The Hands Up Project playwriting competition

After working online with so many different groups of children and their teachers in Gaza over the past two years, it was such a joy to meet some of them face to face last week when I finally managed to get there in person. The British Council and UNRWA organised a wonderful conference where Scott Thornbury and I both gave plenary workshops for the 250 Gazan teachers of English who attended.


We were also treated to performances of song, dance and theatre by the 50 children who were also there. It was while watching this play, written and performed by Gazan children that I had an idea for the first Hands Up Project competition.


The competition is open to any children and young people in Palestine aged 15 or under who are attending UNRWA or Ministry of Education schools. The task is to write and perform an original play in English which is maximum 5 minutes long and which has a maximum of 5 actors. Any groups who would like to submit an application need to send a video recording of the performance, together with the written script to by 31st December 2017. Videos longer than 5 minutes long, with more than 5 actors (1 actor may play more than one character of course), or submitted after the deadline will not be accepted. The best entries will be published in a book and the videos published on youtube. Entries will be judged on both the quality of the performance, as well as the quality of the writing. The panel of judges will choose one entry to be the overall winner and the actors from this entry and their teacher will be invited to perform the play at the Hands Up Project conference which will take place in London in early 2018.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing a couple of posts which will focus on some of the language learning benefits of writing and performing a play in English to help you through the process. The very best of luck to you all! 🙂

9 thoughts on “The Hands Up Project playwriting competition

    1. Hi Sereen. Yes I was pleased too – immensely pleased! Do you think that the Rafah girls and boys groups would be interested in submitting something for this competition?


  1. Inspired by the HANDS UP PROJECT, many groups of children were engaged in various forms of storytelling and drama activities. A lot has already been achieved and the impact on the children is really apparent. These activities boost students’ confidence, contribute to improving their language skills and add fun to learning English. Students were performing stories adding their own flavor and style. However, they were confined to the original script of the story.
    Partnership with other groups from different countries and writing mutual stories was an additional step forward and I think this play writing competition will take the work to a new dimension. It will urge creativity and critical thinking and will foster cooperation as well if students work in groups to brainstorm themes for their play, negotiate to agree on the best theme, create characters, weave their story, edit many drafts of scripts then perform it. It will be a comprehensive experience that will add a lot. No matter who will be chosen as a winning performance, all those who are involved will gain a lot. I think it will be a demanding and challenging experience, but rich and rewarding at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Rida and that very detailed outline of what may be learnt by creating a play. I’m really looking forward to seeing what people come up with.


  2. Thank you Mr Nick for this competition. I think many schools are going to take a part in this competition. As a teacher, I’ve been working with my students on stories for one year and a half through the Hands up which affected positively their attitudes towards English language. I’m totally impressed by their performances ,acting, storytelling, composing the chants and creating their own stories during our online sessions with my collegue Alex,they wrote 3 stories including 5 elements she asked them to involve,that was in five minutes.
    So, I think it’s great to encourage students to write their own scripts cooperatively having their time , using many resources helping them to brainstorm, write ,add ,delete ,go through Google to translate. It’s fantastic. I’m personally will join my students by the early beginning of next school year. It’s good to have notes,opinions and records of what’s going behind the scenes, it’s an archive for the participants and a model for who are going to do the same after that. As we learnt,skills are integrated,I think we move from kids read to kids write ,What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – Sahar ‘Kids write’ is a great title for the way things are moving with the Hands Up Project. We saw the brilliant Alphabet stories which you and your students presented at the conference in Gaza, and there are lots of other ideas coming from Palestine about ways to get kids to create, rather than just consume. I’m wondering whether we should start a spin off site from this website called Kids write, which we use for uploading poems and stories etc created by children involved with the Hands Up Project.


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