Called “The Play’s the Thing,” the series has been commissioned by Channel Four’s Jan Younghusband, who also gave the greenlight to other screen-to stage talent shows “Operatunity” (which sought a new opera singer) and “Musicality” (which put a new musicals "star" into Chicago).
According to a press release, the four-part show will also seek to open up the world of commercial theatre for viewers. The first three episodes will be broadcast in spring 2006 and will follow the writers as they discover how difficult it is to get a new play produced in the West End. Their ideas will be developed with the assistance of a brace of theatre professionals, and the chosen one will be staged. The run-up to the world premiere will be the subject of the fourth episode, which will coincide will the play’s opening night.
West End producer Sonia Friedman will join a panel of experts, including a literary agent and a theatre director, and it is she who will produce the winning play. Before that, the panel will draw up a shortlist of three entries, which will go forward for further development.
“Coming from a subsidised, new-writing background but now working exclusively in the commercial sector,” said Friedman in the release, “I find it frustrating that so few new plays premiere in the West End. The reason why is obvious: the financial risks are too high and the pressure to succeed is too intense. Therefore I am excited by the prospect of hunting for that elusive new play from that first-time playwright, and then producing it to the highest standards and seeing if it is possible for the play to go on to enjoy critical and financial success.”
New writers who are interested in entering have been invited to submit a synopsis, dialogue examples and descriptions of all characters. For more information about how to enter, visit www.channel4.com/theplay.