All posts by A.C. Smith

Are women writers making themselves invisible?

For Women’s Equality Day, LPB is re-running this post from last year’s Dark Horse Festival, which was our most shared post of 2016.  

After the post went live, we saw a huge uptick in submissions from female writers. In fact, we ended the submission period with roughly equal submissions from male and female writers.

But this is still a problem. And it’s not just us who have encountered it. Even the Royal Court, which has achieved fantastic gender parity, is still receiving twice as many unsolicited scripts from men as it is from women

Today, no matter your background, we’d ask you to consider whether you’re being brave and bold about putting your work out there.

The world wants your stories. Make sure you’re giving us the chance to hear them.

Last week, London Playwrights Workshop put out a call for scripts for the Dark Horse Festival, a script showcase that will be taking place as part of London Writers Week 2016.

We were excited as the submissions started to roll in, but we quickly noticed something that seemed odd, and even downright disturbing.  While we were getting loads of emails from men, we were receiving hardly any from women.  In fact, a cursory count reveals that women currently make up approximately 25% of the submissions we’ve received.

We haven’t yet had an opportunity to do an analysis of our equal opportunities forms to see how we stack up on other counts (such as ethnic heritage and disability), and how these ratios compare to how these groups are represented in society.  But the gender issue is clear – if women are 50% of the population, we should be seeing scripts from them.  But it isn’t happening.

So, ladies, we have to ask – what is going on?

It’s well-documented that women playwrights are underrepresented in the industry.  As reported last year in The Guardian, in 2013 only 31% of new plays were by women.

As a female playwright myself, I’ve been frustrated and dissatisfied when I’ve seen organisations throw their hands up saying ‘women don’t submit as much’ as an excuse for not having an equal gender balance in their programming.  But now as a festival organiser, I’m experiencing firsthand how much more difficult it is to programme equally when women aren’t sending in their scripts.

There’s a brilliant community of women writers out there.

We know, because we’ve met them.

Since London Playwrights Workshop was set up, women have outnumbered men on nearly every course we have run.  (Including one unusual occasion where we had nine women in the room to only one man.)

And yet… 26% of Festival submissions?  No matter how you shake it, these numbers just don’t add up.

As a team, we’ve been asking ourselves, why this could be?  Is there something in the call that puts women off?  (Even though we made it a point to specifically encourage underrepresented voices.)  Perhaps female writers are planning to submit, but are just getting to it a bit later.

Is it possible that they are more discriminating than their male counterparts?  Or are they just more discouraged?

Although my personal and anecdotal experience contradicts the statistics (fortunately for me), it’s unquestionable that there’s gender bias in the arts.  And if I’m honest, there have been times when I’ve questioned if being a woman has held me back in my career.  There are stories I want to see onstage that aren’t there yet.  And I’ve despaired when reading stories like this Jezebel post, where a female writer received eight and a half times more responses (17 out of 50 queries) when she sent out her query under a male pseudonym.

Other people – male and female – clearly feel the same way.  There’s been an explosion of groups that have picked up the baton from individual trailblazers to promote more equality in the arts – organisations like Tonic Theatre, 17 Percent, Waking The Feminists, and The Kilroys.

There’s been a lot of attention on what theatres and producers need to do.  This is important and correct.  But it’s a strange thing to open a door, and not see people stepping forward to walk through it.  Maybe there’s also something that needs to be done from the other direction, giving women the inspiration – or the wakeup call – that part of the power is in our hands to submit early, often, and enthusiastically.

If your experience as a playwright is anything like mine, you’ve undoubtedly been disappointed in past submissions.  And you will no doubt continue to be disappointed.  This may partly be because of lingering sexism.  This may partly be down to luck.  This may partly be because this industry requires thick skin to rival a rhino to stick with the repeated rejections that will come your way.  It sucks, and there’s no point pretending otherwise.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop or slow down.  Not for one minute.  I say this for all the writers, but it seems it’s the women who particularly need to hear it.  Don’t question yourself or your talent (or at least, only question yourself in a way that’s artistically fruitful).  Send your stuff in.  This is how you get seen, and this is how you get produced.

As we watched these submissions roll in, it felt irresponsible not to say something.  We understand that writing this post may affect the makeup of the scripts we receive.  (Thus, potentially robbing us of an opportunity to collect data on how people submit without intervention.)  But we’re not scientists.  We’re trying to run a festival giving unheard voices a chance, and we can’t do that without getting the scripts.

The title of this post is purposefully provocative, because we want people to read it and think about these issues.  But we think it’s wrongheaded and unfair to lay this problem solely at the feet of women.

