BBC World Service and the British Council, with co-producer The Open University and in partnership with Commonwealth Writers, have announced the winners of the 25th International Radio Playwriting Competition.
Joanne Gutknecht from Canada won the English as a First Language category for her script Playing With Fire, while Pericles Silveira from Brazil triumphed in the English as a Second Language category with his play The Day Dad Stole a Bus.
As part of their prize of a visit to London to attend the Awards ceremony, both Joanne and Pericles will experience their winning radio scripts being recorded at the BBC ahead of their broadcast on the BBC World Service in 2017.
Erupu Jude from Uganda was awarded the Georgi Markov prize for his play Darkness at Dawn. The unique prize - which honours the script with the most outstanding potential from the competition's shortlist - was set up in memory of BBC World Service journalist Georgi Markov, who championed freedom of creative expression. Erupu will also travel to the UK and spend two weeks at the BBC where he will be mentored by BBC Radio Drama and BBC World Service.
The global competition offered a unique opportunity for playwrights to use the medium of radio drama to reach an international audience. This year over 1,000 entries were received from a record 112 countries, with an entry from Papua New Guinea making the shortlist for the very first time. The full shortlist can be found on the BBC website. The plays include thought-provoking stories with subjects ranging from slavery, war and corruption to a comedy about a maid in India and a hold-up on a train in South Africa.
This is the second successive time the OU has been involved in the biennial competition. Novelist, short story writer and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at The Open University Dr Derek Neale, was the academic consultant who acted as an adviser. Dr Neale explains the OU’s continued support of the competition and why he thinks creative writing is so popular.
“We [the OU] are incredibly successful in terms of our creative writing courses. For example our MOOC Start Writing Fiction has attracted more than 200,000 in just two years. We’re currently developing an MA in Creative Writing, which is due to launch in October this year and will include writing for radio as well as writing fiction, poetry, script for stage and screen and creative nonfiction.”
“Through our partnership with the BBC we were able to use a lot of the material from the competition in 2014 for the new MA in Creative Writing. Including the two winning plays and incredibly insightful advice from BBC drama producer Marion Nancarrow who directed and recorded actors performing excerpts from the shortlisted plays with a supporting narratives to help students understand why certain elements worked and others didn’t.”
“Our courses teach students much more than simply improving writing skills. Creative writing is empowering for students. It teaches them how to read in a more critical way and also much more about themselves personally. By teaching students how to get stories from their own life experience causes them to stop and reflect, which can be an incredibly rewarding process.”