THE Road Not Taken has been selected as the theme for a new national playwriting festival run by Chesil Theatre in Winchester, with the winning 10 plays performed over one weekend in February 2021.

Entries are open for TakeTen Chesil Theatre New Writing Festival (‘TakeTen’), the new biennial contest.

It has a simple format:

- plays need to be ten minutes long;

- scripts can include up to four actors, with minimum props, lighting and sound;

- they must also be unperformed, unpublished and original work.

The theatre has built a reputation for cultivating new plays and discovering writers over the past decade and has attracted the attention of some renowned actors. Having watched a performance, Sir Ian McKellen said: “I thought the whole enterprise was startlingly good and an example of what a theatre company like the Chesil can do better than a professional one. They should be very proud of the result of their labours.”

TakeTen builds on this success and the company hopes its new contest will be the most successful yet.

David Small, Chesil chairman, said: “Chesil Theatre has long been associated with performing ground-breaking work, and ‘TakeTen Chesil Theatre New Writing Festival 2021’ aims to cement that reputation and to give new talent an opportunity to be celebrated – in front of a paying audience – over one weekend.

“We received a large number of suggestions for the festival theme, with The Road Not Taken selected owing to its wide opportunity for interpretation. While it is the name of a well-known poem by Robert Frost, we hope that new playwrights will have a lot of fun with it and use its versatility to come up with some theatre firsts.”

A unique feature of TakeTen is its final rehearsal period taken over a concentrated time. This makes it easier for those who can’t normally commit to the theatre’s usual eight-week schedule to take part. The set for each play is also kept intentionally simple, allowing for the 10 winning plays to be performed back to back and with minimum set change time.

Mr Small added: “The whole ‘hothouse’ atmosphere of the festival creates a tremendous team effort when 50 people or more finally get together for the four performances over one frenetic weekend, culminating in a final end of show party.”

All entries must be in by 11.59pm on July 18. Those shortlisted go to a panel of judges before the short list of 20 and final 10 winners are announced in the autumn. Chesil Theatre then start appointing directors and stage management, with auditions and casting following.

Entry criteria from or email