“It takes true originality, tenacity and talent to make it as a successful playwright in the competitive world of commercial theatre. In The Play’s the Thing, a major four-part series, Channel 4 has launched a search for a new British playwright – a new voice to enliven and envigorate the West End stage.
The series has attracted over 2000 submissions from previously un-produced writers. Across four episodes, The Play’s the Thing follows the progress of these theatre wannabes from restaurateurs to supermarket workers, scientists to call centre operatives, from the earliest stages of selection through the honing of their words into a play fit for production by an established director and hand-picked cast.
It’s the job of three top theatre professionals – West End producer Sonia Friedman (who produces the West End production of the winning play in June), Literary Agent Mel Kenyon and Actor Neil Pearson – to whittle down submissions to a shortlist of three before the winner is selected. Then a brand-new name will emerge into the spotlight to experience all the drama of first-night nerves and public scrutiny as the curtain goes up on their West End debut.
As an extension of the television series, The Play’s the Thing is also an online repository and marketplace for radio drama, written by aspiring and emerging writers with script training and development delivered through Ideas Factory, Channel 4’s Talent initiative to support 16-34 year olds pursue a career in the creative industries.”
The first episode of The Play’s The Thing was tonight. At first it was quite disconcerting and disappointing as the tone, background music and voice-over seemed to imply that a bunch of sad loser lunatics had applied. And perhaps they had. But the judges got it down to a shortlist of reasonably normal people, and the episode started to pick up. The submission process looked rather daunting with the applicants having to film themselves performing a snippet of their play, and then pitching it to the panel by using a chalkboard. Good on them. Best of luck. Come on Steve the Supermarket Guy! That’s who I’m rooting for.
Surely it’s only a matter of time before they do Screenwriter Idol or a screenwriting version of Dragons' Den? Surely.