Category Archives: Original Content

LPW Online Book Club: Look Back in Anger

The LPW Online Book Club is just one of the things you can access if you become a member! Not a member yet? Well, if you want a jump start for your writing for the price of a cup of coffee, what are you waiting for? Sign up here today! (Want more reasons to join and a bit more info? Read this).

As a result of your feedback, we’ve changed the way we do book club, find out more here.

This month’s pick

For our September’s selection, we’re going to be reading Look Back in Anger John Osborne.

Why did we pick this?

Look Back in Anger is one of the big guns when it comes to British plays. Written in the 1950’s, it makes a strong comment on post-war Britain and marked a change in the direction of theatre at the time. It was also made into a popular film.

This is one of those plays that can be overlooked between the ‘classics’ and ‘contemporaries’ but every time you revisit it, you remember why it’s important. We’re really looking forward to the discussion that this one provokes.

How it works

All you need to do is read the play then head on over to our Members Facebook Group from the 15th of the month to join the discussion! Book club threads will be marked with the hashtag #bookclub, so it will be easy to find the discussion. Feel free to comment on existing threads or even start your own, the more discussion, the better!

Once the discussion is open  on our Facebook Group, it will stay there, so you can dip in and out throughout the rest of the month as much or as little as you like, whenever is convenient for you.

(Please note, to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t finished the play yet, any comments posted on our Facebook Group prior to 15th of each month will be deleted). 

Need a copy?

If you need to buy a copy, you can do so at the link below. (And if you buy through this Amazon Affiliate link, a small portion of the sale will go towards supporting LPW – at NO extra charge to you!)

Look Back in Anger (John Osborne)

Find out more and sign up to become a member here!

Image by University of Bristol via Flickr CC

 

Self-Producing: Tips for putting on a new writing night

Writer Samia Djilli shares her experiences of self-producing her own work, and looks into what it takes to create a night of new writing. 

Working in the arts is not an easy feat, especially for emerging artists. As an writer, you often have high expectations of yourself to wake up one day and create that one play that every theatre in town will be waiting to get their hands on. But something you quickly learn from working in the industry is that it isn’t always that simple.

When myself and my production company, Kine Productions, decided to put on a night of new writing, we were conscious that there would be a few variables to overcome. However with enough drive and dedication, self-producing can be one of the most rewarding ways to get your work on a stage. Here’s a few tips on how to do it and a few things to avoid along the way:

1. Work with others

Self-producing work by yourself is quite a daunting prospect, and in terms of budget, not always that plausible. Working with others is the most efficient way to go about putting your work on a stage.

One of the major pluses of working with others is that you’ll get to build a network of people around you and get their perspective on your work. As we all know, tunnel vision is a common side effect of being a writer but working with other creatives is a pretty good antidote.

Although it can be scary to put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to connect within your local community. Fear is one of the biggest things to hold us back but you’ll quickly find that there are plenty of people in the exact same situation as you. Not only that but you’ll get to learn new skills from those you work with and learn more about what you do and don’t enjoy as part of the process of self-producing.

2. Connect online

For a lot of people, the whole creative process of producing can seem alien. When I first started I felt way out of my depth. One thing that helped me was connecting online with theatre communities.

If you don’t know the first thing about putting on a night of new writing, contact your local theatre and ask them if you could come in and have a chat or even tweet them asking a few questions. It may sound simple but you’d be surprised how much clarity you can get simply through outreach alone.Don’t forget to use online resources. There are plenty of blogs, Twitter pages, webinars and Youtube videos all dedicated to educating you in the process of self-producing. With a bit of hunting around you’ll find the right avenue for you and start to build up your knowledge in no time.

3. Don’t be afraid to fail

This one is a hard one and I’ve definitely felt the backlash of when things go wrong. The thing about theatre is that it’s not a solid structure; pieces are always falling off and you’ll find yourself in a constant state of rebuilding. But that is simply the nature of how it works.

