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Monday, May 3, 2021

inspiraTO’s Ten-minute Audio Drama Playwriting Contest

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Deadline: May 16, 2021, 11:59 pm E.S.T.

We are excited to offer our first ever ten-minute audio drama playwriting contest. There is a wonderful intimacy in listening to drama - like a stranger telling you a secret. Theater inspiraTO is ready to add your voice to further showcase the beauty and brevity of this art form.

Please read the terms and conditions below and scroll down to submit your play. Be part of it all.


Six to ten, ten-minute plays will be selected and be professionally produced as a radio drama and hosted on the Theatre inspiraTO website.

You must submit online (scroll to the bottom of the page) by May 16, 2021, 11:59 pm E.S.T. There are no fees. Once you submit you will be taken to a page confirming that we have received your submission. You may only submit one play (if more than one play is submitted you will be automatically disqualified).

The play must be a ten-minute play. The theme "in-touch" must be an integral part of the play. The story can be a comedy, a drama, a parody, a monologue, absurd or anything in between (in English only). We do not censor scripts for language. We do not accept musicals. This must be drama (a play). The contest is open to anyone, in any part of the world, without geographic or age restrictions (not open to the inspiraTO executive, board members or their immediate families).

What will happen

The plays will be selected by a committee from the Toronto theatre community. If selected, your play will be professionally produced as a radio drama and hosted on the theatre inspiraTO website in late October/early November 2021 for one year. Between six to ten, ten-minute plays will be selected.

Only those playwrights whose plays have been selected will be notified by June 24, 2021. We do not give feedback on any play submitted. The production of the play, including the directors, cast and sound tech will be determined and executed by the inspiraTO artistic team.

Your creativity, our pledge

Should your play be selected, you are giving the non-exclusive right to Theatre inspiraTO to produce the play in inspiraTO’s Ten-minute Audio Drama Showcase. Theatre inspiraTO will find the cast, director, production facility, editing and posting the finished play in audio drama format on the inspiraTO Festival website for one full year. Theatre inspiraTO will be offering this free to listeners and will not be collecting any fees from the public. Playwrights retain copyright and full ownership of their plays. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your creativity.

Submitting your script

1. You must submit online and fill out the form and attach your script (see below to submit). You may only submit one play (if more than one play is submitted you will be automatically disqualified). The cover page should have the title of the play, the playwright's name and the list of characters. The pages should be numbered. The format should be easy to read. We accept previously produced plays (but not plays that have produced at inspiraTO before). You must own the rights to the play (i.e. the script cannot be owned by a publisher).

2. We only accept electronic submissions in PDF or a Word document. If you produce your work on a Mac, please be sure that your document will open on a PC.

3. Keep the format well-spaced out and easy to read. Examples of script formatting we like:



4. You do not need to include any sound or music cues. The beauty of a well written play is that the director of the play (from inspiraTO) will see the potential of how to incorporate sound. Any sound/music cues you do indicate will be treated as stage direction and used at the discretion of inspiraTO’s artistic team. We want to produce the best radio drama we can and need to ensure the right technology is used and the overall flow and quality is appropriate.

5. The play needs to be ten-minutes in length. We allow a one-minute leeway: the play should not be less than 9 minutes and not more than 11 minutes long. When writing the script allow for sound elements and pauses to be incorporated. The best way to do this is to read your script, including pauses and potential sound cues, into your smartphone and time it. This is not an exact science so there will be room for rough estimates. The committee will disqualify any play that are clearly under or way over ten-minutes.

6. Theme: the play must address the theme, “in-touch”. You decide the story you want to tell that addresses the theme and that works best in an audio drama format.



What we’re looking for

We want you to tell a story using all the elements in writing a quality ten-minute play: distinct characters facing obstacles in pursuit of some specific goal – through the exclusive element of dialogue and sound. We want to see a complete story through rising action, conflict, and a climactic moment that addresses the theme, “in-touch”. Don’t be afraid to be bold, daring and imaginative: get the listeners attention fast and keep them interested.

Writing an audio drama

When writing an audio drama keep in mind that you are writing in an art form that relies on telling a story through the element of sound. Below are some links to further explore this fascinating art form.

If you want to be good in writing audio drama listen to audio dramas. Samples:


Short plays (not necessarily a ten-minute play):




Other websites we recommend you listen to: http://www.playmepodcast.com/

A plethora of audio radio drama resources (and a shout out to Jack Ward for his insight): https://sonicsociety.org/

Options to use in audio drama:

set up the scene in the form of a narration before the play opens

voice-overs: we can be listening into a character’s thoughts

allow room for sounds and sensations to be used that give clues to the environment of the play (i.e. wind, footsteps etc.)

An excellent primer in writing audio drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uE3IHn5IuE

Final words

“You can do so much more in audio, you can go anywhere. Use your imagination; go from the top of Everest to the depths of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific. Travel to new worlds. Go inside someone’s head… go inside and live in their head…you can go microscopic…you can go cosmic.

Good radio drama, good audio drama, is ‘go and make a world’, go and paint a picture in sound, which makes the imagination create huge fascinating pictures…even huge fascinating pictures of tiny things. If it’s a man locked in a cell for twenty years, and you are just with him in that cell, you can still explore everything about the human condition, and you can do it with colour, and texture, and light.

And you’re just working in sound.”

-Dirk Maggs

Audio drama is more than just a blinded stage or screen. It has its own peculiar spectrum of aural shades and textures. Listen to audio dramas. Get to know them.

Hear your story come to life.


If you have any questions please email: nicolesantospm[at]gmail.com

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