No, that’s nothing to do with hairstyle in our nether regions. We’ve taken the step of becoming sellers on Amazon

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1NTP Goes Amazon

No, that’s nothing to do with hairstyle in our nether regions. We’ve taken the step of becoming sellers on Amazon.

The decision was not taken lightly - we never spend money unless we have to. As I’ve often stated, I can’t recall a single instance where we’ve sold via Amazon, so I don’t think we’ll be talking big business here. They also charge a fee for every sale, so if you, or your friends or your local theatre company want to buy scripts, please encourage them to do it directly through us and not give money away to Amazon.

We are in the stages of uploading the entire catalogue to Amazon. The reason for working with Amazon is perhaps slightly less obvious than simply for face-on sales. As you will see from elsewhere in this newsletter, I have been using Google alerts to highlight when people are looking for NTP or for my own plays. Twice today I found that someone had been looking at an Amazon site. There they would have found the play title (all your plays are on Amazon’s lists already) but they would also have found it “unavailable” or “temporarily out of stock”.

My worry is that the person looking for the play would think they cannot get it, and would pick another play from another publisher. I called Amazon to see if we could get a link directly to NTP when anyone makes such an enquiry, but they don’t do that as such. This seller account is the result. When we’re up and running and someone looks for a title they will find it says they are “available used and new from another source” - in this case NTP - and will hopefully result in sales that way. Because of the fees and the discounts Amazon demand, we are not, sadly, going to make any money from book sales per se, but, as usual, it is the performance licences we are seeking - to see your plays being performed in theatres..

Obviously we will keep a close watch on any resulting sales to see if the expense is worth the outlay. When I spoke to Amazon yesterday they told me that - even if someone had placed an order through them - they would never have bought directly from us anyway, but would have gone through a book wholesaler (e.g. Gardners, Bertrams, etc.) so it’s just possible someone has ordered some books through them, despite my previous assumptions that it had never happened.

We should be fully uploaded within a week, so watch this space.

Member news item - James McDonald

James informs us that “A collection of my plays, entitled Russia, Freaks and Foreigners, is being published by Intellect Books, price £15.00. It’s in Amazon’s catalogue as well, if you’re interested.” Congratulations James.

Member news item - Dorothy Lambert

From Dorothy: “I am delighted to tell you that I have had a play selected as one of the six winners in the Pintsizedplays comp. to be performed in a pub in the Tenby Festival in September and later in a Scriptslam at Fishguard in October. As the plays are listed anonymously I had better not tell you the title. Naturallly, at great personal expense, I shall be attending both events. No wonder playwrights never get rich!” And congratulations Dorothy!

Review - WriteItNow, by Ravenshead Services

This software is aimed specifically at writers. The suppliers tell us:-

· Write and store complete novels

· Keep background details of characters, events, locations and ideas.
· Display charts of events and relationships
· Generate characters, names and ideas
· Registered users can generate characters and background notes using add-ons
· Record all manuscript submissions
· Sample story with tutorial.
· 100,000 word spelling checker
· Auto-scale charts
· 100 step undo and redo
· RTF output. Create a neatly formatted manuscript with two key-presses
· Save and load individual characters, chapters, events, notes and ideas.
· 200,000 word thesaurus
· Events summary screen
· Tree view of all characters, events, ideas, locations and notes
Price $49.95 (USD) for a download copy or $59.95 (USD) including post + packing for a CD.

See for more details.

This product was (potentially) sufficiently interesting for our work, so yours truly got hold of a copy and set to work evaluating that potential.

The interface (the window you see) is fairly straightforward and you need only common sense to begin writing. You enter the title and author of the piece of work and then click on the Chapters tab at the top of the screen. This is very much like any other straightforward word processor (e.g. Word, Works, WordPerfect) but without the vast array of word processing features you get with those (after all, they are many times more expensive and I guess, in many cases, the simplicity of a straightforward “typewriter” will be attractive to many of you). After all, the mainstream word processors are designed to do just that. WriteItNow has a raft of features none of those products has. If you still want to use your normal word processor you can easily paste them in.

