The Painkiller Project Submission Window is now closed. It will reopen from Monday 30th November 10am - Thursday 3rd December 10pm.

The Painkiller Project is a monthly playwriting competition with a £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 Noma Dumezweni, Toby Jones, Miriam Margolyes, Pearl Mackie and Jessica Barden.

​Our aim is that the repetitive nature of the competition helps to make the project feel collaborative and cyclical - like theatre.

The Painkiller Project is now supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


Since March 2020 it has become crucial to the development of emerging playwrights. Now, we want to keep the project in place until theatres in the UK fully reopen and hopefully beyond.

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

  • 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.

  • Or, you can make a one-off donation through

Any donation would mean the world to us and help us to create more plays for the podcast.

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

To get updates about The Painkiller Project you can subscribe to Bitter Pill's mailing list at the top of the page.


​Thank you for your support and spread the word!

The information.

Our next submission window will be from 
Monday 2 November (10am) until Thursday 5 November (10pm).


During this period we will allow access to our portal that can be found here. You will only be able to submit your script during a submission window.

Before submitting your script, please make sure that:

  • Your name, email address and any personal details do NOT appear anywhere on your script

  • Your script is no longer than 1500 words, including directions and character names.

  • It includes a title page with a title, a synopsis and a casting suggestion for each character

  • It is either a PDF or Word file

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 the answers!

Each winning play will be produced (in audio form) and released on The Painkiller Podcast in the following weeks.

At some stage, we hope to bring the winning plays together for some kind of physical event. 

The twists.

All plays should have been written post 20 March 2020 - the day most UK theatres closed. 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, antibodies, T-cells, quarantine, Dominic Cummings, herd immunity, Wuhan, Stay Alert, vaccine, lockdown, Boris Johnson, furlough, pandemic, Durham, Zoom (the app), Donald Trump, excess deaths, Matt Hancock, symptoms, asymptomatic, a new or continuous cough, PPE clothing, Sweden, Governor Cuomo, face mask, exit strategy, second peak, loss of taste or smell, Jacinda Arden.


Please note we're not suggesting you try and write a play about Covid-19 which simply excludes these words. You can write about absolutely anything and it is probably inevitable the way the world is at the moment will influence everything and everyone to some extent. 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.


@BitterTheatre on Twitter for updates.

Bitter Pill Limited

Company Number 9863613