Dear Listener ...

Dear listener ...

I wonder if you are interested in the UK International Radio Drama Festival this year. We hope you'll consider joining us.

We had intended to meet in Canterbury, but the coronavirus put paid to that, so we're online, and the dates are 21-25 March. 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 seventh 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. Last year we had 48 dramas in 15 different languages, including plays from Rumania, Russia, Lithuania, Spain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, France, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iceland.

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)


For the online festival we asked for entries three months ago, and over a hundred were sent in. We have the recordings in various languages along with English translations of the scripts. We're currently sorting through and selecting the 50 which will form the best basis for the festival. They will be broadcast on successive afternoons, in real time, because part of the experience is to be able to listen collectively.

There's still the time zone problem which is why we're using the afternoons; no point in doing it when part of the audience is asleep. There will be a jury, and in the evenings (UK time) the members will meet to discuss the plays heard that afternoon. On the Friday afternoon, the jury will meet (online) and decisions will be made on which plays are worthy of the awards. There are three prizes: one for long plays, one for short plays, and there's the audience award. The jury decides the winners of the long and the short; the audience award 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 an introduction to 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 will soon be able to register an interest.

We will send people a zoom link shortly before the event. The start time will be announced soon.

The UK International Radio Drama Festival team, 26 Feb 2022


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