The Painkiller Project is now a monthly playwriting competition with a small £150 prize for each winning play.

Two plays will be selected each month and released fortnightly as podcasts (available here). So far our plays have featured Sophie Thompson, Toby Jones, Miriam Margolyes and Owen Teale.


Winning playwrights will also get the chance to have a "video coffee" with a line-up of established theatre makers over the coming weeks, including Laura Wade, James Graham, Ryan Craig, Anne-Louise Sarks and David Eldridge.

​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 and so far things have gone really well. Our aim is to keep the project in place until theatres in the UK reopen. 

As things currently stand, we are getting closer to the point where everyone involved in the project gets paid. This is because of the generosity of those who have donated to the project, to whom we would like to say, thank you so much. 

If you can afford to donate, or if you know anyone who might want to support the project, there are two options:


  • You can make a one-off donation through

  • Or, you can become a patron to the project through Patreon. This allows you to make a donation that would be repeated each time a new winning play is released, roughly once a fortnight.

It would mean the world to us and allow us to make more work.

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

Finally, as we make changes to the project please let us know if you have any other questions or feedback - we want to make this something that feels like a collaborative experience. If you spot things you think we've overlooked, we want to know!

To get updates about The Painkiller Project you can subscribe to Bitter Pill's mailing list.


​Thank you for your support and spread the word!

The information.

Our next submission window will be from 
Monday 31st August (10am) until Thursday 3rd September (10pm) - please send to

All submissions should be made with the following forms attached:

- Our submission form

- Our equal opportunities form


We encourage you to use a pen name.


Plays should be written for 1 or 2 actors.

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 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.


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 must be between 500 and 1500 words. 

For now, all plays need to be written for a maximum of 2 actors.

All plays should have been written post 20 March 2020 (the day most theatre buildings closed in the UK). We also request you do not submit more than one play per submission window.
Plays with the following words included within them will still be considered but we think it might be a good idea to avoid them:

social distancing, coronavirus, COVID, the virus, self-isolation, self-isolate, antibody test, quarantine, Dominic Cummings, herd immunity, Wuhan, Stay Alert, vaccine, lockdown, Boris Johnson, furlough, pandemic, Durham, Zoom (the app), hydroxychloroquine, Donald Trump, excess deaths, Matt Hancock, stock-piling, toilet paper (within the context of stock-piling), symptoms, asymptomatic, a new or continuous cough, PPE clothing, Sweden, Governor Cuomo, face mask, exit strategy, second peak.


Please note we're not suggesting you try and write a play about coronavirus which simply excludes these words. You can write about absolutely anything and it is probably inevitable that the state of things will influence everything and everyone at the moment. Tackling the subject head-on, however, and writing "The Resistible Rise of Rishi Sunak" or "Waiting for Herd Immunity" might be a bit premature!

Best of luck writing, and we hope people find this interesting! Let's try and make some plays.
 @BitterTheatre on Twitter for updates.

Past Productions


Bitter Pill Limited

Company Number 9863613