How do I enter?

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting will return on January 21st 2019. 

Entries for The 2017 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting are now closed. The Bruntwood Prize is biennial, so does not run in 2018.


All entries for The Bruntwood Prize are made online through this website. The process is really simple and happens in four steps. You will need:

  • A pseudonym, or a name that’s not your own
  • A contact email address
  • An address in the UK or Republic of Ireland or British Overseas Territory or British Forces Post Office
  • A title for your play
  • Your finished play in a single document (PDF, DOC, or DOCX)

You’ll receive a confirmation email once the process is finished to let you know your entry has been successful.

If you still have questions about the reading process, you may find the answer to your query in the Prize Guidelines and FAQ below or contact us on

Reading process

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has supported the development and productions of a significant number of playwrights since its inception in 2005. Open to writers in the UK and Ireland aged 16 and over, so far there have been 28 winning playwrights who have been awarded a total of £256,000.  There have been 24 critically acclaimed productions of winning entries across 38 UK wide venues, as well as a number of productions of plays elsewhere that were identified through the judging process.

Different plays reach different stages in our reading and consideration of the entries, but all of them are subjected to the same criteria and process. We have a large dedicated team of readers to process the entries. These readers are experienced in reading scripts for the stage. They are made up of directors, dramaturgs, playwrights who are previous winners of The Bruntwood Prize, producers, literary agents, other theatre practitioners and artistic staff at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

There are various stages to the reading process. Throughout the process, the script remains anonymous. Unfortunately we can not enter into a dialogue with any writer about their entry, the process, the readers or the reports or discussions about their work.

The information below is designed to let you know what happens after your play is submitted. It is in no way an indication of what kind of play you should write or how you should write it.

  • Stage 1: First Read

    All the scripts entered for The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting are read by one of our readers, who each work through a proportion of the entries. We guarantee to read the first 40 pages of every script entered into the The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.

    At this stage we are reading for the quality of the dramatic writing according to the broadest possible criteria:

    Subject Matter – where narrative-driven or not, is there a clear sense of story which is for the stage, is there a sense that the writer is pursuing something that excites them?

    Dialogue and Language – at whatever level, does the script show a feel for speech and dialogue? Does the writer create a sense of drama through the language and think about language as a live means of expression on stage? Does the writer engage with language (physical and verbal) in an interesting way?

    Development – does the script put things at stake, is there a sense of drama and conflict, do the characters develop and change through the play, does the world or situation develop and change, does the audience go on a journey?

    Audience – does the play engage with a live audience as a piece of theatre or does it have the potential to do that.

    Scripts are then categorized by readers

    Grade A – immediate further read, go straight to Stage Three
    Grade B – second read
    Grade C – no further progress

  • Stage 2: Second Read

    Readers are encouraged to recommend plays for a second read if there is any doubt in their mind or feel a second pair of eyes should take a look at the play. When a play goes through Stage Two, the reader looks at the whole play and writes a short report, recommending one of three things:

    1. The Play should go to Stage Three and be a contender for the Longlist
    2. The Play might be a candidate for feedback
    3. The Play should not progress past Stage Two

    This stage of the process tests the strength of the qualities described above, whether the potential is clear to two readers and helps define where the script’s strengths and weaknesses lie.

  • Stage 3: Third Read

    New readers are brought in at this stage of the process to provide fresh eyes to the scripts and create a new level playing field for all the entries that have reached this stage. Each reader reads the entire script, really considering its strengths, and writes a more extensive report on the play. The aim of this stage is to identify the plays which will progress onto the Feedback List and potentially onto the Longlist. Each reader will recommend one of three things:

    1. This play should be a contender for the Longlist
    2. This play should be on the Feedback List
    3. This play should not progress past Stage Three

  • Stage 4: Longlisting

    This part of the process involves new readers and the New Writing Associate at the Royal Exchange Theatre. The aim of this stage is to identify the Longlist of 30-40 plays with comments on potential entries for the Shortlist.

    Two lists are created through Stage Four –

    1. Feedback List – a list of plays we feel represent the best 100 entries which will receive a detailed report and feedback.

