Following the gruelling 2021 edition of T:>works’ marathon 24-Hour Playwriting Competition, six out of 80 participants have emerged with winning scripts. Select scripts from the winners will be presented as part of How To Break A Window II, a hybrid production taking place in February 2022.
Noorlinah Mohamed, Artistic Director of Festival of Women N.O.W. (2019-2021) who moderated three annual competitions since 2019 added, “This year we welcomed 66% new participants. That’s a good indication of the event’s reach and impact on writers. Additionally, our effort in transforming a site-specific competition into a digital event enabled participation even when social gathering is limited. We believe time and space for creativity, inspiration and imagination are necessary in these times. And over 80 registrants agreed with us. As a community, we gathered, exchanged ideas and made connections, albeit within the virtual space.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual 24-Hour Playwriting Competition was converted to a digital format in 2020, where, undaunted by constraints to social gathering, participants connected via online platforms: meal gatherings were held on Zoom while the five stimuli were distributed using Telegram and WhatsApp. The 24th edition of the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition marked the second digital edition of the competition, and once again, made it possible for a gathering of writing enthusiasts committed to commune with words and inspiration.
This year’s judges – Jean Tay, Zizi Majid and Sim Yan Ying – awarded the following writers the top three places in their respective categories.
• First Prize: #WomenSupportingWomen by Amanda Chong
• Second Prize: Kudumbam by Melizarani T.Selva
• Third Prize: Self-Care by Wan Nur Syafiqa Binte Syed Yusoff
• First Prize: Effets de soir (Effects of the Evening) by Sarah Zafirah
• Second Prize: 80s Power Hour by Tania Lam
• Third Prize: Ghost Republic by Chen Enying
With the digital edition, T:>Works introduced a new element to this enduring writing competition: mentorship. The judges for the competition made an appearance as writing buddies attending to participants’ queries as well as acting as a sounding board for their writing ideas. The mentorship process continued beyond the competition with the initiation of a new platform in 2020, How To Break A Window.
Now in its second year, How To Break A Window stages selected winning entries of the competition with mentoring and creative support by the judges, as well as a community of actors and directors to further develop the selected scripts. This year’s selected scripts include two from 2021, #WomenSupportingWomen by Amanda Chong, and Kudumbam by Melizarani T.Selva, as well as a script from the 2019 competition titled Green Leaves by Yin Mei Lenden-Hitchcock.
The first prize winning script, #WomenSupportingWomen, is a layered and nuanced exploration of the hashtag trend of rallying women to support other women when personal traumas and privileges are stacked against systemic limitations. Kudumbam, which bagged the second prize, finds a father and daughter dismantling the family’s dining table while unravelling the grief and gain of dividing a family and leaving a country behind.
Meanwhile the 2019 first prize winning entry, Green Leaves, performed on aerial silks, brings us on the tumultuous journey of one woman’s struggle to find self and meaning even when life seems perfect. Green Leaves is added to the presentation this year having experienced a postponement in 2020 due to the pandemic, and will be receiving its aerial theatre treatment, as intended.
How To Break A Window will also include an afternoon focused specifically on young writers aged 18 to 25 years old. In this forum, two staged readings — Effets de soir (Effects of the Evening) by two-time competition champion Sarah Zafirah and 80s Power Hour by Tania Lam will be staged. Alongside the staged readings are presentations of youth writing development and discussions led by Ang Kia Yee. Ang had participated in the same competition, in the Youth (2013, 2015) and Open (2018) categories, and is now an emerging playwright and artist.
Effets de Soir (Effects of the Night), written as a melding of art and technology, centers on a father-daughter relationship where trust between familial ties are tested. Meanwhile, 80s Hour Power tells a story of a magical yet necessary friendship between two men born from the need for connection in a time of loneliness and separation. Both plays were praised by the judges for their adroit handling of current themes and issues layered with a complex mix of genres and theatrical approaches.
The 24-Hour Playwriting Competition will return once again in 2022 with added vigour and new ideas, committed to invite and challenge participants to reflect the times they live in through their writing.
How To Break A Window II plays from 15th to 19th February 2022 at 72-13 and online. Tickets available from Peatix