The trick is to try and be ready for when things go wrong. It may be that an actor drops out last minute or a director gets sick, these things are all common and they get easier the bigger your network becomes.

It takes practice and I’m still trying to master it myself, but don’t be afraid to get back up if it all falls to the ground.

4. Utilize your resources

One of the biggest struggles in self-producing is, and will always be budget. Having to empty your pockets to get something on a stage is not the biggest highlight of the experience and is something I’ve learnt not to do.

It may seem a little implausible but putting a play on for next to nothing is somewhat doable if you have a good team of people around you. In my experience a good team means people that will come together to use their resources so no one goes home with their pockets hurting.

One of the key things is to know what you want from a production. If you want the show on for a week, crowd fund a year in advance. Or if you want it on for one night, contact a bunch of theatres and see if any of them have a space you can use for a discounted price. With enough get-go you can find a way to make it work. It just takes time and a lot of patience.

There are plenty of things you can do to self-produce but as cliché as it sounds you really have to love what you do in order for it to work. If you enjoy what you’re doing you’ll be more willing to put the work in and in my experience that’s the best way to succeed.

Kine Productions show Remote will debut at Theatre503 Monday 20 August 2018 

You can find tickets here.

How to write about your own experiences

Editor Jennifer Richards reflects on writing a play where the subject matter’s close to you heart, looking at how to look after yourself when delving into personal experience.

The ‘write what you know’ cliché is often tossed around in articles about learning to be a writer, but sometimes creating a play about a personal experience you went through isn’t as easy as just following the cliché.

When I was writing my play All In Your Head, it was the first time I had written about my own experience, reflecting on the OCD and depression I suffered with as a teenager. I discovered the hard way that reliving negative experiences can take a lot of energy, both physically and emotionally.

If you’re thinking of drawing on personal experience for your next play, here’s what I learnt about looking after yourself in the process:

1. Don’t be in the eye of the storm

There was no way I could have written about my mental health experience if I was still had OCD or depression. I needed to feel enough distance from the subject matter so that my emotions wouldn’t cloud my judgment as a writer.

Even if the story you’re writing is a representation of you, it’s important to remember that you are still writing a story. And you want it to be best story it can be.

That means you have to look at what you’ve written objectively, and decide if each piece of dialogue is really beneficial to the play.

I wrote a very emotional scene that included dialogue lifted straight from a conversation I had years ago with my dad. And though I remember this as a significant conversation in my life, when I read it back, I realised that it didn’t move the plot on and was unlikely to be of any interest to the audience. So I had to cut it.

Remember when you do have to cuts dialogue or even scenes, this doesn’t mean you’re rewriting what you went through.

2. Be as honest as you’re comfortable with

You can write something that’s based on your experience without ever telling anyone it is. Very few people in my life knew the extent to which I suffered with OCD and I was nervous about saying that the play was based on my experience, and opening myself up in this way.

You shouldn’t feel any pressure to share personal information if you don’t want to, it won’t make the story any worse or better if you do.

It was actually only after completing All In Your Head that I decided I wanted to tell people it was a reflection of the mental health conditions I used to have. I realised that, through that play, I want to open up the conversation around mental health and also wanted to be a part of this conversation myself.

That’s why I decided I was comfortable enough to share the truth behind the play, but there may be times in the future when I don’t want to share that something I’ve written is based on things I’ve been through – and both reactions are absolutely fine.

3. Take someone to see it

This point isn’t just about bringing someone you know to see your play as a way to drum up audience numbers (though it all helps!), it’s actually about ensuring you’re taking care of yourself.

Seeing experiences you lived through acted out on stage can be quite emotional, and it can also bring up memories you long thought you’d dealt with and moved on from.

Be prepared for this, and bring a close friend or family member to opening night who is aware that the play is personal to you, and will consider how you feel first and foremost before they talk about whether they liked the play.

Asking the director to come along to a few rehearsals is also a good way of dipping your toe in the water and gradually introducing yourself to seeing such a personal piece.

