THE Road Not Taken has been selected as the theme for a national playwriting festival to be launched in Hampshire this week.

The winning ten plays from TakeTen, the biennial contest from Chesil Theatre Winchester, will be performed over one weekend in February 2021.

The celebrated theatre company has built a strong reputation for cultivating new plays and discovering new writers over the past decade and has attracted the attention of some renowned actors.

Having watched a performance, Sir Ian McKellen described the event as 'startlingly good'.

Chairman David Small said: “Chesil Theatre has long been associated with performing ground-breaking work, and TakeTen 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.

“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.”

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 ten winning plays to be performed back to back and with minimum set change time.

Plays need to be ten minutes in length and must be unperformed, unpublished and original work. Scripts can include one to four actors with minimum props, lighting and sound.

Entries should be submitted by July 18. Those shortlisted through an initial selection process then go to a panel of judges before the short list of 20 and final ten winners are announced in autumn 2020. Chesil Theatre then start appointing directors and stage management, with auditions and casting following.

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