There is something deeply wrong at an institutional or industry level if we’re seeing this discrepancy in behavior.

Here’s what we’re doing in response:

  • We’re actively approaching people who work with new writing. We’re asking them to send us nominations that will help us reach writers we might not otherwise have come into contact with.
  • We’re extending the submission deadline to give us a bit more time to reach more writers.
  • We’re publishing the blog post you’re reading now to call attention to the issue and encourage a more diverse range of submissions.
  • Following the delivery of the festival, we’re going to take steps to look at this issue in more detail. There have been studies done about why theatres aren’t programming women writers, but maybe we need to look at the problem from the other direction as well, to figure out why women aren’t submitting?  Do we need an initiative or programmes to encourage women to send scripts in?

To our readers (and all the playwrights out there), we’d like to say:

Men – Keep up the good work!  We’re thrilled to be hearing from you.  It’s exciting to see all the scripts coming in, and we can’t wait to read them.

Women – We’ve got years of history to catch up with.  Let’s make it happen.  You’ve still got time to send your play in.  Make sure you don’t count yourself out before you even start.

A.C. Smith is Director & Co-Founder of London Playwrights Workshop, and works as a scriptwriter and songwriter in London. 

Photo credit: Kathryn via CC License

Support LPB – Become a Member!

Why should you join? Click to find out!

Love what we do? Want to get even more support for our writing? Join the LPB community and become a member today!

A jumpstart for your writing for the price of a cup of coffee…

London Playwrights’ Blog is founded on the premise that writers coming together can create great things. Created from a grassroots movement of connecting writers to information and opportunities, LPB has grown to reach an audience of 5,000+ playwrights every month.

But as our work has grown, we’ve also needed a bigger infrastructure to support this. Our membership scheme provides the core support necessary to sustain our work for new writers.

Even better – members get a host of exciting, exclusive benefits!

Membership starts from as little as £3.63/month.

Join today to secure the future of LPB – and help us do even more to support you!

Click here to join!!!

Image: London Writers’ Week 2017

Meet our new team members!

Building on the momentum of our new website launch and London Writer’s Week events, LPB is very excited to welcome on board our two brand new team members – Jennifer and Samia!

Read on to learn a little bit more about them below…

Jennifer Richards – Editor

Jennifer Richards is a freelance journalist, having written articles for Refinery29, The Brighton and Hove Independent, GoThinkBig, Spiked, The Debrief, and Wonderland magazine. She has also interned for publications including The Times, The Week and Girl Talk. As a creative writer, she was selected to contribute a short play to the Writers Avenue 6 Degrees show at The Courtyard Theatre. She has also previously been a finalist in the Merlin Theatre Short Play Competition.

Samia Djilli – Intern

Samia is an emerging writer who has just graduated from University with a First-Class Honours in Creative Writing. She has had short stories and poetry published in various student anthologies, and last year had her first play produced at the Lion and Unicorn theatre. Samia has an interest in creating new content, and works on finding new and exciting opportunities for the website.

We’re thrilled to have them on board making new content for the site, and can’t wait to share their ideas and writing with you!

Want to help us make even more cool stuff?  

Become a Member!

Image: Shawn Arron via CC Licence

Meet our London Writers’ Week panelists!

If you come along tomorrow (Saturday 8 July) to our event at the Bush Theatre, you’ll be able to hear some of these brilliant folks talking about making work in the digital age!

Event details (with links to booking) can be found here – and remember if you sign up to become a member, you can get a booking code to attend for FREE.  (Click here to read more about becoming a member and why you should join!)

Making Work in the Digital Age – Panelists

Erin Siobhan Hutching

Erin Siobhan Hutching is a half Kiwi, half Irish actor, writer, producer and deviser based in London. She plays with genre, physicality, audio-visual elements, humour and multiple forms of communication to create performances which are honest, poignant and often provocative.

Erin‘s debut play as a writer, People of the Eyewas produced in collaboration with The DH Ensemble. It is a semi-autobiographical piece based on her relationship with her sister who is Deaf, and their family’s experiences discovering sign language. People of the Eye has been performed at venues across the UK including Northern Stage’s curated program at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016 and The Yard Theatre’s NOW’16 Festival. The show has been booked for a UK tour in the Autumn of 2017, commencing at Battersea Arts Center in London. She is now working on her second play. “An arresting, immersive and startlingly original piece of theatre.” A Younger Theatre (on People of the Eye)

Personal website: www.erinsiobhanh.com
Company website: www.thedeafandhearingensemble.com
Twitter: @ErinSiobhanH

Lynette Linton

Lynette Linton is a director, and playwright. She trained on the StoneCrabs Young Directors Course where she was also awarded the Jack Petchy award. She is also co-founder of production company Black Apron Entertainment and Associate Director of the Gate Theatre from 2016 to 2017. She will be Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse from July 2017. Her play #Hashtag Lightie will be returning to the Arcola Theatre in November, following a sold out run.

