Yorkshire writer Sol B River and Leeds Playhouse search for talented new radio dramatists

Playwright and director Sol B River and Leeds Playhouse are searching for eight talented new writers in West Yorkshire to create radio plays. Chris Burn reports.

Leeds Playhouse is part of the initiative to find new radio play writers in West Yorkshire. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds Playhouse is part of the initiative to find new radio play writers in West Yorkshire. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Getting your foot in the door of any creative industry tends to be no easy task but a new project in West Yorkshire is aiming to give eight people a very special opportunity to have their radio play ideas turned into a reality.

The Dream Reality Radio Drama project has been conceived by Leeds-based writer and director Sol B River, who has worked for some of Britain’s top regional theatres and companies in addition to making acclaimed television documentaries. River was the the youngest and first living black writer to be published by Oberon books, one of the most prolific publishers of drama in the UK back in 1996 and has worked for the likes of BBC Radio 4 Drama and the BBC World Service.

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River is working with Leeds Playhouse on the project, which is being funded by Arts Council England and has been revived this year after previously taking place in late 2014. This year’s iteration will support a group of up to eight first-time radio writers based in West Yorkshire to each create a short radio play.

The scheme is the brainchild of writer and director Sol B River.

A spokesperson for Leeds Playhouse said: “Those selected will take part in a free intensive two-day workshop exploring the craft and skills of writing for radio. The workshop will be led by Dermot Daly who has extensive experience in radio drama as both an actor and director, alongside Sol B River and other leading industry professionals.

“Following the two-day workshop, the writers will receive support and dramaturgy as they develop their short radio plays.

“The plays will be recorded by a team of professional actors and made publicly available on the Dream Reality Radio website.

“They will also be shared in front of a live audience as script-in-hand readings as part of Furnace Festival at Leeds Playhouse in November 2021.

“Writers will be early career artists based in West Yorkshire from under-represented backgrounds. This may be because of barriers arising from ethnicity, socioeconomics, class, age, sexuality, gender, having caring responsibilities, and being deaf and/or disabled. All writers must be aged 18 or over. There is no upper age limit.

“You don’t need any previous professional writing experience to apply. You just need to be interested in writing for radio and have the seed of an idea that could be developed during the project into an original radio play lasting no longer than 15 minutes.

“Each writer will receive a stipend of £100 towards expenses to take part in the project and there is additional budget to support any access requirements.”

Those entering need to provide a sample of their writing – up to three pages or two minutes of audio or video – which can be from a play, poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, spoken word or any other creative writing.

It is intended that the chosen eight will take part in an intensive workshop at Leeds Playhouse on August 27 and 28 if circumstances allow but if that is not possible, it will be held online.

The writers will then be asked to write a first draft of a 15-minute radio play to be recorded and performed by between one and three actors – with the actors able to play more than three characters if required.

Second drafts will be submitted by October 25 and recording will take place in the week of November 8 at Leeds Playhouse as part of the Furnace Festival.

The Furnace Festival is a fortnight-long celebration of the work done by Leeds Playhouse with developing new artists

The deadline for applications to the Dream Reality Radio Drama project is next Tuesday, August 3, at 9am. For more information, visit https://leedsplayhouse.org.uk/furnace or email [email protected]

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