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Writers’ Competition, prizes and jury

Autor*innenwettbewerb / Writers’ Competition

The Writers’ Competition, the Autor*innenwettbewerb, is the heart of the Heidelberger Stückemarkt. Since 1996, the theatre festival has been organising the much-acclaimed competition with highly endowed prizes as a talent promotion for new authors.

In the Writers’ Competition, publishers, courses of study and formerly nominated writers are entitled to submit proposals. The festival team selects six plays from their submissions. In addition, there are new plays from the guest country.

During the festival, the nominated plays are presented in readings with the Heidelberg ensemble.

Call for Tenders: Writers’ Competition 2023

The Theater und Orchester Heidelberg invites all eligible candidates to send in plays for the Writers’ Competition held as part of the 40th Heidelberger Stückemarkt, Heidelberg’s theatre festival.
The Heidelberger Stückemarkt focuses on promoting writers who are not yet established.

Eligible candidates are:

  • Publishing houses for theatre plays from German-speaking countries
    Former nominees of the German-speaking Writers’ Competitions as well as the Jugendstückepreis (Youth Drama Award) of the Heidelberger Stückemarkt
  • Lecturers who teach Creative Writing for the Stage programmes at the Universität der Künste Berlin, the Deutsches Literaturinstitut at the Universität Leipzig, the Schweizerisches Literaturinstituts at the Hochschule der Künste Bern, the Universität Hildesheim, the Institut für Sprachkunst Wien as well as UniT Graz.
  • Dramaturges working for theatres

Personal deliveries are not accepted.

The premiere for the submitted play can have been arranged, but the play cannot have premiered before the festival. The Theater und Orchester Heidelberg undertakes to stage one of the nominated plays in the following season (premiere or second performance). The nominated writers and publishing houses undertake to cede the right to open the Heidelberger Stückemarkt 2024 with the chosen play to the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg.

All submitted plays need to be originally in German or available in the original language plus translation into German. Writers need to have their centre of vital interest in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg or Switzerland. Submissions for children’s and youth theatre plays are expressly welcomed.

The following prizes are awarded as part of the Writers’ Competition of the Heidelberger Stückemarkt:

  • Autor*innenpreis (Writers’ Prize) funded by Manfred Lautenschläger-Stiftung: € 10,000
  • SWR2 Hörspielpreis (Audio Play Prize) including production of the audio play by the broadcaster SWR € 5,000
  • Publikumspreis (Audience Award) funded by Freundeskreis des Theaters und Orchesters Heidelberg: € 2,500

The festival management considers it essential that the nominated writers be present at the festival, so that they can network and enter into an exchange. Therefore, we will assume the cost of travel, accommodation and - depending on availability - entrance fee for events. Writers have to be present for the award ceremony on 7 May 2023.

Nowadays, writers work at different stages of theatre production. How can we promote playwrights, which positions do they want to occupy within the theatre world? The Heidelberger Stückemarkt aims to support writers according to their individual needs. All writers are invited to include a wish in their application that the Heidelberger Stückemarkt will aim to fulfil during the festival.

The deadline for submissions is 15 December 2022 (date of e-mail). Please send in your manuscripts in digital form to: stueckemarkt [​at​]

The jury awards the Autor*innenpreis of the Heidelberger Stückemarkt. This is donated by the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation and is endowed with 10,000 euros. In addition, the premiere of one of the nominated plays will open the festival the following year.

The international playwright prize, donated by the state of Baden-Württemberg, is endowed with 5,000 euros and is awarded by the Stückemarkt jury to one of the three nominated writers from the guest country.

Jugendstückepreis / Youth drama award

In line with the KinderStückePreis of the Mülheimer Theatertage NRW, the Heidelberger Stückemarkt awards the Jugendstückepreis (youth drama award) to one of the three invited youth theatre guest performances. The winner is chosen by the jury together with a group of experts from young people interested in theatre.

The prize is endowed with 6,000 euros, donated by the Heidelberg entrepreneur couple Bettina Schies and Klaus Korte, KORTE Bauteile GmbH. In addition, the winning production will be invited to the framework programme of the Mülheimer Theatertage NRW 2023.


With a view to the sustainable promotion of new drama, the Nachspielpreis was established in 2011. The Nachspielpreis is not endowed and comes with a guest performance invitation to the Autorentheatertage at the Deutsches Theater Berlin.

The Heidelberger Stückemarkt sees the Nachspielpreis as an encouragement to those theatres to put plays on the repertoire that have been unjustly neglected. New plays are often in danger of being forgotten in the hype of their premiere - sometimes because the author is a little-known young playwright or because the premiere did not do them justice.

The Nachspielpreis therefore wants to honour theatres that take the risk of staging such plays again.

Publikumspreis / Audience award

All the plays in the writers' competition and the international writers' competition are up for election for the audience award. The audience has the opportunity to vote for a winner in a written ballot after each play reading.

The winner will receive prize money of 2,500 euros, donated by the Freudeskreis (friends association) of the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg.

SWR Hörspielpreis

In 2021, the Heidelberger Stückemarkt is cooperating with SWR for the first time and offering a new prize: the SWR Hörspielpreis. It will go to one of the plays in the writers' competition, is endowed with 5,000 euros and will be produced by SWR as a radio play. The first broadcast will take place at the next Stückemarkt.

For the Hörspielpreis, the jury will be supplemented by Manfred Hess, chief dramaturge at SWR Hörspiel.