Back for a sixth year running, the Tobacco Factory Theatre’s Script Space new writing competition has a received an impressive 321 submissions from all over the South West and beyond. Entries have come in from Bedminster to Exeter; Frome to Tenby; Weston to Gloucester and Warminster to Clifton! Entries to the initiative are all hoping to be awarded bespoke development opportunities with our dynamic Southville – based Tobacco Factory Theatre.



Well, we’re not sure, mainly because it depends on the submissions that we get. To give you an idea of what could happen, here’s how we’re working with one of the three winning writers of last year’s competition:


Manchester-based playwright Becky Prestwich is spending an intensive couple of days working with dramaturg David Lane on her play The Boy in the Photograph – hearing the piece read, looking at the nuts and bolts of how it works and identifying solid action points for taking it to the stage. She’s then going to go away and work up a next draft. When that’s delivered, we’ll look at whether it would be additionally helpful for there to be a rehearsed reading with professional actors for Becky to get a good idea of what she needs to do next.



Every script submitted for this year’s competition  will now be carefully considered by our handpicked team of readers, comprised of directors, actors, writers, dramaturgs and producers from the South West and beyond.  By early April we will have compiled a long-list of around 40 submissions.


A new team of readers then meets through April to decide on a shortlist of 10-12 plays; these are then passed to a final judging panel and the 1-3 winning entries will be announced early June.


Script Space co-ordinator and local director Heidi Vaughan says:

“We are all eagerly anticipating some wonderful new work amongst our entries. In terms of what we are looking for, we want to be exposed to work which is unique and has something to say about the world. The plays need to speak to us, surprise and challenge us if needs be. We don’t care how they do this. Some scripts might be traditional in form and character construction; others might be more fragmented, absurd and visceral. However, there needs to be something within the final pieces with a touch of soul, a heartbeat, an intention.”


Writers and other interested parties can keep up-to-date with the reading process by following the Script Space blog on the Tobacco Factory Theatre’s website ( ‘Footnotes’ will see  a number of the readers, as well as writers and artists involved in last year’s Script Space, reflecting on issues and ideas around new writing and developing new work as the competition progresses.


“Script Space is a wonderful opportunity both for us as an organisation and for the winning writers. For us it’s a chance to discover something completely unknown and unexpected that wouldn’t have crossed our paths were it not for this open competition. For the winning writers it’s a chance to develop a relationship with a theatre that’s committed to supporting the development of work of the highest quality, irrespective of its style or genre.Carrie, TF+ Office, Tobacco Factory Theatre


Script Space has gone from strength to strength since its inception five years ago. So far the initiative has worked with over twenty emerging and established writers, bringing their new plays before an audience for the first time in the form of script-in-hand readings. In 2011, Script Space IV took place in collaboration with Bristol Festival of Ideas and realised a new capacity for and commitment to bespoke development opportunities, producing a small-scale run of Digits by Tamsin Walker and carrying out development work on The Girl from Sparta Road by Martin Lytton with director Lee Lyford and students from City of Bristol College. There were three winners of Script Space V in 2012: Becky Prestwich (The Boy in the Photograph), Dipika Guha (A Brief History of America) and Joe Ledbury (Meat), and this spring we’re working with each of them to take their work forward. Exactly what we’re doing and how to get involved will be available on the website soon.