burn out they are a publicist's dream because their biography becomes part of the marketing).

I guess I'm affected by the first 'The Play's The Thing' series, which when into what I thought was rather unnecessary detail about the aspiring playwrights' personal situations. One in particular they drew parallels between members of his family and characters in the plat, which I thought was toally out of order.

I guess I'll still enter, if I can think of an idea in time -- may as well, after all. Nothing ventured and all that.