Writing credits include: Step (rehearsed reading, and school tour, Theatre Royal Stratford East), Service (Boom Festival, Bush Theatre), Chicken Palace (Theatre Royal Stratford East), which she also co-directed and Ergo Sum (Theatre Deli).

Directing credits include: Assata Taught Me (Gate Theatre) Indenture (Dark Horse Festival), The Rally (Rehearsed Reading, Theatre Royal Stratford East), Naked  (Vault Festival 2015), This Wide Night (Albany Theatre).

Twitter: @LynetteLinton

Deborah Pearson

Deborah Pearson is a live artist and playwright.  Her work has toured to four continents and fifteen countries, and has been translated into five languages.  She recently published The Future Show with Oberon books and most recently her work was shown at the Royal Court.  She is the founding co-director of UK artist collective Forest Fringe.  Deborah has won awards for both her solo practice and her work with Forest Fringe, including three herald angels, a Scotsman Fringe First, a Peter Brooke Empty Space Award and the Total Theatre Award for Significant Contribution.

She has a PhD in narrative in contemporary performance from Royal Holloway, where she was a Reid Scholar.  Her research was supervised by Dan Rebellato.

She is an associate artist with Volcano in Canada and is a resident artist at Somerset House Studios.

Website: www.deborahpearson123.wordpress.com
Twitter: @shysecretagent

Sam Sedgman

Sam Sedgman is a writer, digital producer and project manager based in London.

He runs the National Theatre’s On Demand In Schools platform, which streams recordings of National Theatre productions into over 3000 UK school classrooms for free. He’s also the host and co-producer of the National Theatre Podcast, which explores theatre at play in the social and cultural issues of our time. He previously worked as Digital Producer and Editor for the Free Word Centre, and in the literary teams of Theatre503, the Old Red Lion and Finborough Theatres, joining the London Playwrights team 4 years ago as their Editorial Manager, where he is currently their Digital Development Consultant. His play Charlie Hebdo: An Epistolary Play was shortlisted for the Courtyard Theatre Award, and explored ways to represent digital communication in theatrical form. He has written articles on the intersection of culture and technology for The Guardian, The Space and elsewhere.

Twitter: @samuelsedgman
Instagram: samsedgman
National Theatre podcast: nationaltheatre.org.uk/podcast

 

 

A New Chapter for LPB…

Support LPB – Become a Member!

The past four years of running London Playwrights’ Blog have been wonderful – we’ve loved getting to work with and support so many incredible writers.

But they have also been challenging. As we’ve grown our work, we’ve needed to build the infrastructure to support that. Even with a team working on a volunteer basis, finding the funds to cover our basic costs (web hosting, insurance, accountant fees) has been a bit of a struggle.

So… we’re taking a leap of faith.

We are launching a membership site: www.londonplaywrights.org

If you have read our blog and benefitted from the opportunities we’ve posted, we hope you’ll think about joining. For only the cost of a cup of coffee, you can provide the vital to keep our work running – and do even more.

If you sign up as a member, in addition to securing the future of London Playwrights’ Blog, you’re going to get special benefits – exclusive digital content, quarterly member meetups, a members-only Facebook group, and lots more to come.

Visit our site to learn more about what we’re offering to members and why you should join.

Plus if you join now, you can get a free booking code to our London Writers’ Week events this Saturday 8 July at the Bush Theatre!  We’d love to see you at our events, or for drinks in the bar afterwards if you want to meet us, learn more about what we’re doing, and celebrate our launch!

Our regular LPB opportunities listings and blog content will continue to be offered for free to all, so don’t worry – the resource that you already know and love isn’t going anywhere!

It’s been a real pleasure giving to you, the wonderful writers in this community. We’ll hope you’ll be inspired to give back to us. Join the movement of new writers coming together to make a bright future for new writing!

Check out our brand new Members’ site now!

Talawa seeking applications for four-week TYPT Programme (Black British artists, age 18-25)

TYPT is Talawa’s flagship programme for emerging theatre makers. Every summer a team of emerging artists aged 18-25 works with established artists to create a brand new show.

At TYPT artists develop their practice, test ideas and produce a brand new piece of theatre in just 4 weeks.

