The FAQs can also be downloaded as a large print PDF here.
Thank you for your interest in entering the 2023 Papatango New Writing Prize. We hope you find the answers to these frequently asked questions helpful.
Should I read the entry requirements?
Yes! Scripts which don't meet key principles such as anonymity or length will be rejected. Given the huge volume of submissions we can't check entries manually, so if a script breaches a requirement we have no choice but to discard it. Please take 5 minutes to read our guidelines before you submit! Do so HERE.
What does the Prize offer?
It exists to champion playwrights. We’re big believers that the best – indeed, only – way for a writer to forge a career is through being produced. Our Prize was the first and remains the only annual award to guarantee its winner a full production as well as publication, £7000 fee and royalties. It accelerates brilliant new talent.
As the Prize has exploded – now receiving more entries per year than any other competition – many wonderful plays which deserve production inevitably miss out. We therefore expanded the Prize to award four shortlisted writers £500 each plus the option to have their plays performed and filmed as a reading, for an international industry audience. This will promote and nurture even more playwrights, helping them reach stages worldwide.
Feedback is also available to anyone who wants it, to help explain readers’ decisions and offer suggestions for next steps.
What makes a Prize winner?
As always, we'll be captivated by the unexpected - a voice or a story which really stands out but which we can't define until we see it. We honestly don't have any pre-conceptions or parameters about story, setting or style when we read - we just want sparkling dialogue and characters whose reality leaps off the page. That said, we tend to be drawn to narrative-driven scripts rather than abstract or absurdist pieces (though we’ll never say never!).
Think of previous Prize winners and you'll realise how eclectic they are: Trestle by Stewart Pringle is a bittersweet yet funny two-hander about friendship in later life, whereas Coolatully by Fiona Doyle plunges us into a tense village beset by economic and social woes; The Funeral Director by Iman Qureshi tackles religion and sexuality in contemporary Britain, while Foxfinder by Dawn King is an unsettling dystopia in a parallel world. Old Bridge by Igor Memic is inspired by recent history in the Balkans, in contrast to Nkenna Akunna’s Some Of Us Exist In The Future, a story of self-discovery in New York. These and the other brilliant winners are all completely different from each other.
What does this mean? Just that we've no idea what our next winner will be. If you write a story set in a world that matters to you, chances are it will matter to our readers too.
Can co-writers or writing teams enter?
Yes, as long as you're happy to share the Prize equally!
Can I control who directs, performs in or otherwise contributes to the production of my play if I win?
You can't stipulate it but you can ask. As producers, we reserve the right to select the creative team and cast, subject to the writer's approval, but we're always happy to take suggestions. If we did agree that you or someone you know could direct/star in/design etc the play, then it would be because we believed you or they were genuinely the best person to do so. If we don’t think that, then we won’t agree. Our goal is simply to ensure the best artists make your script come alive.
How will entries be assessed?
Entries are read anonymously. We have three reading rounds, which culminate with readers voting in a blind ballot for the shortlist and winner. This ensures that a wide range of experiences, backgrounds and tastes inform our final decision, and that all readers have an equal say (we don't do celebrity judges or invite reviewers to join the panel. We just don't – even though it would be an easy way to generate stars, it wouldn’t be true to our ethos.)
Who is on your reading team?
Our reading team comprises practising theatre-makers - directors, writers, designers, producers, dramaturgs and actors. They all have to pass a rigorous reading assessment to join the team. The team itself fully reflects our country and its diverse communities.
What goes into the feedback?
With such a huge volume of entries, we can't provide in-depth analysis of each play. Instead, our feedback aims to give you a sense of the reader's thoughts on what worked or didn't work in the script and thus what influenced their decision (whatever it is). Of course, their response will inevitably be subjective, and you may not agree with it. We just hope that knowing how a professional script reader responded to your work, and what stood out to them, will prove useful.
Does it make a difference if I don't want feedback?
No. We don't know whether you opted in or out of feedback when we read your play.
Will entering affect my rights?
No. As the writer you retain all copyright and other intellectual property rights in your script at all times. You can also withdraw from the Prize at any point.
If you are offered the Prize or a place on the shortlist, you will be able to review the terms of the production and publication (for the winner) or the filmed reading (for the shortlist) before deciding whether to accept. More information on these terms is available in the entry requirements HERE.
When will I hear back?
We'll keep all entrants informed throughout the process by email - expect general updates in February 2023 (after the deadline, when we know the number of entries), May 2023 (when we know how many scripts are through to the last round, though won't reveal the titles in the interests of anonymity) and July 2023 (when we announce a shortlist and winner).
Individual feedback, for those who requested it, will be sent out by early autumn 2023. Please bear with us as it takes a long time to review then issue all the reports. We are committed to issuing feedback for everyone at the same time. Due to the sheer workload for our tiny team, we will not respond to individual requests for feedback in advance (if we did, everyone would ask!).