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 we are again both face-to-face and online, listening together. There will be communication between the two. 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. Online jury members and others will be able to participate by computer link.
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.
This is the ninth 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 last 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. You follow it on a Kindle. Once you get synchronised there isn't a language barrier. I remember last year one of my favourite plays was from Iran; it was in Persian!" (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 in your 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 27-31 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, where people choose the eight radio dramas they would best like to take with them when locked down on 'Covid Island'. Well worth a listen.
If you are interested in joining us, please keep your eyes on the two sites above.
Admission is free; you can register an interest using the eventbrite link for access, either online or face-to-face,
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, 24 Jan 2023