Radio Writer-Zoom: A Young Playwrights Project

The latest project in the Young Playwrights series took place online over two weeks in August, with a cohort of young writers from England and Northern Ireland, attempting one of their most ambitious ventures yet: to create a full radio play series in under two weeks, with each playwright tackling an episode each.  

Our Young Playwrights co-ordinator and mentor, Emily DeDakis, talked about this one-of-a-kind experience with the Young Playwrights.  Writing for radio was not new for the Young Playwrights writers, but Emily points out that using the genre was the most effective way to connect young people from different places:  

“It was for practical reasons, but it also was because we had been working closely with Papatango Theatre Company, who have just started a Young Playwrights Prize. They wanted to offer this as an opportunity for Prize winners and runners up, and we loved the idea of having a radio project together. It’s a fantastic form of storytelling”.  

Papatango collaborated with Fighting Words on this project, bringing together young people from England and Northern Ireland. Emily said:  

“It was great, and so exciting to see them gelling together.  

They did a really amazing job writing together, and each of them independently wrote an episode. They started by creating really interesting, complex characters of their own, and from these characters began to construct a story.  

They each developed one of the main characters – so there were seven main characters and seven episodes – all adding up to one full series.” 

Emily explains why Young Playwrights is such an important experience for everyone involved, playwrights and mentors alike.   

“We want it to be memorable for everyone, we want them to make good connections, to get to know each other, and to find a tribe of writers they can stick with. That’s important to all of us who mentor the project as well.”  

Young Playwrights gives young writers an opportunity to create, explore, and work as a team to bring their project together – Emily sees the value of this experience for young people:  

“I think they learned how to collaborate, as writers, and also, how to ask questions. They learned to be okay with saying ‘I’m not sure’.” 

The Young Playwrights had the rare opportunity to practice pitching their radio show, THE CHORDS THAT BIND, to industry professionals. Emily explains:  

“We tried to give them a sense of working in a writer’s room and show them what that process looked like. We had a couple of producers come in and I was really excited to give the young people a chance to pitch.”  

The pitch proved to be a stand-out experience, both for the writers and the visiting producers.  “We got to the end and each of them had talked about their characters and episode, and the producers said, ‘this is brilliant’, they were genuinely impressed.” 

Most importantly, Emily values the connections that are forged during Young Playwrights, and the confidence it can give young people to express themselves: “I think they felt welcomed into the community of writers”.  

One of the aims of all Fighting Words NI projects is to create a community of writers and creators – where young people feel freedom to express themselves through writing and can connect with others; Young Playwrights is no different.  

Keep an eye out for the live recording and script of THE CHORDS THAT BIND on our website and YouTube, hear about further projects by the Young Playwrights on our social media, and check out Playwright Club, where young scriptwriters meet monthly to share their ideas and work on their projects!