    2. Longlist – 30-40 of those scripts which are the strongest candidates for the Prizes.

    This list of top 100 entries will receive full written feedback on their work and our response to it. By this point in the process, the play will have been read by at least three different people and will therefore receive a range of feedback. The aim of this feedback is to suggest where the play impressed or intrigued us and where we feel there may be potential to explore further. This isn’t intended as a set of notes for the next draft or how to write the play more successfully but more a series of provocations and questions to hopefully enable you to write the play you want to write.

  • Stage 5: Shortlisting

    All the plays on the Longlist are discussed at a Script Meeting with the Royal Exchange Theatre Artistic Directors, core artistic staff and other members of the theatre involved in new work. There will also be two new readers at this stage who will have extensive experience of new writing and new work for the theatre. The aim of this meeting is to produce a Shortlist of plays that we feel are serious candidates for development and production.

    A Shortlist of 10 plays then goes forward to the Judges for the awards to be made.

Key dates
  • 21 Jan 2019
    Open for submissions this week- DATE TO BE CONFIRMED
  • 5 Jun 2019
    6pm - submission close
  • 26 Jun 2019
    Phase One Reading Complete
  • 19 Jul 2019
    Phase Two Reading Complete
  • 16 Aug 2019
    Phase 3 Reading Complete
  • 12 Sep 2019
    Longlist of Top 100 Plays Announced
  • 14 Oct 2019
    Shortlist Announced
  • 4 Nov 2019
    2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Ceremony
  • 29 Dec 2019
    Feedback sent to Longlist Plays
Prize guidelines


  1. The competition is open to anyone residing in the UK or Republic of Ireland or British Overseas Territory or with a British Forces Post Office address. *
  2. Entrants must be sixteen or over. There is no upper age limit.
  3. Scripts must be submitted anonymously under a pseudonym.
  4. We can only accept one entry per person.
  5. The competition opens on in January 2019 (date TBC) , with the deadline for entry being 6pm on Tuesday 5 June 2019. Any entries received after this time will not be read.
  6. We are only able to accept entries submitted online. No paper entries will be considered within the judging process. Please do not submit any supporting materials including CDs, photographs, reviews or any audiovisual material.
  7. Scripts must be submitted by the writer themselves and not by an agent or any other third party.


  1. The play must an original, unperformed and unproduced piece of work. ∞
  2. The play must be an hour long or more in playing time.
  3. We do not accept translations, adaptations of other pieces of work or musicals. We also do not accept plays written exclusively for younger audiences.
  4. The entrant must exclusively own and control all copyright and all other related rights to the submitted script.
  5. The submitted play must be available for production and unattached to any other theatre or company. Any scripts that have been professionally optioned, produced or published will be disqualified.
  6. We do accept plays co-authored by more than one writer. Please ensure that only one entry is submitted with one set of contact details.
  7. If you have won a prize in any previous Bruntwood competition, you may not enter a script. However, you may enter if you have been shortlisted or longlisted in the past.


    1. All scripts awarded prizes are automatically under option to the Royal Exchange Theatre for a period of eighteen months after the announcement of the awards.
    2. If a winning script is produced by the Royal Exchange Theatre, the prize money will replace all first production or development fees. However, the standard percentage of box office receipts and rehearsal attendance fees will still be paid to the writer.
    3. We regret that no correspondence can be entered into regarding any part of the judging process.


* We define resident through your ability to produce, if asked, proof of main address on a driving license, appropriate Inland Revenue document, or if not in possession of these, a phone bill with proof of address. A full list of British Overseas Territories can be found at 

∞ Amateur performances do not apply. Unproduced means the play cannot have received a professional production in any form, anywhere in the world, apart from one rehearsed reading only.


Here is a list of common questions that we have been asked previously about the Prize and entering your play. We will update these as the competition continues, but if your question isn’t answered here, please contact us at

  • Is my play eligible for the Bruntwood Prize?

    The entry criteria for the Prize are as open as possible, allowing a wide range of writers to enter. To check that you and your play are eligible, please read the rules. If you have a particular question not covered by the rules, please contact us and we will respond as quickly as possible. Where clarification does become necessary, it will be provided on this website.

  • When will I hear about the success of my entry?

    The deadline for entries is 6pm on 5 June 2017 and the shortlist of plays, which will go forward to the judging panel, will be communicated to shortlisted writers the week of the 25 October 2017.

