Applications open for Putney Theatre Company playwriting competition

Putney Theatre Company has opened applications for its annual writing festival, which will give amateur playwrights the chance to have their work performed on stage.

Entries for the New Writing Festival close at 5pm on 25 November, after which point a panel chaired by New Writing director Rebecca Marangos will select four plays to be shown at Putney Arts Theatre between 3-7 May.

To ensure anonymity in the application process, scripts must not contain contact details or personal information.

Putney Theatre Company has hosted the New Writing Festival for the last two years, exploring the topic of ‘Revolutions’ in 2019 and ‘Truth or Dare’ in 2020 through a selection of 15-minute pieces.

‘Truth or Dare’ had to be performed online over Zoom because of the pandemic but it is hoped that the next festival will appear in front of a live audience.

Marangos has decided to expand the playwrighting guidelines in anticipation of this by asking for one-act plays lasting 45 minutes, set in any genre or historical period.

While she admits that many applications from previous years often ignored the set topics, her decision to remove thematic guidelines has been implemented largely to give dramatists more scope for creativity.

“I want something that will instigate chats outside the theatre,” said Marangos.

As Covid-19 is still spoken about regularly, Marangos would prefer it if playwrights chose to dissect other topics which are not as prevalent in the public consciousness.

Theatre503 in Battersea run a similar programme for playwrights who are yet to be professionally produced called 503Five, offering successful applicants a £2,000 seed commission.

By comparison New Writing is a charity and therefore cannot pay its writers.

That being said, the lack of financial incentive has not affected Marangos’ pull-power as she revealed that a tsunami of scripts from across the world have already appeared in her inbox.

In fact, the festival has become more popular since it moved to Zoom last year, as the online portal brought in more viewers compared with the 140-capacity Putney Arts Theatre.

BACK IN PERSON: A rambunctious audience in Putney Arts Theatre. Credit: Putney Arts Theatre

While ticket sales are an important facet to any theatrical event, Marangos’ focus remains on unearthing diverse playwrighting talent.

“I want to explore all those people sitting at home going wild with imagination,” she added.

With scripts already piling up on her desk, there will be plenty of imaginative content to sift through as she strives to find the up-and-coming voices of English theatre.

Applications or questions relating to the festival should be emailed to Rebecca Marangos at [email protected].

Featured Image Credit: Putney Arts Theatre

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