TYPT:17 runs from Monday 7 August – Saturday 2 September 2017.

What you get:  Whether you are a performer, stage manager, designer or technician, every element of the TYPT process will be open to you from initial production meetings to script development sessions; from meetings with graphic designers to the get-out.

I came to TYPT looking for the empowerment to develop as a performer and writer, and I certainly succeeded, we all did. Talawa’s enduring faith in developing new artists is remarkable and for my own journey TYPT was the biggest part of that.” 

-Michaela Coel, Writer and Performer, BAFTA Winner ‘Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme’ and ‘Breakthrough Talent’ 2016

How to apply:  To apply, download the application form from their website and email it to gail@talawa.com or post it to Talawa Theatre Company, 53 – 55 East Road London N1 6AH.

If your application is successful you will be invited to an audition or workshop and interview.

Deadline:  Friday 17 June 2016 at 6pm

Source:  Talawa Newsletter

Talawa Script Reading Service (Black British writers)

Twice a year, Talawa opens up a script reading window. They are now ready to receive new writing and powerful stories from new Black British writers.

Be sure to check out their website which has top tips from previous Talawa programme writers!

How to apply:  Please submit one electronic copy of your play either in Word or pdf format with a covering letter to scripts@talawa.com

  • Please submit one electronic copy of your play either in Word or pdf format, with a covering letter
  • They can only accept one script per person, per window

The Process

  • They will confirm that we have received your script
  • Your script will be read by one of their team of script readers, who will report back to the Literary Associate in their Readers’ Meeting

You will either receive a detailed script report or, if your script is selected for further development, you will be invited to come in and meet with Talawa

Please note – this process takes three months.   It may take slightly longer if your script has been shortlisted and recommended for a full read by the Literary Associate.

Deadline:  30 June 2017

Source:  Talawa Newsletter

Want to work with LPB? We’re recruiting!

Are you interested in getting hands-on experience working for a non-profit arts startup?  Come and join the LPB Team… 

London Playwright’s Blog is in the process of expanding our team, to provide even more great content for our readers and community.

We’re interested in hearing from self-starters with a passion for writing and interest in leading within an online community.

The Roles

LPB is currently looking for people for two new roles:

Editor:

Help us grow our content, write original pieces and oversee commissions, and contribute to the creative growth of the blog.
Click to read more
.

Intern:

Hear about the latest news first and gain experience writing online by contributing to our opportunities postings.
Click to read more.

Everyone on the LPB team currently works on a volunteer basis, and that would also be the case for these roles, which are both unpaid.

While both these roles have deadline-driven responsibilities, the work can be done in a flexible way from home at hours that suit you.  So this is a great opportunity to gain new experience while working around your existing commitments.

A sneak preview…

Curious about what it’s really like working with LPB?  Read this post from our former Intern Hector Dyer, who played a key role in supporting our opportunities posting and events, and has since created work at the Barbican Centre and for New Diorama’s Incoming Festival with Bellow Theatre.

Apply!

Be sure to send your application in to jobs@londonplaywrightsblog.com by the deadline on Friday 23 June 2017 at 5pm if you’re interested.

London Playwrights’ Workshop welcomes people of all backgrounds.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Image: The company of the 2016 Dark Horse Festival, Eulanda Shead Photography.

Intern sought for London Playwrights’ Blog

Interested in learning about blogging and supporting playwrights? We want to hear from you!

London Playwrights Workshop is seeking an intern to support the work of London Playwrights Blog.

The post is ideally suited to an emerging writer interested in learning about blogging and getting involved with a non-profit company during its startup stage.

About the job: The role will primarily focus on supporting LPB in finding and posting opportunities and producing the weekly opportunities roundup. For a person with the right interests and experience, there may also be opportunities to write additional content for the site.  The role may involve other administrative tasks, according to the needs of the organisation.  There will also be opportunities to become involved with the exciting new projects we’ve got coming up in the next few months.

Key Skills:

  • Confident writing skills
  • Reliable personality
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Excellent spelling/grammar
  • Proactive and able to work independently
  • Able to follow a writing style guide

We’re looking for someone with a keen interest in playwriting and the new writing industry, although you do not need to have worked in this area before.

No previous experience of blogging or WordPress is required, as training will be provided in these areas.

You must be 18 or older to apply for this role.

What you’ll get out of it: 

  • Training in how to blog and use WordPress software
  • Your byline included on London Playwrights’ Blog
  • Excellent knowledge of the new writing landscape in London
  • Firsthand experience of working in a theatre non-profit
  • Hands-on experience at key events, including London Writers’ Week

Hours/Duration:  6-8 hours per week (approx).  The hours are flexible and designed to work around other professional and personal commitments, as the majority of the work can be completed from home. As long as deadlines are met, you can work when you please!