Where WriteItNow really starts to be a powerful tool for an author is the ability to organise all those bit of information you probably have on little post-it notes or small text files on your computer.

Using different tabs at the top of the screen you are encouraged to make notes about your characters, their relationships with other characters, locations, events and ideas. Instead of holding these in lots of different files, WriteItNow holds them all together and provides the linking between the two.

The various sections (tabs), then, in fairly brief detail are:-

Overview tab

This allows you to enter the title and the author, plus the creation date, which is filled in automatically for you when you start. There is actually a button called “Generate Title”, which has a good guess based on the first few words, but in reality is probably not much use. If you can’t come up with your own titles (or at least a better one than a piece of software) , you’re in the wrong business!

Below this is an open area where you can add free text notes. In all these free-format areas you have the usual Bold, Italic, Underline and line spacing (which sets for the entire screen), and there’s a useful button for inserting international (accented) characters. Glaring omissions here are text justification buttons.

And edit menu at the top gives various features which are also available, in much the same way as Word, et al, using right click. These include the usual cut, copy and paste, find and replace, plus the ability to insert text from other parts of the book or from an external text file. There is no “import filter” for the common Word Processors, so copy and paste is your method there.

Also immediately available at the click of a mouse is a thesaurus, a spell checker, a word count (giving words in the current section and for the overall document) and a useful “readability” tool that indicates what level of, for want of a better word, literacy should be able to understand your book.

At any point in the text (and this is the same for all tabs, you can link to another part of the book, so, for example, you can link to a character profile. At the time of writing this review, I am not sure just how useful that is, but I’ll try to find out.

Chapters tab

This is where the body of your book is written. It’s organised as “chapters” and you can give each chapter its own title. There are buttons to go forward and backwards a chapter at a time, to the start or end, and to insert a new chapter. All chapters are listed in a summary window to the left and there is a tool in the options menu to sort your chapters, should you need to.

Below the heading information there is the seemingly limitless free text area to hold your text, again with the soon-to-be-familiar edit options.

Characters tab

In here you can list all your characters. Basic details at the top of the screen include Title (Mr, Mrs etc.), gender (male, female or neutral), first, middle and last names, plus a “usual name” in case this is different. In fact this is the name that your characters will be referred to in the various menus and links, so it’s a good idea to make sure they mean something to you. In addition you can add the date your character was born and they day he or she (or it!) died. Useful if one of your characters is a hermaphrodite earthworm or a tree! At the top right-hand corner you can allocate an icon from a long drop-down selection (though some look very similar to others).

The lower text window this time is split into three sub tabs, called Description, Relationships and Personality. The first is free text with the usual edit options, but the Relationships tab allows you to insert relationships with other characters in your story. When you add a new relationship it asks who the relationship is with, giving s drop-down list of the other characters, and what the relationship is. Drop down options include the expected husband, wife, so, daughter, aunt, etc. You can also add a start date and an end date if the relationship changes throughout the story. Although not ideal, it would be possible to have a woman, for example, who exists in both pre-marriage and post marriage names, using her wedding date as the relevant start and end, but WriteItNow would treat these as two totally separate character entries.

The Personality tab is quite useful in some ways. If you want to make any notes about the character’s personality, do it in the Description tab, because the Personality tab contains a set of adjustable “bar graph sliders” with headings: health, wealth, happiness, friendliness, generosity, aggression, extroversion and caring. The sliders can be adjusted to suit your character and is a useful reference point when you need to check on how your character would react to a certain set of circumstances.

Events tab

This tab has a start date and end date, plus a title. So it could cover, for example, a period of sickness, employment or a holiday - the possibilities are endless. In the popup menu, you can refine the entry down to the time and you can say which of your characters are involved in the event. Once again there’s the free text area to add notes. All events are listed in the left hand summary window.

Locations tab

A lot simpler, this one. You can give each location a title and a free text description. You could use them for anything, from places to rooms in your extended “set”.

All locations are listed in the left hand summary window.