4.  Reviews don’t invalidate your experience

This is another reason that it’s important to have distance between yourself and what you’re writing about. No matter how much work you put into your show, unfortunately someone is bound to not like it. And if you see a negative review either in a publication or just on Twitter, it can feel like a reflection on you when the story on stage is your own.

Remind yourself that the person is commenting on the fictional account on stage, they are not commenting on what you went through, and they are definitely not invalidating your experiences. No matter what anyone says about your play, that shouldn’t change how you view yourself or what you’ve dealt with.

Ultimately, be kind to yourself. If you’re writing about something personal, you shouldn’t be punishing yourself if you’re struggling to finish a scene, or if you’re perhaps not in the position where you want to share the piece yet.

Taking care of yourself should always be a priority, which is something we’re sadly not taught enough about in the arts. But as long as you do this, writing about something personal can in fact be a cathartic, positive experience.

Though you may be making yourself more vulnerable, that vulnerability translates to authenticity on stage, helping audiences to connect with the piece more, which theatre is all about.

Jennifer Richards’s show ALL IN YOUR HEAD is running at the Faversham Fringe from August 26th to 28th.

 

 

LPW Online Book Club – A Raisin in the Sun

The LPW Online Book Club is just one of the things you can access if you become a member! Not a member yet? Well, if you want a jump start for your writing for the price of a cup of coffee, what are you waiting for? Sign up here today! (Want more reasons to join and a bit more info? Read this).

As a result of your feedback, we’ve changed the way we do book club, find out more here.

This month’s pick

For our August selection, we’re going to be reading A Raisin In The Sun (Lorraine Hansberry)

Why did we pick this?

Set in Chicago, this play made its’ debut on Broadway in 1959. It might not be new , but the themes of race, class and family are just as relevant and moving today as when it was written.

There’s a real sense that the family in the play are trapped by circumstance: both economical and because of racial prejudice and the tension runs high throughout. However, there is also hope conveyed through the characters’ strong sense of ambition. If you’ve never read this one before, it really is worth a look!

How it works

All you need to do is read the play then head on over to our Members Facebook Group from the 15th of the month to join the discussion! Book club threads will be marked with the hashtag #bookclub, so it will be easy to find the discussion. Feel free to comment on existing threads or even start your own, the more discussion, the better!

Once the discussion is open  on our Facebook Group, it will stay there, so you can dip in and out throughout the rest of the month as much or as little as you like, whenever is convenient for you.

(Please note, to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t finished the play yet, any comments posted on our Facebook Group prior to 15th of each month will be deleted). 

Need a copy?

If you need to buy a copy, you can do so at the link below. (And if you buy through this Amazon Affiliate link, a small portion of the sale will go towards supporting LPW – at NO extra charge to you!)

 A Raisin In The Sun (Lorraine Hansberry)

Want to plan ahead?

Our next Book Club text will be: 

September: Look Back in Anger (John Osborne)

Find out more and sign up to become a member here!

Image courtesy of Danielle Closs via Flickr Commons 

LPB event: How to shape inspiration into an idea

Editor Jennifer Richards is recapping our practical workshop with  Kimberley Andrews at London Writers’ Week! Want to learn how to get your creative inspiration juices flowing? Read on… 

Getting excited about a story, and feeling like you just have to tell it, is a brilliant sensation. Feeling ideas bubbling up inside you, ready to spill onto the page.

But what about those times when you’re just staring at your computer (or typewriter if you’re old school), ready to write, and there’s not even a single spark of inspiration that’s coming to you?

Luckily Kimberley Andrews from London Playwrights’ Blog was on hand to help us all out with our creative inspiration during her workshop at London Writers’ Week.

She explained both how to get that first spark and, importantly, how to then shape it into an idea that can later become a story.

