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The 25th International Radio Playwriting Competition 2016

Competition update

For details on this year's competition, please go to the 26th International Playwriting Competition website. This page is no longer being updated.

Listen to last year's winners again

On Saturday 14 October 2017, you can hear a repeat of one of our winning plays from last year's competition on BBC World Service.

Artwork by Jacob Philips

The Day Dad Stole A Bus – Péricles Silveira

Nayara's Dad wants her to see her Grandmother’s house in Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, years after a dam disaster destroyed the village. But why has he stolen a bus to take her there? And why do things keep disappearing?

Tune in on Saturday 14 October to find out!

Starring Stephen Tompkinson, Wunmi Mosaku and Matthew Marsh, with original music by Raiomond Mirza

A BBC World Service co-production with The Open University

Winners arrive in London

In October we at last had the great joy of welcoming our three winning writers of the 25th International Radio Playwriting Competition to London. Joanne Gutknecht (Canada) and Pericles Silveira (Brazil) were exceptionally busy: attending a workshop with two of our leading radio writers, Lin Coghlan and Sebastian Baczkiewicz, receiving their awards at a prize giving ceremony at the Commonwealth Foundation, taking a trip to see one of the West End's most popular productions and still managing to find time to record both their winning plays in our Drama studio in Broadcasting House! Jude Erupu (Uganda) who won this year's Georgi Markov Prize for the most promising script was also here for two weeks at the BBC. It was an absolute pleasure to have them with us and a wonderful way to round off what has been a fantastic and record-breaking competition, with over 1,000 entries from 112 different countries. Many thanks to our partners at the British Council, Commonwealth Writers and the Open University who've supported the competition.

The Day Dad Stole A Bus

by Péricles Silveira (English as a Second Language)

Nayara’s father wants her to see her grandmother’s house after the dam disaster in Bento Rodrigues. But why has he stolen a bus to take her there – and why do things keep disappearing?

About me: When I was little, I used to walk around the house holding a tape recorder and a mic in which I narrated stories about inanimate objects: the adventures of the alarm clock that had to cross my parents’ bed to get to the window, or the phone that had to walk beneath the chairs in the living room. I built labyrinths with rows of string that went around all the door knobs in the house: a complex network of traps that the robots I’d built with paperclips and erasers could cross. At that moment my parents usually appeared: "Oh my God what's going on here?!"

But I was quite insistent.

I continued to tell stories. That’s what I still do today. This is my first play for radio.

Playing with Fire

by Joanne Gutknecht (English as a First Language)

In a remote house in rural Canada, passions rage like the encroaching wildfire in the marriage of Judy and Arnold. Scandal and infidelity threaten to tear them apart, and their disturbed son Daniel can’t stop playing with his dolls. How will they escape the imminent flame?

About me: Joanne was raised in a small rural community in Manitoba, Canada. Joanne developed an early interest in writing short stories and poetry. She excelled at writing in school, but preferred to follow other interests professionally. However the lure of creative writing has always remained strong. Joanne is involved in various charities and is passionate about human rights issues. She currently works as a Contracts Officer and travels in the Canadian Arctic, supporting Inuit businesses. She resides in Winnipeg, Canada. This is her first play.

Darkness at Dawn

by Jude Erupu (Georgi Markov Prize)

Having lost his father to the Lord Resistant Army after a brutal attack on his village, Chadwong must make a decision. Should he join the Arrow boys like his best friend Apukun, and fight to avenge his father? How will he care for his pregnant mother and siblings? Unable to reach the food aid his family so desperately needs, circumstances conspire to lead him on a desperate path in order to survive in this lawless, unjust world.

My name is Erupu Jude. I was born in Kaberamaido district in the North-Eastern Uganda Region - the third born of my mother and the thirteenth born of my father. I started writing in Senior one, but I gave it up since there was no one to read my works or even encourage me. I used to read inspirational books and novels like Gulliver’s Travels, Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, Things Fall Apart, Children et cetera. I loved how strong-willed characters like Okonkwo or Tom Sawyer jumped from their fictional stasis to reality. And then I had an experience of my own in 2002. I was a student in Lira Integrated when the woes of Lords Resistant Army rebels began. I participated in eluding capture several times by the rebels in Lira. This led to my transfer to Teso College Aloet in 2003 where I again evaded abduction by the LRA rebels. I witnessed starvation in Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) Camps, rapes, shame, theft, poisonings and murders as people died before their time – at least many never reached their prime. It is here that I saw the grim face of the world smile with mockery and heartlessness – then a fire stirred inside, not of revenge, but hope – hope to turn the sad face of my world from sadness to joyfulness. If I could not lift a machete or pull a trigger, then I could at least shoot ink on paper and tell my tale and of those who are not here with me today. Now I know their voices will be heard. This is a start – a story in their honour. Thanks to BBC World Service and British Council that in 2016 some of these voices have been heard.