Ideas tab

It’s always useful to have a jotter to hand to note ideas in, and that, in simple terms, is what this tab is. Once again it’s simple, with just a title and free text window. It does provide an extra option on the drop-down menu to generate an idea. Maybe you’ll find that useful - personally, I didn’t and can’t think of any way I would use it.

Notes tab

The notes section is very similar to the ideas section at first glance. When you purchase the full version, however, you have an option to create a note from Add-On. This gives a drop down list, and in the version I tried I was given a choice of “Tudor Britain” or “Ancient Egyption Gods”. When you select one of these, a further drop-down gives a host of facts around that topic, but unless a character in your play is likely to base a decision on “Everyone had to attend an Anglican service once a month. The service was referred to as the Prayer Service, or the Prayer Book Service, and sometimes as Common Prayer.” then I doubt you’ll get much use from it.

Charts tab

Now this could be really useful. Items entered on the Events tab are represented here in timeline format, which should enable you to see who did what to whom and when, and - perhaps more importantly in a play script - who knew what/whom and when. Click on an event and it will take you to the entry in the events tab. It’s a pity they didn’t take the extra step and make it so you could drag the timing of events using the timeline, because that would let you manager what overlaps what (or not) in terms of time.

Submissions tab

This is a useful log of who you have sent your manuscript to and when, plus any results and any payments involved.


Some help is provided for all areas of the programme, and there are sets of useful tips to give you ideas. In addition, the product comes with a sample book (Alice) so you can see how things can be done.

Finished script

The finished script can be output to a Rich Text Format (RTF) file, which can be read by most word processors, including ours.

The Use of WriteItNow for Stage Plays

The suppliers/designers of the software claim it’s for writing novels, and therefore it is geared that way, but this could be just the thing you’re looking for when you’re writing plays.

It won’t take away the job of actually writing the play in any way, but we have a few suggestions for making that easier. It won’t especially help with submissions, at least not to us.

What it could do for you is to make the whole writing experience more complete and better organised. I have no doubt that you will find your own uses for such software, should you decide to buy, but we have the following suggestions:-

1. On the Overview tab, you can enter the title and your name; below that, in the free text area, you can put the details we need for the cover and catalogue.

2. In the chapter pages, you can use the first for the cast details, production notes, etc., one additional “chapter” for each scene and one or more at the end for props, lighting and effects.

4. You can better plan your play by using the character profiles, events and locations.

5. You can use the timeline to validate the sequence of events - especially useful for a thriller.

6. You can use the ideas and notes tabs to make notes that won’t appear in the final play. I’d suggest that you put any ideas you have in that section and reserve the notes for a commentary on anything within the plot.

7. You can use the thesaurus, spell checker and word count in the usual way, though don’t expect them to be as comprehensive as Word.

Bear in mind here that if you just want to use your computer to write plays and/or novels, WriteItNow will do all you’ll need and you won’t have to spend a great deal more money on Word/Office.

Feedback from the Suppliers

Once I’d finished the review I sent a copy to the suppliers to see if I’d got it right. Below is their feedback to complete the picture..

Thank you for your review of WriteItNow. It seems to me to be a fair and balanced piece. I would add a few comments of explanation about the following points, which may or may not change your point of view:-

Justification of Text

It is intended that people type up their stories (or plays) without worrying too much about the formatting. When you have finished your story, you simply ‘Export as RTF’ and this will give you the option of adding a title page, page numbering, etc and will produce a standard manuscript of the type that most publishers require. The story will be exported to your word processor, where justification can be changed, before printing.

Generate an Idea

This function is a rather light-hearted attempt to kick start the writer’s imagination. Some of the titles that are randomly generated are based on variations of famous books. They could also be used to generate writing exercises.

Thesaurus/Spell Checker/Word Count

I believe that our thesaurus is at least as good as the one that comes with Word. It is based on the vast WordNet database.

I’m not sure about Word’s spell checker, so can’t comment on that. We don’t have a grammar checker - again something to do once you have Exported as RTF to a word processor.

