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25th International Radio Playwriting Competition

Posted on 15/02/2017
By Commonwealth Foundation

The 25th International Radio Playwriting Competition is organised by the BBC World Service and the British Council, with co-producer The Open University and in partnership with Commonwealth Writers. This year over 1,000 scripts were submitted from a record 112 countries.

Joanne Gutknecht from Canada won the English as a First Language category for her script Playing With Fire, while Pericles Silveira from Brazil triumphed in the English as a Second Language category with his play The Day Dad Stole a Bus.

As part of their prize, Joanne and Pericles are visited the UK to attend the prize-giving ceremony on 26 October at Marlborough House, London, and experience their winning radio scripts being recorded at the BBC ahead of their broadcast on the BBC World Service in 2017.

Erupu Jude from Uganda was awarded the Georgi Markov prize for his play Darkness at Dawn. The unique prize – which honours the script with the most outstanding potential from the competition’s shortlist – was set up in memory of BBC World Service journalist Georgi Markov who championed freedom of creative expression.

The judging panel included: award-winning playwright, Charlotte Jones; Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, Madani Younis; and actress Pippa Bennett-Warner; alongside BBC World Service Senior Commissioning Editor, Steve Titherington; Director of Drama and Dance at the British Council, Neil Webb; and Executive Producer of BBC Radio Drama, Marion Nancarrow.


English as a first language

Playing with Fire, Joanne Gutknecht (Canada)

As a wildfire speeds towards their remote house in rural Canada, passion and scandal rages in Daniel’s parents’ marriage.

Joanne Gutknecht was raised in a small rural community in Manitoba, Canada, and now resides in Winnipeg, Canada.

Joanne developed an early interest in writing stories and poetry, but followed an alternative career path. She currently works as a Contracts Officer and travels in the Canadian Arctic, supporting Inuit businesses.

Joanne is involved in various charities and is passionate about human rights issues.

Playing with Fire is her first play.

English as a second language

The Day Dad Stole a Bus, Pericles Silveira (Brazil)

Nayara’s father wants her to see her grandmother’s house after the dam disaster in Bento Rodrigues. But why has he stolen a bus to take her there – and why do things keep disappearing?


Pericles Silveira writes on commission for cinema, television, theatre and radio. He has a bachelor’s degree in screenwriting and photography from the University of São Paulo (USP) and studied acting at The School of Theater Célia-Helena.

In 2010 he worked as an ad-hoc screenwriting consultant to the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. He wrote and co-directed with Mauricio Taveira Arthur 2.0, an interactive short film that uses eye-tracking technology so the viewer can make narrative decisions in real time.  In 2014 he was selected as a new author by the Núcleo de Dramaturgia SESI-British Council, where he wrote Parallax Error, a dystopian farce about a dictator and a girl who fights for LGBTQ rights, which was published by SESI-SP Editora.

Pericles’ work as a dramatist includes Fermata, a play that portrays the actor’s fond memories of his grandfather as an ostrich and the actor’s own struggle, using art to overcome speech impairments. Fermata was presented at the Cultural Circuit of São Paulo in 2015.

The Day Dad Stole a Bus is his first play for radio.

Georgi Markow Prize

Darkness at Dawn, Erupu Jude (Uganda)

Chadwong wrestles with his conscience after his father is killed in a brutal attack on their village. Will his friend persuade him to join the Arrow Boys – and fight?


Erupu Jude was born in Kaberamaido district in the North-Eastern Uganda Region.

He is a teacher by profession with a Bachelor of Arts with Education degree in English Language and Literature from Makerere University. Currently, he is pursuing Master of Development Studies from Uganda Martyrs University. He also works on contract in Mpigi District, Uganda, for the Watoto Childcare Ministries.

Darkness at Dawn is inspired by his experiences avoiding capture by the Lords Resistance Army in Lira. Writing is Erupu’s way to honour the voices of the people he witnessed in the Internally Displaced Camps.


Janet Morrison
Janet Morrison, Jamaica

English as a first language

Goodbye Kofi, Bode Asiyanbi, (Nigeria)

Tomorrow’s Child, Janet Morrison, (Jamaica)

Easter Island, Anton Krueger, (South Africa)

Playing With Fire, Joanne Gutknecht, (Canada)

Listening, Leland Frankel, (USA)

The Virgin Missile Crisis, Hoyt Hilsman, (USA)

If You Come This Way Again, Lindsay Nightingale, (Australia)

English as a second language

The Day Dad Stole a Bus, Pericles Silveira, (Brazil)

Only Some of Us, Elizabeth Gail, (South Africa)

The Waterloo, Ifeoluwa Watson, (Nigeria)

The Confessions, Thomas Hukahu, (Papua New Guinea)

The Maid Who Made It, Mariam Samah, (India)

Darkness at Dawn, Erupu Jude, (Uganda)

Tell them where I am, Ivy Rose Universe Baldoza, (Philippines)

Commonwealth Writers’ supports the BBC World Service Playwriting Competition to give voice and a platform for ideas and opinions from writers working in genres we are not directly working with. Many of the issues addressed by these writers are directly or tangentially political and by seeking to influence their communities they can also play a part in actively shaping society.

The competition has two first prizes – one for writers with English as a first language and another for writers with English as a second language. A third award – the Georgi Markov Prize – celebrates the most promising script from the competition’s shortlist in honour of BBC World Service journalist and writer Georgi Markov (1929–1978).

Winners of the prize attend the award ceremony in London and see their plays recorded for broadcast on the BBC World Service, and spend two weeks with BBC Radio Drama and BBC World Service. They also spend a day with Commonwealth Writers for a workshop with experienced radio dramatists.