Cartoon by Max India

Guidelines for Writers

Work submitted by writers is read anonymously and appraised by three separate readers.  All submissions are considered as ‘work in progress‘, however polished. Acceptance is based on our readers’ opinions of a play’s potential for further development and improvement. 

Our readers use a points system to ensure an unbiased decision.   (Click here to download a copy of the script appraisal form that our readers will use to assess scripts).  At least two of the three readers must indicate positive affirmation for a play to be performed as a rehearsed reading.

AWL is committed to providing exposure for new work through rehearsed readings carried out by our actors under the direction of our directors.  This enables our writers to benefit from hearing their work in a performance environment.  Readings are subject to a critique from all of those present at the meeting.

Despite the limited rehearsal period available, our rehearsed readings also offer the additional benefit of providing our actors and directors with opportunities to develop and enhance their skills.

Arrangements for rehearsed readings are made as far in advance as possible, bearing in mind the availability of our actors and directors.

Submission, Acceptance and Assignment of Director

Work submitted to be read must be the writer’s own original work.
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Scripts to be read during a rehearsed reading should have a playing time of one hour and forty minutes, preferably allowing for an interval on the evening of performance.

The writer should provide three bound copies of the script for appraisal to our Script Co-ordinator.  To ensure a fair selection process the writer’s details should not appear on the script at this stage.

Scripts should be clearly typed in the appropriate format (click here for BBC guidelines).   A cast list with character descriptions should be included.  Scripts should be typed with a font size of 14pt.  Bear in mind that any script of more than 70 pages of 14pt type is likely to be cut.  

Subject to acceptance, a performance date will be allotted.  The writer will be informed in writing, and your choice of director can be discussed with and appointed by our Directors Co-Ordinator

Click here to view the list of our directors

The director should consult with the writer as soon as possible to discuss the play, its content, and the writer’s intentions.  The director should raise any practical and dramaturgical issues at the earliest opportunity.   In the event of any difference of opinion, the director and writer should seek to agree a mutually acceptable approach, bearing in mind their respective professional experience.  Where no agreement can be reached, it is expected that both will inform the Directors Co-ordinator immediately to allow an alternative director to be appointed.  Cartoon by Max India

Casting and Reheasal Arrangements

The writer may have suggestions as to the casting of specific characters.  The writer may even have written a part with a particular actor in mind.  This will be considered with regard to actors’ availability, recent AWL castings and attendance at meetings when not cast.  The process of making casting decisions is a matter for the director and Casting Co-ordinators only.
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Writers must not discuss casting possibilities with actors at any stage of the submission, appraisal or casting process.  Final casting and all the subsequent arrangements are the exclusive responsibility of the director, with the assistance of the Casting Co-ordinators.

Once casting has been agreed and confirmed it is the writer’s responsibility to produce and distribute the correct number of scripts for the cast, director and, where applicable, the aspiring director.  If possible, this process should be carried out at least four weeks before the reading is to take place.

Rehearsals are normally called for the day prior to the performance. The writer pays the cost of the hire of the rehearsal room.  Rehearsal venues will be suggested, and extended rehearsal periods are viewed by AWL as private arrangements. 

Once the rehearsal arrangements have been confirmed, the administration of the rehearsal and performance of the reading become the sole responsibility of the director.

The writer is expected to provide a buffet lunch for the cast, director and any aspiring director during the rehearsal.  Should the writer fail to do so, it will be the writer’s responsibility to reimburse all concerned for the cost of a shop-bought sandwich lunch on the production of a receipt.  This expectation applies wherever the rehearsal takes place.

The writer’s role at the rehearsal is to observe and, where necessary, advise the director.  The writer should maintain a discreet profile, allowing the director and the actors to carry out their work, thereby giving the writer an objective view of the play. 

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If the writer cannot be present at a rehearsal or performance, the cast and director will continue with the rehearsal and performance.

Discussion Etiquette

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After the rehearsed reading, the members of the audience are invited express their views of the play in a chaired discussion.  This feedback is intended to inform writers as to how the play came across in performance and to provide the writer with suggestions as to how the script is to be developed. 

The writer should say as little as possible during such discussions, in order to gain the full benefit of the objective views of the audience. 

Writers are particularly encouraged to faimilarise themselves with the AWL guidelines for discussion chairs, so that they may assist the discussion chair in carrying out this exacting role. 

Competition Nights

Competition nights are different in format: a number of short plays or sketches are read in one evening.  The duration and theme of these are set out by the committee some weeks before.

If you wish to enter a short play or sketch for a competition you should provide the same number of copies of the script as there are characters to the Script Co-ordinator. These will be used in the selection process.  It is important that all writers are present when their plays are performed.  Please do not submit a competition script unless you intend to be there.  If you subsequently find that you will be unable to attend on Competition Night, please let the script co-ordinator know immediately so that arrangements can be made to select an alternative entry. 

Casting for competition sketches is carried out by the Casting Co-ordinator in the weeks before the competition. As always, the writer is expected to leave the casting to the Casting Co-ordinator and not approach actors directly.

Competition entries are usually directed by the cast members or the writer. Rehearsals normally take place in the Bar on the 4th Floor of the Polish Centre, which will only be available between 6.15pm and 7.15pm on the evening of the competition.

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Showcase Nights

Showcase nights have yet another format.  The programmes consist of monologues and speeches lasting (typically) no more than five minutes each.  These performances:

  • provide an opportunity for actors new to AWL to show their acting abilities to the membership, and in particular to AWL directors and Casting Co-ordinators;
  • give AWL writers additional opportunities to have monologues and short speeches heard for the first time.
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Two bound copies of scripts of monologues or speeches for individual actors to read during showcase nights may be submitted to the Showcase Co-ordinator at any time throughout the year.

Actors have complete discretion in the matter of whether to perform any script.  There is no guarantee that showcase scripts willl ever be performed. 

If an actor requests your assistance with their showcase reading of your script, you are warmly encouraged to offer whatever help you are able to give.

The actors make their own rehearsal arrangments for showcase readings. 

Recordings: Sound and Visual

Non-Commercial Usage

Writers may courteously request permission from the director and actors to make audio or video recordings of the reading of their work, on the basis that such recordings are to be used exclusively to help with the further development of their script, and for no other reason.  Such recordings cannot be used for any commercial use without the prior written permission of all cast members and the director.

In general, AWL actors are usually amenable to this kind of recording and may
even request copies for their own self-review or records.  All AWL actors automatically give their consent to this kind of recording when they accept a casting.

Commercial Usage

Should the writer wish to exploit a recording commercially, It must not be assumed that AWL actors or directors will accept a commercial proposition. 

Actors and directors have the right to prevent the sale of a recording of any kind.  Each actor and the director must be approached individually to agree an accredited commercial contract.