Our word count is more flexible than Word’s. You can get the word count for the section you are working on, or that of the full document.

One Act Play Writing Competition

We are pleased to announce another idea which will come to fruit in a few weeks - we’re going to be running a play competition. The idea is twofold - one to generate a bit of excitement and two to attract new members. What we don’t want to do is compromise the general running of NTP, so this will be done outside the normal operations and with different readers.

Again the idea is embryonic at the moment, but the thoughts are:-

1. The competition will be for one act plays, previously unpublished. The running time will be between 20 and 40 minutes. The author must accept the terms and conditions (which will be issued nearer the time) including providing a warranty that the work is original and belongs to the author.

2. Members can submit up one play, without any fees being involved. If members wish to submit more than one play, there will be a £5 per play entry fee. If a member has a play in the normal reading system, we will, on request, enter one play per member into the competition free of any charges. (Let’s face it, if you do have a play in the system, what have you got to lose?)

3. Non-members can submit plays accompanied by a £5 entry fee per play.

4. The winning play will be accepted for publication by NTP under our normal contract conditions. There is no obligation on the part of the author to accept such an offer if he or she prefers not to.

5. There will be one additional prize - a copy of the software WriteItNow reviewed elsewhere in this newsletter. This is a full, working version and will belong to the winner for life.

6. NTP reserves the right to offer additional prizes and/or additional offers of publication if any entry is adjudged to be of exceptional quality for our market.

7. The decision of the judging panel (yet to be nominated) is absolutely final and there will be no obligation on NTP or the judges to give feedback to any authors regarding their entries.

8. A date will be declared prior to opening the competition as to when the winner will be announced.

Sir Alan Ayckbourn CBE - The Patron That Got Away

It may interest you to know that I approached Sir Alan to see if he would be prepared to become patron of The Playwrights’ Co-operative. As you can probably guess from the title above, he declined the request, but in a quite positive way. His response was:-

Dear Ian Hornby,

Please forgive this appallingly slow reply to your message of 24th September which Simon Murgatroyd forwarded on to me. It’s been a bit of a busy time recently.

The Playwrights’ Co-operative/NTP strike me as a jolly good idea. They are probably the coming thing given that more and more of what you might call ‘established’ publishers are going down the publish on demand route.

Thank you for asking me if I would like to be a sponsor or patron. It does, though, put me in a rather tricky position given that I have been served extremely well by my agent and all three publishers with whom I have been involved over the years - namely Chatto & Windus, Faber & Faber and, of course, Samuel French.

As it’s not possible for me to read all the plays, it might be a little invidious of me to endorse an organisation none of whose work it represents I have seen or read. Certainly after years as an Artistic Director which required me to read hundreds of scripts, one of the joys of standing down from that role which I will be doing at the end of this year means that I will be freed from that job.

On balance, I think it is best if I decline. After all, I’m not getting any younger! Hope you understand.

Very best wishes for the future,

Yours sincerely,

Alan Ayckbourn

Maybe I didn’t explain in my original email to him that we print (not publish) on demand, but I doubt it’s worth pursuing. I can understand his position, though of course it’s disappointing. The reasons for asking in the first place were not to get any financial sponsorship, nor to make demands on his time, but more to have a figurehead that is instantly recognisable in the theatre world and perhaps to give us all a bit more “cred”. (Having “Patron - Sir Alan Ayckbourne” on the front cover might have made people pick up the scripts a bit more readily.) To that end, I think it would be worth pursuing if anyone has any ideas of other people to approach in some way, and ideas of wording would be welcome. Our target doesn’t necessarily need to be a playwright (though that would be the ideal) but could be, for example, a respected actor or other writer. I know a couple of our members have contacts, for example, with Roy Hudd and Sir Derek Jacobi, so get your thinking caps on and your networking going.

A second article from David Wake.

A Wry Pause

A “wryly” is that little piece of advice to actors on how to say a line. So called, because wryly was the most common suggestion.

DAVID: (Wryly:) This is an example.

