Theatre seeks drama in 100 words or fewer

Members of public encouraged to pen a play for Royal Court's Young Writers Festival

Until now, Samuel Beckett was thought to have written the shortest ever play – called Breath – which runs to 35 seconds. But London's Royal Court Theatre could soon produce a few rivals after it called for dramas with no more than 100 words.

The bite-sized scripts are part of the theatre's Young Writers Festival, which will see works by members of the public displayed alongside established dramatists to ensure that the "entire building will be overflowing with new short plays".

The works will not be performed, but written onto the walls, lifts and even the toilet doors of the theatre until the end of the festival in mid-April. "We liked the idea that the plays were seeping out of the building," said festival organiser Clare McQuillan.

Established writers who have already contributed to the project include playwright DC Moore, whose works have been performed at the National Theatre, and actress Zawe Ashton, a star of Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat.

The subject matter that the mini-plays cover can certainly be described as diverse. There is romance, there are jokes, and even, in one handwritten offering, reference to "a deafening sound of a donkey sacrifice". "Many have involved a sudden revelation, that causes a shift," Ms McQuillan said. "Initially quite a few involved declarations of love."

The overall response has been so positive that the theatre is already running out of space to display the submissions. "There has been a deluge," Ms McQuillan said.

The Young Writers Festival is in its 39th year, but this is the first time it has included the 100-Word Play. It was the brainchild of Tom Lyons, who landed his job as a studio assistant after suggesting the idea during his interview for the role.

Ms McQuillan and her team have received 260 short works so far. More are expected after playwright and Royal Court resident Leo Butler gave a workshop over the weekend on how to write for the form. The Royal Court team have read all the submissions, and while they have to make sure "there isn't anything we wouldn't want on our walls", most of the mini-scripts will be displayed somewhere in the building.

"Our process is collaborative, not selective," Ms McQuillan said. "We put up as many as we can." Some of the new works can be taken home, as the festival organisers have printed a number of the plays on beer mats in the theatre bar, and on the back of some tickets.

Ms McQuillan added: "We wanted to show the festival was different to just staging plays and readings. We wanted the audience to get involved, and inspire them to explore what the play-writing process is like."

This year marks the "biggest ever" year of the festival, with two productions of new plays, four staged readings, 10 short plays and a series of free workshops and talks.

Two mini dramas, by Philip Hensher

Our resident literary genius (and author of Booker-shortlisted The Northern Clemency) offers some inspiration with two 100-word dramas of his own...

The Passive Mood

- So what you're saying is –

- The decision's been made.

- But who made it? Can I talk to them?

- They can't be spoken to, I'm afraid. There's nothing more that can be done.

- Please, this is – just let me speak to someone.

- Everything has been taken into consideration before the decision was reached.

- But who made the decision?

- Those who were appointed to take the matter into consideration.

- You do know you're talking about my son.

- Nothing more can be done, I'm afraid.

- Why are you doing this?

- Me? I'm not doing anything. It's not my business. I only work here.

The Elephant in the Room

- What's that?

- What's what?

- That...thing. There.

- What? I'm reading.

- I don't know how you can read with that...thing in the way.

- The light's so bad in here. I'm going to Habitat to buy a new light tomorrow.

- Habitat's closed down. It went bankrupt.

- That's right. Heal's, then. They've got nice lights.

- Expensive.

- Expensive.

- You've changed your password.

- What?

- On your computer. You've changed your password. I wasn't looking. I just saw.

- Oh yes.

- It was Jacqueline.

- Yes?

- Your password, it was Jacqueline. But now it isn't.

- No, it isn't. Is that better?

- What?

- The...It seemed to move. Light's better now.

Arts and Entertainment Musical by Damon Albarn


Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment


film review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'