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Writing Competition

The DLI/ADCI Playwriting Award 2023

in association with

The Ramor Theatre, Virginia

Inspiring excellence in writing plays

To promote, support and encourage improvement in playwriting on the one-act circuit in Ireland.

Entries for the competition for original new plays which have not been performed in public before 2023 should be received before Wednesday 20 September 2023.


Eligibility criteria

Those amateur playwrights who were born in Ireland, have gained Irish citizenship or who have lived in Ireland for a minimum of three years.  

An original one-act play which has not been performed in public, and which has not received any other funding. The competition is not for translations of other works. 


The judging panel

The judging panel will be made up of 3 members selected by the 6/6 committee, made up of members of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland (ADCI) and the Drama League of Ireland (DLI).

There will be an independent chairman, a member of DLI and a member of ADCI who will oversee the judging of the competition. The panel for the 2023 competition will be: Chair Walker Ewart, Anne Mekitarian representing DLI and Trisha Keane representing ADCI.

The panel can only judge one play per entrant.  

The play does not have to be entered for the One-act Circuit. 

The length of the playing time should be no less than 20 minutes and no more than 55 minutes. The average page, unless there is very little dialogue, should take about 2 minutes to play. 

Judging the plays

The play will be judged solely on the quality and potential of the writing.

The judging panel will provide each playwright with general points culled from the competition and short feedback on the individual play.

As well as an overall winner and a first and second runner-up, at the discretion of the judges some plays may be ‘highly commended.’


The award

The winners will be announced on the final night of the All-Ireland One-act Finals, which generally take place during the first weekend in December. The decision of the judges, overseen by the 6/6 committee, will be final.  

The winner will be awarded a week’s residency in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan sponsored by the Ramor Theatre, Virginia, Co Cavan. S/he will be expected to present a short report and some evidence of the work done during their residency.  

The panel reserve the right NOT to award the prize where the overall quality is deemed to be not sufficiently good. 

A copy of the play, of whichever draft, should be forwarded by e-mail to Walker Ewart ( .  Please see the attached notes to aid your application. 

Guidelines on the Presentation of Entries to the Play-Writing Competition 2023. 



It is permissible to send a draft of the play which may change as rehearsals go forward.

All entries should be typed in Arial size 12.

Please ensure that there is a complete list of cast members.

There should be a clear delineation between the lines of each character, with any stage directions either in brackets or italics.


Front page

The front page should have the title of the play with the name of the author.

At the bottom of the page please have the name of the group which will be performing the play and, if known, the festivals entered.


Introductory page (optional)

It would be useful for the panel to have: 

some background to the author (e.g. member of a particular group? How long writing? Any other published pieces? First time attempt?); and some information as to the themes explored within the play and why you chose to write it. 

The judging is based on the potential of the writing and not on how well the play does on the festival circuit. There will be 4 categories judged and it may help you to consider them as you review your writing:

  • development of character: 40%;
  • situations/scenes creating dramatic tension: 35%:
  • lighting/sound/technical: 15%;
  • overall appeal: 10%. 

An area which needs more attention is that of lighting/sound/technical.  Is there a particular effect you would like the director to achieve within your play? What guidelines can you give on the technical side of things? Any specific music/sound effects? 

The Winners of the 2022 DLI/ADCI Playwriting Competition in association with the Ramour Theatre, were announced at the All Ireland One Act Finals in Ballina in December.


Congratulations to all the winners!


WINNER: ‘The Matchless Oringa’ by Brian J. Walsh

1st RUNNER UP: ‘Willow’ by Catherine McKiernan

2nd RUNNER UP: ‘Behind Closed Doors’ by Sally Stephens

Further details on the plays to follow.

The DLI/ADCI Playwriting Award in Association with The Ramour Theatre, Virginia

Results from 2021


Love the Pole by Mark Yeates

  • Setting:  Sitting room of a Dublin home
  • Time:  The Present
  • Characters:  Bernie and Bridie, two aunts, aged 60/75
    • Millie: Niece, aged 25/40
    • Barney: Friend, butcher, aged 60/75

This one-act play is an absurdist black comedy. Millie visits her aunts reluctantly to celebrate her birthday. Life has not been good to her as a recent court judgement has gone against her. Her aunts, along with Barney, the singing butcher, are determined to give her a day – and a present – to remember.