Regional Prize Winners

Title Author Region
The Maid Who Maid It Mariam Samah Asia
Tomorrow's Child Janet Morrison Caribbean
Hostages Krasimira Djissova Europe
The Confessions Thomas B. Hukahu The Pacific
Doorbell Muserref Ozturk Cetindogan Middle East

Highly Commended Plays

English as a 1st Language

The Cozener, Ronke Gbede, (Nigeria)

Too Hot To Handle, Jonathan Munthali (Malawi)

Little Victories, Thomas Jefferson Green (USA)

Sanctuary, John Yunker (USA)

If Part 1, Victoria Goring (USA)

No Fowl, David Evan Thomas (USA)

Sashko, Maria Reva (USA)

Imbazza, Tony Balis (USA)

Out of Sight, Gena Ellis (USA)

Let it Come Down, Eve Lederman (USA)

Falling Into Shadow, Liana Chapman (Barbados)

Mayday, Austin Kenny (Ireland)

A Gift, Young-Mi Bang (South Korea)

English as a 2nd Language

Gemut, Melody Grome (Sweden)

Breaking the Kingdom Walls, Eresina Hwede (Zimbabwe)

The Wound Has Not Healed, Amuda Iddi Muhammed (Ghana)

The Dream, The Reality, Esme James (Sierra Leone)

Mrs Uwimana, Pease Melissa Kasonko (Uganda)

Kundai, The Boy Who Knew it All, Tafadzwa T J Njovana (South Africa)

The Doctor Who Loved Women, Jolade Aderonke Adebayo (Tanzania)

Commended Plays

English as a 1st Language

Singapore Got Cardenio, Geraldine Song (Singapore)

Dreamboat, Kirsten Miller (South Africa)

Coastland of Hope, Divine Mbutoh (Cameroon)

An Ancient Fairy Tale of Istar and her Brother Asar, Thomas D. Praino (USA)

The Betwixt and the Between, Gerald Thompson (USA)

Daughter of a Brave Country, Kim Velk (USA)

Lawrenceville, Derek T. Bell (USA)

Drummer 41, Ish Klein (USA)

Swine Song, Ron Harris (USA)

Apostles, Robert Fothergill (Canada)

The Patron Saints, Ken Jarowowski (USA)

Shoujodan: The Song Of The Scouts, Caitlin Alicia Cieri (USA)

If That Looking Glass Gets Broke, Jill Talbot (Canada)

Phoney, Brian O’Beirne (USA)

Midnight or Clear Blue Sky, Frederick Johnson (Barbados)

Foreign Temple, Sam Patrick (Barbados)

EDGE, S. L. Sheppard (Bahamas)

Goodbye Mr Black, Darion O. Spence (Bahamas)

Gone to Ground, Jon Barton (Spain)

Digging, Jennifer Harvey (The Netherlands)

L’Autobus, Jane Downs (France)

Gene Silencing, Neil hegarty (Ireland)

The Blue, Neil Flynn (Ireland)

Maafa, Oona Finlayson (Australia)

Asylum, John Hughes (Australia)

Soha and Bilal Go Missing, Joanna Haddad (Lebanon)

English as a 2nd Language

Michaela: The Angel of Death, Michaela Kwon (South Korea)

So Why Did She Shoot Him?, Lekha Limbu (Singapore)

The Collection, Ilari and Tuomas Kaila (Hong Kong)

The Fiction Writer, Yasuko Mukaino (Japan)

The Goddess of Twiwah, Macdell Joshua Kofi Sackey (Ghana)

The Surrogate, Achiro Patricia Olwoch (Uganda)

The Journey, Noel Kapakasa (Malawi)

Jeff is Back, Asatu Jalloh Liberia based in (Ghana)

Mabatho, Joshua Innocent Longwe (South Africa)

The Land Along the River, Alice Wa Gichuru (Kenya)

A Few Days to Live, Caroline Wanjiru Muchiri (Kenya)

A Beautiful Way to Die, Ogieriakhi Chika Maureen (Nigeria)

The Town in No Man’s Land, Dilman Dila (Uganda)

You Will Not Understand These Things, Pamela Otali (Uganda)

The Pigeon Tree, Gino Diiorio (USA)

No Man No Cry, Tamara Bosack Dordevic (Serbia)

Yellow, Daniel & Tunde Molnar (Hungary)

A Short Introductory Course in Recycling, Pedja Kazazovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Idle Capacity, Sophia Henbeck (Germany)

The Revenge of the Smarting Phone, Henrietta Hartl (Germany)

The Fear and the Terror, Ferran Ecegaray (Spain)

Weathering Hope, Vincent Vella (Malta)

The Outcast, Stanley Makuwe (New Zealand)

Rules of Life, Abdulaziz Al-hubaishi (Yemen)

32, Najwa Yassir (UAE)

L’Impasse d’Olso, Arin Kusaksizoglu & Nihan Asici (Turkey)

Congratulations to all those concerned and our thanks to everyone who entered the Competition.

Our Partners

The International Radio Playwriting Competition is run by the BBC World Service and the British Council and co-produced by The Open University.

