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" " front cover of Sarah daniels Plays 1 - Methuen


Writing for Radio

with Sarah Daniels and Sally Avens

This workshop took place on Saturday 26 - Sunday 27 November 2005

in the Playroom Studio, Lancaster University


Please click here for examples of participants' writing and audio clips from the workshop

About Sarah and Sally




Sarah Daniels' many stage plays include: DUST (National Theatre Connections series, 2003), MORNING GLORY (Watford Theatre and tour, 2001), HEAD-ROT HOLIDAY (Clean Break Theatre Co, London, 1993), BESIDE HERSELF (Women's Playhouse Trust/Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, 1990), THE GUT GIRLS (The Albany Empire, London, 1988), and NEAPTIDE (Royal National Theatre, Cottesloe, 1986). She was the second woman to have a play on at the National Theatre and her Play Masterpeices was selected in 1999 as one of the plays of the century. She has been writer in residence at the Royal Court Theatre and the Albany Empire. She has also written extensively for television and radio including, The Long Wait - Friday play commission for 60th anniversary of D-Day and Cross My heart and Hope to Fly, winner of the 2003 Sony Bronze.


Sally Avens has been working as a director and producer in Radio Drama since 1990. She has also worked in television on both EastEnders and Holby. Currently she is executive Producer for the Friday Play and also for Comedy Drama on Radio 4. She has made several award winning plays including 'Cross My Heart and Hope To Fly' by Sarah Daniels.

About the Workshop






There is a approximately 800 hours of new drama on the radio each year. By definition there are more opportunities for writers to get their work on here than the stage or on TV of film. It is where many dramatists start their careers build their career or return to radio when the other mediums let them down. Although the poor relation in terms of resources and pay compared to stage TV and film, it allows for more scope of imagination. With sound you can go anywhere, be anywhere and create epics as well as the most intimate of internal monologues.

This workshop looked at:

Writing specifically for radio.

Writing dialogue - using dialogue to tell the story not as conversation.

Creating characters.

Building a story.

Feedback from Participants






"This was a very supportive and well organized playwriting workshop. Before the workshop, I wasn't aware how many opportunities there were in radio. I felt privileged to have both the writer and producer guiding the workshop because they had different vantage points. Daniels' advice was empowering on how to get over the inner censor and one's fear of the blank page. Avens' had many editing tips, such as how to start the scene late and avoid over writing. Discussing the plays we listened to was useful, especially about the research and draft writing process. I also found it helpful to go over the practical details such as examples of radio play mistakes, writing hooks, and how to submit a radio play. I felt that there was a great group of women assembled, which made it a very collaborative, creative experience."


" I found the workshop creatively stimulating and extremely enjoyable. I think the fact we were a small group was really important. It made the experience intense and intimate, but I feel gave us all confidence to experiment...Sally and Sarah were both excellent. Their tone was absolutely spot on. They gave useful information, were unpretentious and yet very professional. The practical work we did began almost immediately and their friendly insistence that we read all our contributions out from the outset meant there was little time for prevarication. The workshop was well structured and developed in a coherent way. We were taken through the initial aspects of radio writing, through to common pitfalls, emotional character development, structuring dialogue and finally writing and presenting the opening minutes of a scene.

By the end of the weekend I think we all felt really empowered and eager to begin writing for the medium of radio. The combination of the critical analysis of our writing, together with insights into the requirements when writing for radio were invaluable."


"Sarah and Sally worked brilliantly together as a team. Because they questioned each other's views and were very open, honest and unpretentious, the group were able to approach writing in the same way, and experiment without fear. Sarah inviting us to comment on her plays meant that we felt in the position of equals – it wasn't a case of ‘experts' critiquing what the workshop participants produced.

The environment felt a very safe one – it was great being given permission to be ‘crap' at the start and get it out of the way. The number of participants felt just right – enough of us to approach the work from a mix of backgrounds and perspectives, and few enough so that feedback/discussion didn't take forever. I found the rest of the group really supportive and loved some of the work people read out.

The exercises were very well planned – we were taken through a series of tasks with built in progression, and a comfortable balance between being given information, discussing Sarah and Sally's work, and creating our own, either as individuals, in pairs or in the whole group.

The printouts on Writing for the BBC are useful. By the end of the workshop I began to feel one day I might try writing a play for submission. I certainly wouldn't have had the confidence to do this beforehand."


"I was impressed by how many exercises Sally and Sarah crammed into the weekend. One good aspect was that the organisers gave us the option of not reading out work or having work recorded. The inclusion of radio drama excerpts was a very effective way of exemplifying different methods, the ‘how tos' and ‘what not to dos' of effective radio drama."





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