The entry requirements can also be downloaded as a large print PDF here
The 2021 Papatango New Writing Prize is a one-off iteration of this annual playwriting award, remodelled to support even more artists and audiences at this critical time. It will be produced by Papatango in partnership with English Touring Theatre.
With theatres closed and the production of the winner of the 2020 Prize (Old Bridge by Igor Memic) postponed, we cannot run the Prize in 2021 with its traditional commitment to produce, publish and tour a new stage play in the same year. Instead of losing this exceptional opportunity for emerging artists and new work, we have adapted it, aiming to redress the devastating impact of the coronavirus.
The 2021 Prize will therefore select not 1 but 3 winners – each of whom will be awarded £2000 as well as an audio production and digital publication with Nick Hern Books. The audio productions of the three winning scripts will then tour the UK in free listening stations. Venues already confirmed for the tour include Bristol Old Vic, Bush Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Lyric Theatre Belfast, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Southwark Playhouse, Theatre Clwyd and Theatre Royal Plymouth.
This means that audiences can enjoy brilliant new writing – at a time when such programming is under threat – and that the most exciting emerging writers and new stories can connect with theatres nationwide.
We expect that the Prize will return to its usual form in 2022.
Please read all the submission guidelines below before entering the 2021 Prize; any entries in breach of these guidelines will NOT be accepted. Please write to us through the contact form on this website if you have any questions.
For more information about how the Prize is assessed and what we're looking for, please read our answers to these FAQs.
The three winners of the Prize will each receive £2000. Their scripts will be produced as audio plays and tour the UK in free listening stations. The scripts will also be published digitally by Nick Hern Books.
All entrants will be able to opt in to receive feedback if they wish; please indicate your choice by ticking the relevant box when submitting your script. It is not possible to opt out of feedback and then later to request it.
The 2021 Prize will be open for entries from Friday 27 November 2020 until midnight on Sunday 7 February 2021.
Please make sure you submit with some time to spare in case of any problems. No extension will be possible for any reason.
The competition is open to anyone resident in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland only.
There is no age limit.
There is no minimum or maximum level of experience required to enter. All you need is a story.
The script must be an original, unpublished and unproduced piece of work. It cannot have received a production in any form, anywhere in the world, apart from an absolute maximum of three public readings, showcases or performances. Any scripts that have been published or produced for any more than three performances, whether professionally or with an amateur company, will be automatically disqualified.
Translations, children’s plays, adaptations of classic plays or existing works in other media, music theatre, television or film scripts are not eligible.
Scripts submitted to the Prize in previous years are eligible to be resubmitted.
You may submit more than one script if you wish.
As the Prize offers production and publication, we are looking for complete scripts which will work in an audio format.
We recognise that writers can do many different and brilliant things within such a format. We are excited to see what stories and what ideas emerge.
The only parameter we want you to bear in mind is a running time of approximately 25 – 50 minutes, which (very) roughly equates to around 25 – 50 pages. If your script is shorter than this, it may need development; if longer, it may need editing.
We are not absolutely rigid about the page count; we recognise that one person's formatting will differ from another's and that page length to performance time is not an exact science. We also recognise that some scripts which incorporate more audio effects may take up more pages but be swift to perform. Ultimately, we're more interested in whether it feels like a piece that would have a 25 - 50 minute playing time than we are in the sheer number of pages. If in doubt, try reading it aloud with a stopwatch!
We strive to be as flexible as possible in accommodating different formats and different styles in order to empower writers to explore this form however they want; we therefore are choosing not to impose a strict limit on page numbers. Nonetheless, we are looking for pieces that will be 25 - 50 minutes in performance. Therefore, while you may decide to submit a script that is less than 25 or more than 50 pages, if we don't believe it will fit our target performance time then it won't have a chance of winning. Please do bear this mind.
Scripts should be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF formats only.
Entry to the Prize is anonymous. Please ensure that your script, including the file title, contains no mention of your name or email address.
Please list at least one contact telephone number on the front page of the script itself.
Please do not include a synopsis or CV.
All entries should include page numbers on every page.
All entries should be made via the Submissions Form.
The entrant must exclusively own and control all copyright and all other related rights to the submitted script. It must be available for production and unattached to any other organisation or individual.
Entrants grant Papatango and English Touring Theatre the right to produce their script in an audio production which will tour the UK. Entrants also grant Nick Hern Books the right to publish their script in a digital playtext.
The winning scripts will be under exclusive option to Papatango and English Touring Theatre for a period of 12 months after the last date of the tour of the audio productions.
Entrants will receive an automated acknowledgement via email. If you do not receive such an acknowledgement, please check your spam folder. If you cannot find it, please write to ask us to confirm receipt, stating the name of your script and the date you submitted it, via the contact form on this website.
Please only write to us if you have not received the email acknowledgement; we regret that, due to the volume of entries, no other correspondence can be entered into regarding any matter of the Prize process.
All entrants’ email addresses will be added to a private mailing list to receive updates from Papatango on the Prize throughout the process. We will not use this list to send any information other than about the Prize, it will never be shared with any third parties, and upon completion of the Prize the list will be deleted and no further contact will be made.
The Prize is assessed completely anonymously. All readers have an equal role in judging entries throughout the process, which consists of 3 reading rounds culminating in a final shortlist of 10 scripts.
Only the final shortlist will be made public, but all writers who opted to receive feedback will be told where their script came in the process.
All entrants who requested it by ticking the relevant box on the submissions form will receive personal feedback once the reading process is complete and after the winner has been announced. We expect this to take place in late summer 2021.
Acceptance of terms
Entry into the Prize constitutes acceptance of these terms.