Competition open to all with an Orkney connection

Write a 5-25 minute play: any style, theme, or setting - just use one of the selected Stromness Debating Society topics as the title or a line of the dialogue! List of debates here

3 x £300 prizes. No entry fee.

Selected writers will have their play staged in a rehearsed reading by Stromness Drama Club.

Under-18s and over-18s judged separately; young people's ages taken into account.

Deadline for entries: 31 May 2024


Free playwriting workshops

Sunday 24 March, 11am - 1pm - Stromness Library (young people)

Sunday 24 March, 2pm - 4.30pm - Stromness Library

Tuesday 26 March, 7pm - 9.30pm - St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall

To book your place email [email protected]


Showcase event

1 November, Stromness Town Hall

Opportunities for directing and acting too!


How to enter

Click on the yellow button to access a short entry form:

You'll be asked to complete your contact details then upload your script as a Word or PDF file.

The script should not have your name or any other information that identifies you on it.

Entries will be accepted until midnight on 31 May.

If you have any problems using the online form email [email protected].

Script guidance

Length: The script should have a running time of between 5 and 25 minutes. This could be anything between approximately 700 and 5,000 words. Don’t worry if your script is a little over or under this word count.

Stromness Debating Society theme: The play should contain, either as its title or as a line spoken by one of the characters, the title of a Stromness Debating Society debate, as listed here. You don’t have to use the exact wording of the debate title as long as it’s recognisably the same theme. Your play does not need to have this as its overall theme and it should be a play, not a debate!

Subject matter: There are no other restrictions on genre, style or subject matter. Plays don't need to be about or set in Orkney.

Cast: No more than 8 actors and no less than 2 (no monologues - we want to explore theatrical dialogue).

Technical specifications: Plays selected will be presented as staged readings. This means there are no technical restrictions, but your script will work best if it either relies little on technical effects or if these are clearly explained in stage directions so the audience can imagine them.

Language: The play must be written in the English language, which includes any of its dialects, such as Orcadian.

Layout: Scripts must be typewritten and sent as electronic files using the entry form. Any script layout is fine as long as it's clear which character is speaking and what is a stage direction rather than character speech.

Play eligibility: Plays must be the work of the person/s submitting, and be original, unpublished and professionally unperformed (this means the play has not been performed by a professional company paid at Equity rates). Scripts must not be under option by any theatre or production company.

Copyright: By submitting a script to this competition, the playwright (and his or her co-authors if relevant) confirms that it is exclusively their own work. The play must not contain any material that is owned or has been created by another person/s. Writers of plays chosen for performance keep the copyright to their plays.

Writer eligibility

Orkney connection: The competition is open to anyone resident in Orkney or with a close connection to Orkney (such as birth, family, previous residency or regular visits/work here).

Age: There is no age limit. Children and young people entering the competition may submit scripts themselves, with an adult’s permission if they’re under 16, or scripts may be submitted on their behalf by a parent or guardian.

Writing experience: There is no minimum or maximum level of experience required to enter.

Multiple entries: You may submit more than one play using the same entry form if you wish.

Co-authors: We’re happy to accept co-authored work. The entry form is submitted by one person and gives the option for them to name their co-writer/s.

Other competitions: You may submit your script to other competitions, theatres or third parties during this period. If it is successful elsewhere, please let us know immediately.

Withdrawing: If you wish to withdraw your script at any point, please email [email protected].

Judging and prizes

The names of the judges will be announced in April.

Plays will be judged on their plot/narrative structure, depiction of characters and their voices, creativity and originality and whether the story they tell is best suited to being a short play.

All plays will be judged anonymously, and the judges will not know who has entered. Entries from under 18s and over 18s will be judged separately. The age of entrants under 18 will be taken into consideration.

The decisions of the judges are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Up to three winners of the competition will receive £300 (one BACS or cheque payment within one month of the winner being announced).

If a co-authored work wins a prize, prize money will be divided equally between the authors.

Up to three winners of the competition will have their play performed by Stromness Drama Club at a rehearsed reading at Stromness Town Hall on the evening of 1 November 2024.

A selected number of other entrants will also have their play performed by Stromness Drama Club at a rehearsed reading at Stromness Town Hall on the evening of 1 November 2024.

The prizes are as stated and no alternatives can be offered.

Writers of winning scripts and scripts chosen for performance will be notified by email. The winners will be announced on June 29th 2024.

Feedback on scripts can be provided on request and will be given within one month of the close of the competition. Feedback is given in good faith and does not constitute correspondence.

Writers of winning scripts may be required to participate in promotional activities, for example providing quotes and photographs for media use.

The organisers reserve the right to withhold the prizes, amend the rules or cancel the competition in whole or part if they consider it necessary or if the standard of entries justifies this.

Any lobbying of the judges or anyone else involved with the administration of the competition will lead to automatic disqualification from the competition.

These entry instructions form the terms and conditions of the competition. By entering, you agree to these terms and conditions.

FAQs on writing a short play

Click here to go to Rachael McGill's website to have all your questions answered!

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