“Remarkable plays” from Brazil and Canada win the 25th International Radio Playwriting Competition

Tags: New Writing

Joanne Gutknecht and Pericles Silveira win the opportunity to travel to London and have their plays produced and broadcast on the BBC World Service

Joanne Gutknecht and Péricles Silveira at Prive Giving Ceremony. photo: BBC

Joanne Gutknecht and Péricles Silveira at the prive giving ceremony hosted at Marlborough House, London. Photograph: BBC

The 25th International Radio Playwriting Competition has announced its winners after receiving more than 1,000 entries from a record 112 countries. The competition is run by the BBC World Service and the British Council, co-produced by the Open University and in partnership with Commonwealth Writers. 

The English as a First Language category was won by Playing With Fire by Joanne Gutknecht from Canada; the English as a Second Language prize went to The Day Dad Stole a Bus by Pericles Silveira from Brazil; and the Georgi Markov Prize for outstanding potential was awarded to Darkness at Dawn by Erupu Jude from Uganda.

“These are remarkable plays exploring very contemporary themes”

Marion Nancarrow, who has been working on the competition for more than twenty years, said: ”The audience is at the heart of everything the BBC does, and that the British Council does, and this is one of the most extraordinary ways for us to connect to our audience and to hear their stories. I describe it as putting our finger on the pulse of the world, which might sound a little bit over the top but I think it really is what we do.”

Gutknecht and Silveira visited the UK in October 2016 to hear their winning radio scripts being recorded at the BBC, ahead of their broadcast on the BBC World Service in 2017. Jude also visited the UK to attend the prize-giving ceremony, and to spend two weeks at the BBC being mentored by BBC Radio Drama and BBC World Service. Last year’s English as a Second Language winner, Virginia Jekanyika, has since moved from Zimbabwe to the UK; a film of her winning play is currently in development.

All the winners with Marion Nancarrow, Executive Producer for Radio. photo: BBC

Executive Producer of BBC Radio Drama Marion Nancarrow with the winners (from left) Jude Erupu, Joanne Gutknecht and Péricles Silveira. Photograph: BBC

The judging panel comprised award-winning playwright Charlotte Jones; Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, Madani Younis; actress Pippa Bennett-Warner; BBC World Service Senior Commissioning Editor, Steve Titherington; Director of Drama and Dance at the British Council, Neil Webb; and Executive Producer of BBC Radio Drama, Marion Nancarrow.

Charlotte Jones said: “I have been writing for 25 years, but to hear these new and original voices with extraordinary stories to tell was incredibly humbling and shows how important this competition is.”

Steve Titherington, BBC World Service Senior Commissioning Editor said: "These are remarkable plays each exploring very contemporary themes and reflect the extraordinary range of ideas and dramatic approaches shown by the many entries we received from around the world.”


Pericles Silveira's The Day Dad Stole a Bus was broadcast on the BBC World Service on 21 January 2017 at 20:06 GMT.

Listen to a preview of Joanne Gutknecht's Playing With Fire which will be broadcast on Saturday 18 February 2017. 


Find out more:


> Meet the winners and find out more about their plays

> Hear the winners three top tips for aspiring writers 

> Encover the winners favourite places to write

> Explore international drama on the BBC World Drama website

> Read an interview with Marion Nancarrow discussing how the competition has changed lives

> Find out what Jude Erupu thought of his first experience of UK Theatre

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