Twelfth Night writing contest: School Drama

About Filter Theatre’s Twelfth Night:

Filter’s Twelfth Night is a radically cut fast-paced version of Shakespeare’s most loved comedy.   

Nothing is hidden. Everything is revealed. In this informal production, the stage is awash with cables, costume changes occur in front of the audience and performance decisions are made on the hoof. 

With the feel of joining a sophisticated jamming session, Twelfth Night is constantly shifting, never the same twice.  

Filter approach this show with their trademark fusion of sound, music and narrative drive, creating live chemistry between actors, audience, text and sound that explodes into a vital and exhilarating theatrical experience.


About the Writing Contest: 

The British Council in partnership with Pan Macmillan, India, are offering a chance to schools to participate in a writing contest that interprets Shakespeare's most witty production Twelfth Night in a modern context.  


The Contest Details: 

How would you interpret Shakespeare’s most witty and satirical play Twelfth Night in today’s context?  Imagine the story of Viola, Sebastian, Count Orsino and Olivia set in the 21st century and tell us about it no more than 300 words. Write a script, poem, or a story within the word limit.  

You may use a reference to real-life people or fictional characters.


Terms & Conditions:

  • This contest is brought to you by British Council in partnership with Pan MacMillan, India.
  • The contest is open only to schools and children between 13-18 years of age. 
  • Participants should email their entries to:
  • The deadlines for entry vary as per the region. See below:


Regions Cities Deadline for receiving entries  
North  Covers all schools in north India  23 November  
East Covers all schools in east India  30 November  
South Covers all schools in south India 5 December  
West Covers all schools in west India 11 December  

*Any entries beyond the deadline will not considered.

  • Four lucky winners from each region (North, South, East & West) will win exciting prizes.
  • All participants/ entries will be given the chance to watch one performance of Twelfth Night in a city nearest to them. 
  • Winners for each region will be announced on December 14 (after contest closes) on the basis of creative responses. British Council India reserves the right to disqualify any participant / even the winners if it has reasonable reasons to believe that the participant/ winner has breached any of the 'Terms and Conditions' of the contest. 
  • Winners will be sent the prizes by courier on December 18 after receiving their address.
  • British Council India reserves the right to choose another participant/ winner in the event of disqualification/rejection of any of the participant/ winner.
  • British Council India may, without advance notice cancel, suspend or postpone the contest at any time at its sole discretion.
  • Winners will be notified directly or via their host schools. Individuals will be informed to mail the required details like proof of national identity, PAN details, address proof etc. Gift/ prize will be given to the winner only after complete verification.
  • In case the declared winner denies accepting the prize, British Council India holds the right to disqualify that prize totally.
  • The reward, cannot be exchanged, converted, transferred, assigned in favour of other, or combined with any goods, cash, person or scheme respectively in any circumstances.
  • All taxes (FBT/TDS/VAT / Registration/ Insurance/ Income Tax etc.) if any, shall be borne - by the winning participant.
  • We may change these conditions from time to time without prior notice. It is the user’s responsibility to check regularly, in order to ascertain if any changes have been made to these Terms and Conditions.
  • Entries which are not under the contest criteria brief will not be eligible to win.
  • Gift/ prize will be disclosed to the winner only. British Council India holds the right to change the gift/ prize without prior notice.
  • In all cases British Council India will not be held liable if the Prize does not reach the Winner for reasons beyond our control.
  • British Council India’s decision of winner will be final and binding.


Six Writing tips to adapt Twelfth Night: Oliver Dimsdale, Associate Director, Twelfth Night

1. Be bold in your interpretation, and don’t forget about the balance of darkness and light in your version. There is humour, but there are dark moments for most of the characters. Filter have the mantra ‘Wrong is Strong’ whilst in the rehearsal room.

2. Be inspired by characters from your own lives. Perhaps write about what you know. Do you know a Malvolio? Base the modern version of him on that person. Do you know a Viola or an Orsino? How about a Toby Belch? Write it with those personalised thoughts in mind.

3. Can you suggest contemporary dialogue that is a modern version of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter? How can you blend verse and prose into a contemporary retelling of Twelfth Night?

4. Filter’s version sees the story mainly through Viola’s eyes. Could your contemporary version see it through another character’s? (Malvolio? Feste?) Could it be Shakespeare himself who is looking in on the tale?!

5. Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare's most lyrical plays. As you write your modem version you may wish to suggest what music is accompanying the narrative, at certain moments.

6. Think also about the many forms of love in Twelfth Night. See if you can differentiate these forms of love in your contemporary version.


About William Shakespeare and Twelfth Night

William Shakespeare was a poet, playwright, performer and producer. He was probably born on the 23rd April, St George’s Day, in 1564. He died on his 52nd birthday, 1616. Thus a cult of national sainthood surrounds The Bard Of Olde England. Setting that aside, it’s the human and political range of the 40-ish plays that he wrote, co-wrote or in which he had a helping hand - plus his poems - that make him worthy of such attention.

What we know of his life is fairly humdrum. He was the middle child of five (three other siblings didn’t survive), the eldest son of: John Shakespeare, a glover and former local dignitary in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire; and Mary Arden, daughter of a wealthy farmer. He went to the local grammar school where he learned Latin. Stratford was (is) a prosperous market town in a pretty-ish part of the West Midlands, but not especially inspirational to a future dramatist, you’d have thought. Shakespeare did, however, have his first experience of live theatre in its Guildhall where touring companies often performed, giving him a glimpse of the seedy glamour, majesty and magic of theatre, the itinerant lifestyle of its players and their liberal morals. He was stage-struck – and by the late 1580s he appears as an actor in London on the cusp of a writing career.

He left a wife and three children behind him in Stratford. At the age of 18, he married an orphaned woman of independent means, Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, already pregnant with his child. She gave birth to Susanna in 1583. Then the twins Judith and Hamnet were born in 1585. Shakespeare provided generously for them but only returned to Stratford a few times a year before his retirement. London was now his playground.

London. A seductive city on the make. Shakespeare is opportunistic, full of self-belief. He lives a bachelor lifestyle in the high octane, media and literary circles of the metropolis – a boy from the sticks relishing being a man-about-town in the big city. In theatre and poetry, he has discovered the art of the possible. When not performing, he spends his time dreaming up new realities.

When he writes Twelfth Night in 1601 - over ten years into his writing career, just after he’s delivered Hamlet - it’s the last (and most perfect) of his true comedies. It has a fairytale form - a sea-storm, twins, deception and disguise, the social layers of its characterisation. It has prose, verse and lyric poetry all rolled into one. It is a play full of magic and transformation, loss and reconciliation. It’s the beginning of those themes of Romance that he’ll pursue further, with equal wonder, in his late plays.