The role requires a four month commitment to the blog, from July-October 2017.

Payment: This post is unpaid. London Playwrights Blog is run on a voluntary basis by its staff and writers, and this applies to the Intern role as well.

What to submit:  Please send us:

How to apply: Send your application materials to jobs@londonplaywrightsblog.com, including the job title in the email subject.

Because blogs are deadline-driven, producing polished and accurate work to schedule is the most essential component of this role. Should you be shortlisted, we’ll ask for a reference who can speak to your capabilities and strengths in these areas. Shortlisted applicants will also be asked to complete a short exercise to show their aptitude for producing content for our site.

Deadline: Friday 23 June 2017 at 5pm

(And for an inside look at what it’s like working with the LPB team, read this post from our former intern Hector Dyer about what really happens behind the scenes.)

Image: StockSnap.io

Editor sought for London Playwrights’ Blog

Are you a keen blogger with a flair for creating original content? Are you interested in supporting emerging playwrights? Then we want to hear from you!

London Playwrights’ Workshop is seeking an Editor to oversee and expand the original content put out on London Playwrights’ Blog.

The post is ideally suited to an experienced content writer/ blogger with a passion for new writing. Whilst you don’t have to be a playwright to apply, you’ll need to have an in-depth knowledge of the challenges emerging writers face, so that you can create engaging content for our readers.

About the job: The Editor will take a leadership role in programming and delivering all creative content for the London Playwrights Blog website.

The role will involve commissioning original content, liaising with writers to ensure content is delivered and editing their work. Working closely with the London Playwrights’ Blog team, you’ll be expected to produce your own original content and respond to the needs and interests of our online readers.

The Editor would be responsible for designing and executing an editorial calendar of original content, with support from the other members of the artistic team.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone looking for the opportunity to put their own stamp on the editorial voice of a digital publication. We are planning on making updates to the site later this year, and the Editor would have the opportunity to play a key role in providing input for this redesign.

Key skills: Previous experience of writing original content is essential.

The right candidate will have excellent editing skills and a sharp eye for detail, as well as the creative vision required to deliver engaging content that is consistent with our brand. You must be highly motivated and to be able to work to tight deadlines. You’ll also need excellent communication skills in order to work well as part of our team and the content writers you will be looking after.

Previous experience of WordPress or other blogging software is expected.  An affinity for design and ability to use images and graphics effectively in their content would be highly desirable.

We would also be interested in hearing from someone with ideas about how to integrate other digital content (video, etc) into our editorial offerings, although creating written content currently makes up the primary responsibilities for this role.

You must be 18 or older to apply for this role.

What you’ll get out of it: 

  • The opportunity to put your creative stamp on LPB content and help steer the future direction of the blog
  • Access to a dedicated readership numbering of thousands
  • Experience commissioning content and working with other writers
  • A new platform for your own writing on London Playwrights’ Blog
  • An opportunity to expand your professional network, both online and through LPB events
  • First-hand experience working closely with the founders at a non-profit arts startup
  • The chance to make a genuine difference to people in the new writing community

Hours/Duration:  6-8 hours per week (approx).  The hours are flexible and designed to work around other professional and personal commitments, as the majority of the work can be completed from home. As long as deadlines are met, you can work when you please!

We are looking for someone who can commit to the role for at least six months and preferably someone who wants to make the role ‘their own’ and work with us on a permanent basis.

Payment: This post is unpaid. London Playwrights Blog is run on a voluntary basis by its staff and writers, and this currently applies to the Editor role as well.

What to submit:  Please send us:

  • Your CV
  • A cover letter explaining why you’re interested in working with LPB and why you think you’re right for the role
  • Three links to previous work/clippings demonstrating your experience

Please also include an equal opportunities monitoring form if you are comfortable supplying this information.  (Why do we ask for this information? Click if you’re curious!)

How to apply: Send your application materials to jobs@londonplaywrightsblog.com, including the job title in the email subject.

Because our website is essentially ‘the face’ of our organisation, it’s important that you can demonstrate a strong track record for creating high quality work. Should you be shortlisted, we’ll ask for a reference who can speak to your capabilities and strengths in these areas.  We may also ask you to complete a short written exercise.

Deadline: Friday 23 June 2017 at 5pm

(And for an inside look at what it’s like working with the LPB team, read this post from our former intern Hector Dyer about what really happens behind the scenes.)

Image: Aaron Mello