The received wisdom is that you shouldn’t have more than two on a page. Actually, you shouldn’t have any, unless it is absolutely necessary to convey the meaning. So (Sarcastically:), (To Anna:), (Off:) and (To phone:) are all needed, perhaps, because the context of dialogue might not be enough.

Wrylies, and stage directions, are ignored anyway. When I directed a famous play (all right, “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller), I retyped the entire text. This was a good idea for a number of reasons. It made sure I read every single word for a start. Everyone had bought the play, but in different editions, so when I said “can we go from page 245", not much happened from those not using the collected works, Vol 1. In my “official” version, I dropped all the wrylies.

Which brings us to (pause) the pause.

There are a lot of different types of nothing-happening-on-stage. I’ve just done an example sheet with 14 different ways of leaving a gap in the action. There’s (pause) of course, and the appalling, much loved by film scriptwriters, (beat). “Beat” starts with an explosive “B” and ends with a sharp “T”, anything but golden. Is there any other word that is more anti-onomatopoeic? At least “pause” sounds more gentle and refined.

Both are words hidden within the dialogue that aren’t spoken. I’ve never heard an actor accidentally say “pause”, even when doing a cold reading, but it does break the flow. A script without these extraneous words gives an actor confidence that “what they see is what they say”.

Perhaps we could use punctuation. There’s the ellipsis “…”, but this is also used when the speech trails off like, sort of… you know. You can’t really put the three dots on their own, because it’s against NTP script layout guidelines and it can also mess up your format due to word processors being stupid. There’s (…), perhaps even with a dot for every half-second.

FRANK-N-FURTER: …makes me quiver in antici (…………) pation.

But it’s a bit rubbish and looks fake. I’ve seen people using “-“, but a hyphen should be said at a dash. I know one director who uses the musical symbol for a rest.

MARCUS: To be, or not to be.

I spent ages looking for the right animal print for a pause (think about it).

Now, and this is coming from a writer that wrote in a play:-

Pause (three minutes).

…I think that they should all be removed. You earn your pauses, goes the saying in theatre, and it’s up to the actors to decide how to act.

A writers’ group forced me to change my three minute pause. What happens, they asked me, during that yawning gap. So it’s now a page of stage direction. Maybe that’s the key. Writing:-


…is just abrogating responsibility. What happens during that time? Is this like the three line gap in novels just after the couple look loving into each others’ eyes and just before they are having breakfast? Should every full line pause indicate that the actors should have sex on stage?

No, of course not (although you’d probably sell more tickets), so don’t give them the temptation

The presence of a wrylies, including (pause), (beat), (…) and so on, shows a lack of faith in your actors. Believe in your actors and they will believe in your text!

Reader Copies

In an effort to bring you some information that may be of use (or not), we kept details of the reader copies ordered over four days recently. We are looking at ways of collecting this data on a regular and less onerous way, but below are the stats.

The most popular plays ordered are as follows. Not that we sorted in numerical order, but then in alphabetical order, so if your play has only had one request and is way down the list, it’s all to do with alphabets, nothing more.

Man’s View - Webb (14)

Happy Acres - Connolly (1)

An Eye For An Eye, Darling - Hornby (3)

Heaven's Above - Raffle (1)

and then you die! - Moore (3)

Hello, Is There Any Body There? - Hornby (1)

Bridge - Smith (3)

Hen Party - Hedge (1)

Pain In The Neck - Beard (3)

Hint Of Old World Charm - Park (1)

Acting Young - Walker (2)

Hostage Close to Home - Blaxland (1)

All in a Day's Work - Nelson (2)

Images - Penny (1)

Amazing Dancing Bear - Hillman (2)

Jayne with a Y - Hornby (1)

Cage - Bell (2)

Judith Code - Wilson (1)

Cognitive Therapy - Bromage (2)

Late Of This Address - Hornby (1)

Drilling Of Rachel Withers - Lee (2)

Leading Lady - Zaphiropoulou (1)

Fairway to Heaven - Raffle (2)

Little Lil - Emery (1)

Goldilocks - Myhill (2)

Long Green Grass - Cade (1)

