Skip to content

Theatre By The Bay offering $500 prize in unique new contest

The 24-hour playwrighting contest is open to anyone; 'Artists need a deadline to get over the procrastination barrier,' says official

The stages may be dark, but Theatre By The Bay is keeping local theatre fans engaged with a new playwright contest. 

In support of the City of Barrie’s Culture Days festivities, Theatre By The Bay (TBTB) is launching a new 24-hour playwriting contest. Those who participate will have 24 hours to write a one-act script, no more than 45 minutes to read, that must incorporate three secret requirements. 

On Oct. 16 at 6 p.m., TBTB will reveal three secret elements that must be included in all script submissions. Those can be things like items that must be used in the play, a location where the play must be set or featured somehow, lines that must be said, etc. 

Artistic director Iain Moggach said the secret elements are to make sure no one gets a head start before the official launch of the contest. 

“We will be revealing the secret elements through our social media and our website, so there will be lots of places to find out what they are,” said Moggach. “I can say that we chose requirements that could be taken in all sorts of different creative directions.”

Moggach said this is the first time TBTB has tried something like this, which is not the same as their Barrie Theatre Lab, which has run the last three years. 

“The lab is a free script development workshop series we do every month, so nothing with the spontaneity and hard deadline of a 24-hour playwriting contest,” said Moggach. “I find, even in the best of times, artists need a deadline to get over the procrastination barrier. I also have heard from a lot of artists that, because of the pandemic, they have struggled to create anything.”

Moggach hopes this contest will help people find their footing again and create something. 

The contest is open to anyone, no matter their level of experience in writing a play or writing at all. Moggach has advice for those unsure if they can complete the task.

“The best advice I can probably give is to finish the first draft as quickly as possible. Don’t doubt yourself. Just let it pour out as the story comes to you,” said Moggach. “Once that first draft is finished, look at what you have written and ask yourself 'What am I actually saying with this play? What is the heart of this story?' Try to get specific with that.”

Moggach said that “all first drafts are brutal,” and to get to work editing and even take a look at how other plays are written to get some background. 

After a few days of deliberation from the judges, the winner will receive a $500 cash prize as well as a rehearsed reading of the script through Theatre by the Bay’s Youtube channel on the closing weekend of Culture Days. The runner-up will receive $200.

This initiative is supported by the City of Barrie, with support through the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

For more information, check out TBTB's website or send your questions to [email protected]

People are also encouraged to follow TBTB's social media channels and to join the Facebook event called 24 Hour Playwriting Contest.

Make sure your scripts are sent to [email protected] before the deadline. There are also a few formatting requirements for the documents to make sure the judges have no idea who wrote each script.