The Women’s Prize for Playwriting

Paines Plough, Ellie Keel Productions and 45North launched The Women’s Prize for Playwriting in 2020 to support female, UK and Ireland-based writers. The winning playwright receives £12,000 in respect of an exclusive option for Ellie Keel Productions and Paines Plough to co-produce the winning play.

The mission of The Women’s Prize for Playwriting is to address the inequality in the number of plays written by women and men on major stages in the UK. In 2018, only 26% of new plays on main stages in Britain were by women. This prize is designed to level the playing field and to honour and celebrate the work of playwrights who identify as female.

They want to celebrate and support women playwrights and discover new work from writers at all levels of experience. They are interested in plays that rejoice in the depth and range of your imagination, that feast on dramatic possibility and are ambitious on all scales and subjects. They’ve designed the criteria of the Prize to allow you to write exactly the play you want, unhampered by restrictions or limitations.

Whoever you are and however much or little you have written in the past, the team at The Women’s Prize for Playwriting wants to read your work.


  • The Women’s Prize for Playwriting is open to all writers who identify as female.
  • You must be resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland to enter the Prize.
  • You must be sixteen years of age or older to enter the Prize. There is no upper age limit.
  • Scripts should be an hour or more in playing time. This usually equates to about 60 pages, but if your play takes a different form then this might be much shorter. There is no upper limit on length.
  • Scripts may be written for any cast size.
  • Scripts written by more than one author are eligible.
  • Musicals and pantomimes are not eligible, but there is otherwise no restriction on genre. Plays which contain some music or songs as part of the script are eligible.
  • Your play must be unproduced and unperformed. ‘Unproduced’ is defined as having both (a) had no more than 6 performances for which people could buy tickets and (b) not having received a professional review.
  • You must own all copyright relating to your script.
  • Scripts which have been submitted for other competitions are eligible. However, scripts which have won other competitions are not eligible. Scripts which have reached the shortlist in other competitions are eligible.
  • Please identify your name in the submission email, along with a contact email and phone number, and attach your script and supporting letter as two separate documents.
  • You may only submit one script.
  • Please attach a covering letter as the final page of your script.
  • Scripts and supporting letters must not be submitted anonymously, and should include a full name contact, on the front page of each document.

The writer of the script which is awarded the First Prize by the judging panel will receive £12,000 on or around the day of the awards ceremony in January 2022. The prize money comprises £12,000 as a fee in respect of an exclusive option for Paines Plough and EKP to co-produce the winning script. Pursuant to the option, a decision will be taken whether to produce the script within 12 months of the awards ceremony. In the absence of a decision being taken to produce the play within the 12 months, all professional rights will revert to the writer. If the winning play is produced by Paines Plough and EKP then royalties and other arrangements will be negotiated separately. Two further prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the judges.

The winners of the first, second and third prizes will be published by Samuel French and Samuel French will license the amateur performing rights for these plays.


12 July 2021 at 5pm.

Your play will be read by an expert team of readers working across the theatre industry. There will be 8-9 rounds of reading, with each script being read by different readers within and across each round. The supporting letter you submit will be read each time ahead of the readers reaching your script to understand you and your process as best they can.

They aim to announce a longlist on the 8th November 2021, followed by a shortlist on 19th November 2020. These scripts will be read and discussed by the judging panel.


Published on:
7 Apr 2021
Opportunity deadline:
12 Jul 2021


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