    The Top 100 Feedback List of scripts will be announced on this website in September 2017. This list of top 100 entries will receive full written feedback on their work and our response to it. These writers will receive their feedback by the end of 2017.

    We are unable to notify writers of their progress through the competition before these dates as our ability to do so depends on the number of entries.

    Unfortunately we are unable to give feedback on unsuccessful scripts which did not make it into the Top 100, due to the high number of entries we receive.

  • Can I enter any other playwriting prizes alongside the Bruntwood?

    We would actively encourage you to enter your script into any prizes and competitions for which it is eligible. However, if your script wins or is commissioned/optioned for production by another company during the process of judging for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, you will need to contact us as soon as possible to withdraw from the competition. At that point, the script would become ineligible for this competition.

  • If I win, will my play be performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre?

    All four winners of the competition will have the chance to enter into a relationship with the Royal Exchange with the aim of developing their play towards production.

    Six of these relationships have now resulted in full productions for winning plays, but none of the prizes come with a guaranteed production. The Theatre is serious about developing and producing Bruntwood-winning work, but is not able to offer productions as part of any of the Prizes.

  • How do I judge the length of my play?

    The competition rules state that plays must be of an hour or more in playing time. No exact measure can be made of the length of a piece of writing for theatre, but it can be useful to consider an evenly covered A4 page as just over a minute’s worth of stage time. There is no upper limit to the length of your script.

  • What counts as an adaptation of another piece of work?

    The aim of The Bruntwood Prize is to find an original piece of work for the stage. Scripts that take inspiration from or share links to existing stories are not excluded from entry. Any play that provides a close re-telling of an existing story or another writer’s work is, however, not eligible.

  • When do you find out who has written the scripts?

    Scripts remain entirely anonymous throughout the judging process for the competition. Once the shortlist has gone forward to the judges, those writers will be contacted by the theatre and informed. The judging panel has no knowledge about the writers of each script and the writers are only revealed when the awards themselves are announced.

  • What should I do if I've made a mistake with entry?

    If you’ve uploaded the wrong document or made a mistake in the entry process, please contact us. It’s best not to try and enter the Prize again, but to let us make any amendments at this end.

  • Does my play have to be in a particular format?

    Other than making sure the document contains your pseudonym, the title of the play and no other personal or contact information, there are no rules about how your play should be formatted or how any of it should be laid out.

  • Can my play have had a production before?

    The rules of the Prize state that no play can have received a professional production but that if your play has received an amateur production it is still eligible for the competition. We define a professional production via the following criteria;

    Have tickets been sold to a paying audience?

    Have you been paid for the play or actors and other collaborators have been paid for their work?

    Has the production received promotion and marketing to sell tickets?

    Was a professional producer attached to the production?

    If you answer no to these questions the production will be defined as amateur.

    If you have any further questions about whether a play that’s received a production is eligible, please contact us.

  • What does an 'original' play mean?

    The rules state that a play must be ‘original’ and not a translation or an adaptation of another piece of work. This means that the piece cannot be based wholly or largely on an existing piece of fiction or non-fiction writing. Biographical work and plays with a strong factual or historical content are eligible for the competition.

    This does not mean we exclude plays that take inspiration from or make reference to existing stories, myth or fiction.

  • Do I have to live in the UK or Ireland to enter?

    The rules state that to enter the prize you should be able to provide proof of a main or primary address within the UK or Ireland. If you are primarily based outside this area unfortunately we aren’t able to accept your entry.

    As well as the large number of scripts we receive, the reasons for this include the fact that from the announcement of the winners, those writers engage in a process of development with the Royal Exchange.

  • I haven't received a confirmation email about my entry?

    After you have successfully completed the entry process, you should receive a confirmation email from us to let you know your entry has been successful. This email may take an hour or so to arrive. If you haven’t received it do check your junk mail. You can also email us to get confirmation of your entry at (please include your pseudonym and play title).

  • Does my play have to be in English?

    We welcome submissions that use languages other than English, however please make an English translation available within the first 40 pages of the script to enable our readers to assess your work fairly.

  • Are cast sizes taken into consideration?

    No, the number of performers required is not taken into consideration during the judging process. Some of the past Bruntwood Prize winners have had large casts sizes. It is the story that is important to the readers, not the size of the cast.