Goody Two Shoes - Ladbrook (2)

Love a la Carte - Horsburgh (1)

Millennium Dame - Beard (2)

Love Letters In Four Acts - Mitchell (1)

Party's Over - Parker (2)

Lunch Time - Bowskill (1)

Secrets - Charles (2)

Lust In The Dust - Bates (1)

Six Scenes From A War - Burke (2)

Mad Gary’s Fruit and Nut Case - Muncaster (1)

That`s My Girl - Bathurst (2)

Magic Clogs - Parker/Young (1)

6 Short Plays - Verrier (1)

Meeting With Mr Stone - Ellis (1)

Abanazar`s Revenge - Hornby (1)

Message - Bowskill (1)

Absent Thee From Felicity - Billing (1)

Mind Games - Hornby (1)

After the Dream - MacCaulay (1)

Murder Amongst Friends - Raffle (1)

Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves - Harper (1)

Murder At Doom Manor - Morgan/Moore (1)

Amazing Grace - Pope (1)

My Ex - Johnson (1)

Appearances - Jupe (1)

Next! - Beard (1)

Artful Lodger - Casling (1)

Offence - Raffle (1)

Awning Has Broken! - Perkins (1)

Ordinary Jack - Beattie (1)

Ay, Carmela! - London (1)

Painter and Portrait - Zaphiropoulou (1)

Babes in the Wood - Jones/Travers (1)

Posthumous Success - Kent (1)

Be Careful Who You Wish For - Hornby (1)

Question Of Innocence - Hornby (1)

Beginners` Guide To Murder - Hartwell (1)

Remember Me - Hornby (1)

Broadway To Hollywood & Back - Beard (1)

Robin Hoodlum - Beard (1)

Call Girls - Muncaster (1)

Robinson Crusoe - Jones/Travers (1)

Canary Cage - Raffle (1)

Room 14 - Dolman (1)

Canterville Ghost - Pitt (1)

Shades of Blue - Hornby (1)

Carrie Pringle - Billing (1)

Situation Vacant - Hornby (1)

Cat Among The Pigeons - Homer (1)

Some Enchanted Evening - Parkes (1)

Christmas Carol - Mitchell (1)

Speaking Ill of the Dead - Blaxland (1)

Cold Blood - Hornby (1)

Stag Night - Edwards (1)

Cupboard - Graves (1)

Sweeney Todd - Hills (1)

Dangerous Knowledge - Charles (1)

Take My Husbands Please! - Harper (1)

Day They Lost Santa Claus - Baldwin (1)

Tied Up at the Office - Hornby (1)

Death of a Clown - Beard (1)

To Sleep, Perchance - Hornby (1)

Dial 01673 For Murder - Anthony (1)

Toll The Bell - Rowe (1)

Dick Whittington - Jones/Travers (1)

TRACKS - Graves (1)

Dish of the Day - Woodhead (1)

Tried and Trusted Methods - Goddard (1)

Displaced Persons - Hodges (1)

Victim - West (1)

Dracula for Beginners - Nicol (1)

Wait Until The Ghost Is Clear - Hornby (1)

Dramatic Licence - Beattie (1)

What`s It All About? - Ladbrook (1)

Dying For Dinner - Beard (1)

When I Need You - Kelly/Cooke (1)

Five Further Short Monologues - Lovatt (1)

When The Lights Go Out - Chapman (1)

French Toast - Raffle (1)

Widower's Way - Harper (1)

Give Me the Money! - Harvey (1)

Woman in White - Morrison (1)

Gypsy's Warning - Sharpless (1)

Derek Webb’s “Man’s View” fared particularly well, reinforcing the message about marketing - Derek has been doing his own marketing campaign for that play. Well done, Derek.

Now, the most popular authors in terms of the number copies of that author’s plays requested. Successes here don’t just reflect on a single play but partly on the author pushing himself (or herself). Once again tying authors are in alphabetical order.

