Drama On One producer (and renowned poet and author) Aidan Matthews celebrates the P.J. O' Connor Awards for Radio Drama, celebrating the best in new Irish writing. 

The closing date for entries for The 2020 P.J. O'Connor competition is Friday 11th September 2020 - details here.

The RTE P.J.'s are around a long while, longer even than the J.P's, the so-called John Paul generation of the Polish Pope's Irish children, who are hitting half a hundred years at this stage of ageing; yet the P.J.'s themselves are a new kid on the block compared to Radio 1's Francis MacManus short story competition, which is almost as old as the third-last tide of emigration in the 1950s.

There are times when you'd think there are more writers than readers in this island of sinners and scholars.

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Listen: The Quiet Land by Malachy McKenna, 1st place winner in the 2014 PJ O'Connor Awards:

There are certainly more prose-writers than playwrights. Something like a hundred and fifty scripts compete for prizes in the drama award, while fifteen hundred is closer the norm in the story section. As an amateur of both modes, I sometimes imagine that this recurrent preference derives from the neatness and naturalness of a single perspective, or P.O.V., as against the undecided plurality of the play-house. First-person fiction is particularly prone to soliloquy; and soliloquy is only, alas, a polite word for monologue.

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Listen: Ma By Elaine Murphy, 1st place winner in the 2018 PJ O'Connor Awards:

Drama on One presents another chance to hear the play which took 1st Place in the the PJ O'Connor Radio Drama Awards 2018. The winning play is Ma written by Elaine Murphy.

Instead of which, as Elizabeth Bowen famously said, "Dialogue is what we do to each other". Unanimity therefore, in fact as in fiction, can only be the enemy of theatre, for the representation of ordinary human conflict, which is both lethal and life-giving, requires that we acknowledge two turbulent things: that the world and his wife are not binary (black/white, good/bad, left/right) but multiple - mongrels and not thoroughbreds - and that no-one, accordingly, can ever have the last word, since the desire to have the last the last word is itself a form of violence.

There are certainly more prose-writers than playwrights. Something like a hundred and fifty scripts compete for prizes in the drama award, while fifteen hundred is closer the norm in the story section.

No wonder Plato, in search of Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, took a dim view of the theatre in his time; and no wonder the great Greek philosopher wrote all his eventual work in dialogue form.

The 2017 P.J. O'Connor competition is now open for entries; the closing date is Friday 11th September 2020 - details here.