RSC launches new playwriting initiative 37 Plays

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon has launched a major new playwriting competition.

The initiative is timed to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio, and is a UK-wide search to find the most exciting new playwriting voices of today.

Submissions for plays has now opened, and will run to 31 January 2023, in partnership with the RSC and its network of 12 regional theatre partners – The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, The Grand Theatre Blackpool, Hull Truck Theatre, Hall for Cornwall, Intermission Youth Theatre, The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Northern Stage, Norwich Theatre, Nottingham Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, The New Vic Theatre, Stoke, Silhouette Youth Theatre and York Theatre Royal.

The chosen 37 plays will be announced in April 2023, and the winners will see their plays performed, script in hand, across the UK and online in Autumn 2023.

Anyone can enter – from first-time writers to emerging or professional playwrights, and from children and young people to adults.

Selecting the 37 plays will be a panel of 25 readers, selected by the RSC’s theatre partners to reflect the nation in all of its diversity.

Erica Whyman, Acting Artistic Director of the RSC said in a statement, “‘As we look forward to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio this year, we will celebrate this landmark moment in the company’s history with a remarkable new collection of plays that speak directly to our world today. 37 Plays represents the most ambitious, public writing project in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s history. Working very closely with our resilient partner theatres up and down the country we will set out to encourage everyone to find their voice. Shakespeare offers us such an amazing array of plots and characters and with this 37 Plays I have no doubt we will unearth an equally rich kaleidoscope of stories; comedies, tragedies, untold histories, from the fantastical to the startlingly familiar, we will celebrate new voices for different dramatic platforms whether that’s on our stages, on our streets, in schools, online or in new locations and spaces we haven’t explored yet.”

Pippa Hill, Head of New Work at the Royal Shakespeare Company said, “37 Plays is a project like no other. It’s not only the first time The RSC has invited submissions of unsolicited scripts, but we’re also opening the opportunity to writers of any experience and of any age – from established professionals to first time writers. Last year we created an array of resources to support writers in their process – including our podcast series with Mark Ravenhill, filmed masterclasses with playwrights in front of live audiences, teacher resource packs and workshops in schools. Our ambition is to collect stories from all over the country that reflect our lives and our nation today. We have recruited a brilliant and diverse team of professional readers who will read all submissions and work with us to create the shortlist. These readers, and the final judging panel, will be looking for the ideas at the heart of each play; the original stories and voices that are not necessarily bound by traditional playwriting forms or conventions. Once the new 37 plays have been selected, we will work with our regional theatre partners to hold performances of each play and we will capture them all in a new digital folio for our times.”

37 Plays - submissions
👤 📅4 January 2023

📷 Main photo: Royal Shakespeare Company - rehearsals of King John. Photo by Sam Allard

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