Hornby (17)

Graves (2)

Ellis (1)

Morrison (1)

Webb (14)

Hillman (2)

Emery (1)

Nelson (1)

Beard (10)

Lee (2)

Goddard (1)

Nicol (1)

Raffle (7)

Mitchell (2)

Hartwell (1)

Park (1)

Charles (3)

Muncaster (2)

Harvey (1)

Parker/Young (1)

Harper (3)

Myhill (2)

Hedge (1)

Parkes (1)

Jones/Travers (3)

Parker (2)

Hills (1)

Penny (1)

Ladbrook (3)

Walker (2)

Hodges (1)

Perkins (1)

Moore (3)

Zaphiropoulou (2)

Homer (1)

Pitt (1)

Smith (3)

Anthony (1)

Horsburgh (1)

Pope (1)

Bathurst (2)

Baldwin (1)

Johnson (1)

Rowe (1)

Beattie (2)

Bates (1)

Jupe (1)

Sharpless (1)

Bell (2)

Cade (1)

Kelly/Cooke (1)

Verrier (1)

Billing (2)

Casling (1)

Kent (1)

West (1)

Blaxland (2)

Chapman (1)

London (1)

Wilson (1)

Bowskill (2)

Connolly (1)

Lovatt (1)

Woodhead (1)

Bromage (2)

Dolman (1)

MacCaulay (1)

Burke (2)

Edwards (1)

Morgan/Moore (1)

Amateur versus professional theatre.

I have no doubt that you, like me, would love to see one of your plays in the West End, on Broadway or any of a vast number of professional theatres around the world. There’s nothing wrong with that aspiration, but it becomes too easy to forget about amateur theatre.

Thanks to a bit of research on the Internet, the following facts may be of interest to you all:-

  • The total annual turnover of NODA-affiliated amateur theatre groups is £34 million.

  • The total number of performances given per year is 25,760.

  • The total number of people attending performances per year is 7,315,840.

  • The total number of people actively involved is 437,800. 29% of these are under 21.

Staggering, yes? And those figures (courtesy are just for NODA affiliated amateur groups in the UK. The article goes on to state, “Further, in England alone a sample investigation of activities in five English cities and districts revealed that only 19% of amateur drama groups active there were affiliated to a national "umbrella" organisation suggesting that the figures above could be underestimating the impact of amateur theatre.”

Doing some very imprecise calculations, and using the NODA figures as a basis, you can multiply all the above by five. And remember that NODA is not the only “umbrella” organisation, so the real figures are likely to be higher still. But using the approximation for now, that means:-

  • The total annual turnover of amateur theatre groups is £162 million.

  • The total number of performances given per year is 122,800.

  • The total number of people attending performances per year is 36,579,200.

  • The total number of people actively involved is 2,189,000.

Just by way of assessing the figures, the number of people estimated to attend performances per year is more than the total number of people who play golf in the USA. That’s almost three times the number of people attending all premier league football matches in a season! Rubbish. Check it out - all the figures are officially recorded and available on the internet.

So dare we ignore it?

And don’t forget, that’s just Britain. There’s a whole world out there to swell the figures. I was told some time ago (though I cannot substantiate this claim) that there are over 750 amateur theatre companies in the San Francisco area alone!

All there, markets for YOUR play.

The New Venture – Very Short Plays

After due digestion of feedback from members, we have decided to go ahead with the “very short plays” project. This will be a trial to begin with, and we may decide to drop it later, but the basis of the scheme is as follows:-

  1. Members will be able to submit plays to the scheme for consideration. Because of the low overheads involved, we should be able to take a chance on works that we might not normally consider for publication, but they will still be assessed by one of our readers (rather than the usual three).

  2. No contracts will be offered as such; the scheme will work on a “gentlemen’s agreement” basis (ladies too!), but by submitting a play to the scheme you will be asked to assure us that the work is your own and the rights are yours to warrant to us. (This is a measure of legal protection for New Theatre Publications should someone submit a play that is bound in any way to another publisher or other party.)

  3. The scripts must be submitted in Microsoft Word format (or another format we can easily read) by disk or email. We will not accept paper submissions unless by prior agreement, and reserve the right to make a charge for converting any paper submissions to electronic format.

