Bitter Pill Limited

Company Number 9863613

April 2020 - Scream Festival


We have been thinking about how to respond to the new limitations on what we can do and have come up with an idea - a fortnightly playwriting competition with a small £150 prize for the winning play. We hope that the repetitive nature of the competition helps to make the project feel collaborative and cyclical - like theatre.


We hope this a good idea, it may not be - we don't know. But, if it works then we hope to improve it/keep it going every week that distancing measures remain in place.

We have already raised some money to get the festival off the ground. If people like this idea and it grows we hope to increase prize money and pay everyone else involved in the project. For this to happen, in the long run, we are going to be reliant on the generosity of others.


If you can afford, or if you know anyone who can afford to donate to the continuation of the festival please do so through our JUST GIVING page (link). Please only donate if you feel you can afford it.


Any money raised will go exclusively towards the winning playwrights, designers and readers.

Finally, please give us lots of feedback on the below and let us know if you have any other questions - we want to make this something that feels like a collaborative experience that works for everyone who wants to be involved.


The idea.


From W/C Monday 13 April we will be open for submissions of plays between Monday 13th April (10am) and Friday 17th April (10pm) - please send to

On Sunday 19th April we will announce a winning play. The winner will receive £150 upfront. We will try to give feedback to as many plays as possible but will only give it if we think it is helpful rather than for the sake of it - we don't have all (or even many) of the answers!


Each winning play will be produced (in audio form) and released online approximately 1 week on from being announced as the winner. Each winner will also have the chance to have a video coffee with an established theatre maker. The first week this will be with...

The second submission window will be from 27-30th April. After this date, we will see how we're doing and work out how best to move forward and whether this is sustainable.

The how.


Using recording equipment and by working with innovative sound designers. 


The plays will be directed over online video technology, recorded and then released.

Once all this is over we would hope to bring the winning plays together for some kind of physical event. 


The twist(s).


We are looking for short plays. Plays should between 500 and 1500 words.


We wonder whether the term “monologue” might be a bit restrictive? For now, all plays need to be performable by one actor (we might try and increase this depending on what we learn).


All plays should have been written post 20 March 2020 (the day most theatre buildings closed in the UK).


All submissions should be done with the following form attached. Download here.


We encourage you not to use your real name when you submit.


Plays with the following words included within them will still be considered but we actively encourage you to avoid using them.

social distancing, coronavirus, COVID, the virus, self-isolation, self-isolate, antibody test, quarantine, ventilators, Chris Whitty, herd immunity, Lombardy, Wuhan, flattening the sombrero, stay at home, vaccine, Dyson, lockdown, Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Corbyn, super spreader, Keir Starmer, Houseparty (the app), Zoom (the app), Skype, shielding, Donald Trump, mortality rate Matt Hancock, stock-piling, toilet paper (within the context of stock-piling), symptoms, asymptomatic, a new or continuous cough, PPE clothing, Sweden, Mayor Cuomo.

It is probably inevitable that the state of things will influence everything and everyone at the moment but tackling the subject head-on and writing "The Resistible Rise of Rishi Sunak" or "Waiting for Herd Immunity" might be a bit premature!

Finally, we wonder whether this from Tennessee Williams might be useful.

"A play that is more of a dramatic poem than a play is bound to rest on metaphorical ways of expression. Symbols and their meanings must be arrived at through a period of time which is often a long one, requiring much patience, but if you wait out this period of time, if you permit it to clear as naturally as a sky after a storm, it will reward you, finally, with a puzzle which is still puzzling but which, whether you fathom it or not, still has the beautifully disturbing sense of truth, as much of that ambiguous quality as we are permitted to know in all our seasons and travels and places of short stay on this risky planet." 


Best of luck writing and we hope people find this interesting! Let's try and make some plays.