Dear listener ...
I wonder if you are interested in the UK International Radio Drama Festival this year. We hope you'll consider joining us.
This year, for the first time, we are both face-to-face and online. A lucky group of individuals will assemble in Canterbury and listen to the plays together, meeting in the evening to talk about what they've heard.
Last year's online festival (due to Covid) had many positive aspects to it; we welcomed people from all over the world, from as far apart as Georgia, Australia, Berlin, Rumania, Estonia, London ..... and the wonders of technology meant we could all see each other and speak to each other, on screen.
So this year we will have two audiences: in-person and online, and there will be communication between the two.
Podcasts have proliferated recently, including on the BBC, so we've expanded to include them and now we're the UK International Audio Drama & Radio Festival.
Audio drama seems to be on the up at the moment. The coronavirus messed up the recording of radio plays for a while but now producers are getting used to remote working and it's getting difficult to tell whether a play has been by the production team in their own homes or in a studio.
If you've read this far you're probably vaguely interested in hearing what we do, or not quite bored enough to stop reading, which is a good sign.
This is the eighth festival. It's a bringing together of radio (and audio) dramatists and producers from around the world.
Other countries don't make radio dramas like those we get in the UK; worldwide there's a vast range: audio collage, fantastic and surreal soundscapes, ancient epics, myths, legends, poetic tableaux, history. Radio dramas often tell stories, but they also give insights into how people in a country see the world, and each other, at the time they are written.
There are English and American-style entries too but they do not dominate; this is a truly International festival. We had 71 submissions this year, including works from the Czech Republic, Belgium, Iran, France, Poland, Sweden, Rumania, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Georgia, the UK, and elsewhere.
What people have said:
"You might expect that hearing a play in a foreign language presents a problem... however it doesn't, because English scripts are provided. Once you get synchronised there isn't a language barrier. At the end of Tuesday afternoon it was wonderful to hear everyone laughing at David Mairowitz's comic play 'Mono', in spite of it being in German!" (Nigel)
"A really enjoyable week, listening to audio drama from around the world. I enjoyed listening to and learning about formats very different to those used in the UK. Hearing people's reactions to the pieces was fascinating, as was finding out the background as to why they were in the format they were." (Alison)
"I had a wonderful day on the Monday listening to the range of different plays and being exposed to a new style of form and content." (Michael)
"It was for me a pleasure to participate for the second time to me to yours festival. I left it with many new and inspiring ideas for my work." (Oana)
"Thank you again so much for having us in your beautiful festival with an amazing laid-back atmosphere in nice places in Canterbury." (Ulrike & Andy)
WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE LANGUAGES?
We have sorted through the entries and they will be broadcast throughout the five days of the festival; part of the experience is to listen collectively. In the case of work from a distant time zone, we will attempt to schedule it at a time when its writers can hear it.
There will be a jury, and in the evenings (UK time) the members will meet to discuss the plays heard that day. On the Friday afternoon, the jury will meet (online) and decisions will be made on which plays are worthy of the awards. There are four prizes: one for long plays, one for short plays, a new award for the best work by a young producer, and there's the audience award. The jury decides the winners of the awards, apart from the audience award, which is decided later by people voting online.
We are in the process of arranging some extra events with external speakers involved in or knowledgeable about radio drama.
There are some online resources for festival news, and if you click around on these sites you'll find write-ups of what we've done recently and in previous years.
(1)The UK International Audio Drama Festival website: this is where all of the official stuff will go - you will have to register for tickets (free, but you sign up), dates, schedules, ticket links, links to listen-again, details of other festival events 21-25 Mar, and other things of interest done by the festival team.
(2)The Diversity website ("suttonelms") , where other information about the festival will be posted, including titles of the plays, where they come from, and where possible, some notes about each one.
There are also the 'Covid Island Dramas', using a format similar to Desert Island Discs, and the Speak Softly Shop - a collection of new dramas put online last year during lockdown.
If you are interested in joining us, please keep your eyes on the two sites above.
You can register an interest by clicking on:
We will send people a listening link, after they register, shortly before the event. The start time will be announced soon.
The UK International Radio Drama Festival team, 12 Mar 2022