We are delighted to announce our judging panel for this year's competition.

(clockwise from top left) Ria Parry, Ray Fearon, Sabrina Mahfouz, Steve Titherington, Marion Nancarrow, Neil Webb

Ria Parry

Ria Parry is Co-Director of The North Wall in Oxford. She is a director and producer and has created work for venues including The Bush Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Salisbury Playhouse, Regents Park Open Air Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre. She was the recipient of the Leverhulme Award for Emerging Directors at the National Theatre becoming Resident Director at the NT Studio in 2009.

Ray Fearon

After graduating from drama school, Ray garnered a reputation as a stage actor with the RSC and in the West End, becoming the first Black actor to play “Othello” on an RSC stage in over 40 years and later becoming an RSC Associate Artist.
His other notable theatre credits include playing Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar (RSC), Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (RSC) directed by Michael Attenborough, the title role in ‘Pericles’ (RSC), ‘Macbeth’ at Manchester Festival, “The Soldier’s Fortune” at the Young Vic, and “Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads” at the National Theatre.

Ray’s film credits include the blockbuster Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet and starring in Oskar Roehlar’s Lulu and Jimmi. His extensive television credits include BBC One’s Silk, Waking the Dead and Death In Paradise and ITV1’s Prime Suspect.

Sabrina Mahfouz

Sabrina Mahfouz’s numerous plays have won multiple international awards and she is currently writing a biopic of Wiley, the ‘godfather of grime’, for Pulse Films, as well as operas, digital dramas and a novel. With a Little Bit of Luck, performed at the Roundhouse main space, was the first radio drama on BBC Radio 1xtra. Sabrina also writes for children and her play Zeraffa Giraffa won a 2018 Off West End Award. Her poetry collection, How You Might Know Me, was a 2017 Guardian Best Summer Reads. Sabrina is the editor of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, a 2017 Guardian Book of the Year and is an essay contributor to The Good Immigrant, exploring her mixed racial heritage through British fashion.

Steve Titherington

Steve Titherington is Senior Commissioning Editor at the BBC World Service leading editorial projects and creating new programme formats, podcasts and partnerships. New shows include The Assassination; Trending, the Food Chain and The Inquiry – and BBC MINUTE. He has also been Executive Editor of Global News, Deputy Head of WS News Programmes and Head of the World Service Newsroom, where he led coverage of 9-ll and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has led teams covering major news events in the USA, Russia and China and has reported from around the world from Haiti to Hong Kong.

Neil Webb

Neil has been Director of the Theatre and Dance team at the British Council since 2012 and is responsible for leading and delivering a performing arts programme across the British Council's global network. He leads on their partnership with Unlimited, the UK’s commissioning programme for disability arts. He is on the programming panel for the Made in Scotland showcase, chairs the panel for the biennial Edinburgh Showcase and sits on the Advisory Committee for the IETM International network for contemporary performing arts. He was previously Regional Arts Director for East Asia, trained in ballet and contemporary dance and is a 2006/7 Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme.

Marion Nancarrow


Marion Nancarrow has directed more than 250 dramas for the BBC, many of them for the BBC World Drama strand, which she ran for 11 years, working with writers and performers across the world. With the British Council, she has run drama workshops in Ghana, South Africa, Malawi and the Middle East and the first 2nd language Radio Writing Residency. Awards include Sony Gold and Silver, CRE Race in the Media and a New York Festival Medal. She is immensely proud to be involved with the International Playwriting Competition.

Shortlisted Plays Announced!

We are delighted to announce the shortlist of plays to be considered for the 25th International Playwriting Competition, which this year received over 1,000 scripts from 112 countries.

English as a first language English as a second language
Tomorrow’s Child, Janet Morrison, (Jamaica) Goodbye Kofi, Bode Asiyanbi, (Nigeria)
Easter Island, Anton Krueger, (South Africa) The Day Dad Stole a Bus, Pericles Silveira, (Brazil)
Playing With Fire, Joanne Gutknecht, (Canada) Only Some of Us, Elizabeth Gail, (South Africa)
Listening, Leland Frankel, (USA) The Waterloo, Ifeoluwa Watson, (Nigeria)
The Virgin Missile Crisis, Hoyt Hilsman, (USA) The Confessions, Thomas Hukahu, (Papua New Guinea)
If You Come This Way Again, Lindsay Nightingale, (Australia) The Maid Who Made It, Mariam Samah, (India)
N/A Darkness at Dawn, Erupu Jude, (Uganda)
N/A Tell them where I am, Ivy Rose Universe Baldoza, (Philippines)

Many thanks to everyone who entered the competition. We had a record number of entries in this, our 25th Competition. The judges praised the ambition, originality and creative flair of so many of the submissions. The three winners will fly to London in October for the prize-giving ceremony and the recording of the two winning plays.

About the competition - the winners and the panel

The Prize Giving Evening 2014

Our winners and judges tell us about the plays and why the competition is special to them

Meet the winners from the last two years' competitions and hear more about their winning entries.