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Scotland Short Play Award 2017


Cumbernauld Theatre is pleased to welcome submissions for the Scotland Short Play Award 2017 – a developmental playwriting award for both first-time and experienced writers (especially those who may have written before but perhaps in different literary forms) to engage with writing for contemporary Scottish Theatre and Performance.

The Scotland Short Play Award is part of Cumbernauld Theatre’s continuing commitment to the continuing development of professional artists working in drama, theatre and performance alongside our work with our Company-in-Residence and Associate Artist projects.


About The Award

Cumbernauld Theatre welcomes submissions of short plays from writers at all stages of their careers – whether you are a first time writer or whether you have had work produced internationally.  We would also encourage writers to submit who may currently be working in other literary genres and most particularly those from backgrounds and communities whose voices are not usually heard onstage in Scotland.


A Note on Short Plays and the Short-Format

Short stories, short-length radio plays and short-film projects have all had significant success in supporting the development of new and original writing while also encouraging diverse and new perspectives.

The short-format (whether of story, radio, or digital film) has provided a range of writers and artists the opportunity to develop their craft and artistic ability within the structure of a tightly focused fifteen minutes.

The Scotland Short Play Award is designed to encourage contemporary writing for Theatre/Performance within that same artistically challenging and exciting constraint of just 15 minutes of stage time.

The Company actively wants to encourage risk and innovation in play writing and performance writing forms, storytelling, theatre structure and characterisation.

At its simplest and most powerful all performance explores our experience as human beings, and there is a myriad of means by which this can be communicated on stage.  The act of communicating is the principle act at the heart of performance, and within this writing the spoken word has the primary role (though this statement continues to be rightly contested!)

Cumbernauld Theatre, in all its work, actively encourages innovation and experimentation in the art of theatre and in the (re)telling of experience.

It doesn’t matter if your submission conforms to the standard playwriting rules of the well-made play, breaks the rules or doesn’t know what the rules are and frankly couldn’t give a damn about them…. It is wonder and fury, curiosity and confusion that brings communicative purpose to the writer and that, in turn, helps mark out writing with real communicative power to an audience.

And that power is found in a myriad of places, ideas, identities, stories and voices and finds its output through a myriad of means of creative expression.


Submissions Process

Eligible writers are invited to submit a short play/performance text lasting between 10 and 15 minutes.

A typical rule-of-thumb is that a play-script runs at 1m 30s per page…  A 10 minute performance is therefore likely to be approximately 7 script pages long and likewise a 15 minute play would be approximately 10 pages long.

So, as a rule of thumb, your play-script should be between 7 and 10 pages in length (not including any title page or information pages etc.).

BUT this number of pages is provided as a guide only.  Your own reading-aloud of the text will give you a more accurate sense of its likely duration as different kinds of density of text, or even simply things like differing page layouts, can mean the number of pages rule-of-thumb is significantly different.

The Company will not be overly dogmatic in its use of the 15 minute rule.   The Award is seeking short play scripts but those just over the page limit will not be excluded.  The 15 minute rule is a creative constraint rather than a straight-jacket and the Deciding Panel will be flexible in the implementation of the 15 minute rule to a degree of a couple of minutes either way.

Student writers who are in their final year of an undergraduate course or who are currently engaged in Post-Graduate study (at any level) may also submit.   Writers should be aged 18+ and ordinarily resident in Scotland.  If you are currently working outside of Scotland on a temporary basis then you are still eligible to apply.  Further information on other eligibility conditions may be found below in The Small Print.


How Will We Decide On The Submissions

Following the submission of your short-play (see deadlines below), all the Scotland Short Play Award Panel Members will receive a copy of your play.  The Panel, as individuals, will read the play-scripts and recommend those for further consideration.

The Individual Panel members’ recommendations will then be discussed at a Panel Meeting and through discussion and debate a short-list for a second-stage Reading Night will be agreed.  The Reading Night will gather together Directors, Writers and Actors to read and discuss the plays together.

This short-list has no defined number and will be based on the needs of the plays and the number of submissions received but in the previous Short Play Award in 2015, 9 plays were workshopped/read.

This private Reading Night is a critical stage in the Awards process as it enables the Writer to engage with the creative process of actors/directors interpreting their work at an early stage.

Subsequently the Panel will reconvene to decide on the Scotland Short Play Award.  There are likely to be up to 3 Joint Award Winners, although this is subject to the number of submissions and the appropriate stage of development of the scripts, with the Award recipients each receiving a pro-rata fee based on the current FST/SSP Playwrights Commission Rate.

Alongside the appointment of the Award, the Playwright will also receive support and mentoring through the project from an established/experienced Playwriting Mentor.

The selected productions will then be presented at Cumbernauld Theatre as part of our Micro Theatre Season in Summer 2017 alongside a range of Short-Play Commissions currently being developed by Cumbernauld Theatre with Writers in Scotland.


Dates and Deadlines

All Play-Script Submissions by 31st January 2017

Short-listed plays announced by: 31 March 2017

Micro-Theatre Season at Cumbernauld Theatre: May 2017


Please submit your script online only to the following address:


Download the Project Terms and Conditions Here