  4. We will not usually supply paper copies of any scripts to interested performers – anyone who needs paper scripts will have to pay for them on a cost-per-sheet basis. Scripts will be supplied free of charge to anyone requesting them (in pdf format via email). We accept that allowing companies to copy scripts freely is a risk, but we are surely looking for performances rather than selling scripts, and in any case the risk is no greater than taking a script from a library (or any other paper source) and photocopying it.

  5. We will charge a licence fee based on the length of the play. Rather than try and charge per sheet or per word, we’ve decided to break the plays into three categories, and for this we’ll need an estimate of your playing time. The three price bands will be £5, £10 and £15 per performance, fitting nicely under our £20 for a one act play and £35 for a full length play.

  6. The terms as far as the author is concerned will be much the same as “normal” – obviously you get no income from the “scripts” themselves, but you will receive the same 70% royalties on any and all performances.

  7. We are making changes to the NTP website to make searching more obvious, so we have incorporated the “Short Plays” idea into those changes. I have already uploaded two of mine, “Beasts” and “Creation” if you want to see how the system works. Short plays are entered (by us) into the catalogue in the usual way and will appear automatically on your profile page (if you have one).

  8. Short plays will not be included in the paper catalogue.

  9. Since we are not producing books as such, they short plays will not be issued with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and will not be submitted to the British Library’s Legal Deposit System, saving considerable expense, because there is no obligation on us to do so. Not having an ISBN does mean, however, that the plays will not get included in the various “Bookdata” bibliographies so will not appear in the catalogues of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

  10. We will, as usual, offer large print versions of the pdf scripts on request for people with sight difficulties.

  11. The speed of feedback/inclusion will depend on how many submissions we get, but we ask for your patience if it takes a while.

So now it’s over to you, the members. The system is up and running and is a place for your shorts. Ernie Wise would have been proud of us.

Writing Opportunities

One Act Playwriting Competition

Drama Association of Wales’ One Act Playwriting Competition 2009. The competition aims to encourage the writing of plays for amateur theatre in English and Welsh. In addition to cash awards, prize-winning plays will be considered for publication. Previous prizewinners have been published and performed as a result of promotion through our New Writing Scheme. Csh prizes. For application forms, please contact Teresa at the Drama Association of Wales (DAW) on Cardiff +44 (0) 29 2045 2200 or email Teresa at:

BBC has a dedicated webpage outlining the writing requirements of its BBC radio 4. Included on the page are commissioning briefs for Radio 4 drama and entertainment. Requirements are currently listed for the Woman's Hour, comedy narrative, the afternoon play, comedy, the Friday play, entertainment, the Saturday play and new dramatic and poetic genres that will bring sharp wit and intelligence to the network, according to the beeb.

The King’s Cross Award for New Writing 2009


Some Recent Productions

Feeding The Ducks (Mike Park) - Elgin

The Worst Day of My Life (Alan Richardson) - Criccieth, North Wales

Swingers (Paul Beard) - Lincoln

Situation Vacant (Ian Hornby) - Terry O'Toole Theatre, Lincoln

Man's View (Derek Webb) - Swansea

The Worst Day of My Life (Alan Richardson) - Caldicot, Mon

Are You Sure There's No Body There…? (Ian Hornby) - Darwen Library Theatre

A Dish Served Cold (Ian Hornby) - Great Bookham, Surrey

Hello, Is There Any Body There? (Ian Hornby) - Erdington, Birmingham

Heaven's Above (Diana Raffle) - Boughton Monchelsea, Kent

Victim (Don West) - Ipswich

The Magic Clogs (Pat Young) - Chester

Inaccurate Conception (Geoff Saunders) - The Mount School, Mill Hill

Dial 01673 for Murder (John Anthony) - Lincoln

Bottoms Up (Lee Emsley) - Balsall Common

The Worst Day of My Life (Alan Richardson) - Edinburgh

Dying For Dinner (Paul Beard) - Sheffield

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