Role of a Lifetime,  by Brian Walsh

  • Setting:  A clairvoyant’s stand at a fair
  • Time:  The Present
  • Characters:
    • Claire, a clairvoyant 50+
    • Frank, a sceptical onlooker 50+
    • Charlie, a worker at the fair, any age

When Claire returns after a break to her stand, she finds Frank waiting for her. There begins an argument about believing or not believing in clairvoyance. The play explores feelings and what has sometimes been left unsaid. The ending reveals that the seemingly superficial conversation has had more depth than imagined.



Exhibition,  by Derek Masterson

  • Setting:  A bright white artist’s studio with an unrevealed large work of art.
  • Time:  The present
  • Characters:
    • Elaine, the artist – early 30s
    • Fionnuala – late 40s. Perfect on the outside in every way.
    • Frederick – late 40s. The kind but flawed big brother.
    • Godfrey – early 40s. The self-made tycoon with an axe to grind.
    • Mother – Elderly woman. A stoic dark figure.

A successful artist who has made “art out of her pain” is about to unveil her newest and boldest work to date. She brings together her estranged siblings for a sneak peak of the exhibit. What ensues is an utterly dysfunctional but healing get-together. It is a dark  comedy that attempts to understand the agony and devastation of growing up with an alcoholic mother, yet also attempts to comprehend the pain of what it is to BE an alcoholic mother.



A Thousand Deaths,  by John Clancy

  • Setting:  Inside a church; a funeral of a mother.
  • Time:  The present
  • Characters:
    • Dan: The Father (60s)
    • James: The Son (30s/40s)
    • Nora: The Daughter (30s/40s)
    • Mrs Malone: The Sacristan (60s)
    • Mary: The Neighbour (60s/70s)
    • Eileen: The Butcher’s Wife (50s/60s)
    • Mother: The Mother (60s)

(Mrs Malone, Mary, Eileen and Mother can be played by the same person).

At the funeral of a wife and mother who has suffered for ‘A Thousand Days’ from dementia, the errant daughter and sister returns home on the day of the funeral. Family tensions and truths unfold in the church; there is anger, laughter, tears and some surprising revelations. People may think they are doing good, but do they see the real suffering. And will a shocking secret come to light?



Achill Sound,  by Ken Armstrong

  • Setting:  Various – a basic set which allows for an interview room, an office, a car and a farmhouse kitchen.  There is a visible steel wire which runs around the stage – the type that a dog’s lead could be attached to.
  • Time:  The Present
  • Characters:
    • Interviewer: Male or female 30s/40s
    • Giles: a farmer 50s/60s
    • Laura: manager, lecturer 30s/40s
    • Elaine: census enumerator 30s/40s
    • Jill: her companion 30s/40s
    • Mary: Giles’s wife 50s/60s
    • The Escapologist: any age

The play is a black comedy. A census enumerator returns to work after suffering a traumatic car accident in which her wife was killed. Working on a new patch in north Mayo she encounters an unusual individual on his remote farm. In moments of danger, she is forced to learn about the value of independence and inner strength.



Fred Astaire,  by Frank Houlihan

  • Setting:  A dressing table on which there is a mirror in the centre at which Charlie sits. The wife sits stage right, the mother stage left. The three characters do not look at each other directly except one time at the play’s end. When the dialogue indicates a conversation between characters, those involved will look in the space between the character and the audience. Though the stage is lit with a wash, there are three pools of white light – one on each character.
  • Time:  The Present
  • Characters:
    • Charlie (20s – 40s)
    • The Wife (according to age of actor playing Charlie)
    • The Mother (50s/60s)

The play is about identity; about love and the different kinds of love from two different perspectives. Charlie’s mother and his wife both love him but in their own different ways – their love is manipulative. Charlie tries to please them, to be a ‘Fred Astaire’ but he is never allowed to be himself. How will he deal with the situation?

Photo L-R Brian Walsh, Ollie Kenny (One Act Secretary), Mark Yeates
The winners of the 2021 DLI/ADCI Playwriting Competition, in association with the Ramor Theatre, were announced at the All Ireland One Act Finals in Ennis in December. Congratulations to the finalists, and to all those writers who submitted their plays.