Hampstead Theatre Festival: Page To Stage – How to do a Radio Play

‘How to do a Radio Play’.  Not something I have ever thought about or even aspired to but I’m always interested in writing; how people write; what they write and what motivates them to write. And that my friends the is the joy of literary festival, or the author event.  Mere mortals such as myself are given the opportunity to listen to ‘real life writers’ describe their craft, with the hope that even a smidgen of their talent and wisdom might magically rub off…..

Page to Stage was held at the lovely Hampstead Theatre at the end of March and featured a variety of events all offering the audience the opportunity to understand a little more of how an idea on paper arrives on the stage via a range of mediums.

The event I attended was chaired by the author and broadcaster Penny Smith.  She talked with the author Kate Mosse, the producer Clive Brill and the playwright Shelagh Stevenson.  There was lots of interesting discussion about what makes a great radio play.  Not surprisingly writing a radio play is not an easy thing to do.  However should you be thinking about it, these are the tips I gleaned.

  • Listen to radio plays (lots) and understand what works / doesn’t work
  • Think about what you want your listener to be feeling at the end of the play
  • Look at the Radio 4 Commisioning Guidelines
  • Write to radio producers and ask them how they would like your script sent to them (email etc)
  • Slots for radio plays are usually 45 mins and one page of script is about a minute
  • Write your play and send it in – simples!

Although I listen to the radio regularly  I don’t hear many radio plays.  I often find that I hear a bit of an episode or part of a play and never follow it through.  Having attended this event I may  make more of an effort to be more attentive to this medium.

Hampstead Theatre do some great flower arrangements too!


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