So here’s all her steps to help you banish that blank page and get back that wonderful feeling of having a story to tell:

1. Clear the cobwebs

Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing. Inspiration is refusing to strike, but a looming deadline means you really need to get on with it (*gulp*)

And that deadline is definitely not helping your stress levels. So in these moments, it’s good to get your brain into a different headspace; and doing a quick stream of consciousness scribble is a great way of doing that.

Starting her workshop this way, Kimberley got everyone’s creative juices flowing, with this simple exercise helping you let go of all the stresses that may have stopped you from feeling able to write.

After three minutes of scribbles, you’ll find your brain is in a different space and, hopefully, feeling a lot readier to write! It’s also a good idea to read back over your stream of consciousness and circle any ideas that may be of interest that you could return to later.

2. Let yourself experiment

Remember how you told stories as a child? Inventing crazy worlds and impossible scenarios that were never limited in how wild they could be? Do that again!

Kimberley got everyone to play the Consequences game, where each person in a group writes a different section of the story on one part of the paper, folding it as they go. Then when you open up the paper at the end, you’ve got a pretty bonkers story!

The great thing about doing this game is you feel completely free in what you’re writing, knowing it’s meant to be wacky, rather than worrying about creating an award-winning story.

Also the time pressure in a writing game is really useful, as it forces you to write anything down, not allowing you to procrastinate – which I’m guessing we’ve all been guilty of now and again?

See if you can get some friends, or family or your housemate to do a game of Consequences with you. And, if you’re home alone, why not try out the Headlines game Kimberley played with us next?

This game involves writing a bunch of themes down, like jealously or love, and cutting them all out into strips. Also print out a variety of news headlines, and then, pick one of the themes and one of the headlines (maybe pulling them out of a hat if you’re feeling adventurous!).

So have you got your theme and your headline?

Now try writing a play idea that could link both or, if that feels too difficult, maybe just try writing one line of dialogue or even a title of a play.

From Kimberley’s workshop, it was easy to see that even that smallest spark of an idea can light something much bigger if you give yourself some time to sit with the idea.

The best thing about the Headlines game is that it also pulls you out of your comfort zone as you’re forcing yourself to write about something you normally wouldn’t.

It sounds strange that constrictions could help improve your creativity, but it’s all about making your brain look at things differently.

3. Learn from others

No, this doesn’t mean directly stealing your ideas from others (wait, you’re telling me someone’s already done a film about two lovers aboard the Titanic? What?!).

It’s actually about finding ways to use another person’s creativity as a springboard for your own, without ripping off the Titanic (oops…)

During the workshop, we looked at film premises to see how they’re put together. We then used them to help us expand upon the stories we had already begun creating in the earlier games, by now making them into film premises.

Creating a film premise, or a book blurb, or a play text blurb, is a great step between having the initial idea and then actually writing the body of work. It doesn’t seem quite as daunting, but still helps you suss out the fundamental question of what the central conflict of your piece is about.

A film premise is essentially saying that “someone has to do something in order to…”, so have a go and fill that out for your idea.

Done it? Brilliant – onto the next stage!

4. Get feedback

After everyone had been silent, busy concentrating on creating their film premise, the room soon became full of chattering’s again as Kimberley got us all to pitch our films to each other.

We weren’t expecting to all get major film deals out of this (though how cool would it have been if Steven Spielberg was at our workshop?!), instead, it was just a great way of using feedback to shape our ideas even further.

By pitching to others, you have to zone in on what the heart of your piece is. You’re asking yourself what is the central idea in this story, why does it need to be told and, importantly, why does it need to told by you.

And, as well as helping you get to the heart of your story, chatting to others is a great way to soundboard ideas in general, if you’re not quite ready to do a film premise yet.

Whenever there’s something in one of my ideas that’s niggling away at me, making me feel like I can’t put it to page yet, I call my mum. I try explaining the idea to her, as that forces me to fill in the gaps my brain couldn’t work out. And whenever I finish chatting to her, I’ve always got a much more concrete story on my hands!

So, having started the workshop playing a children’s game, we had all left the session with a premise and a pitch.

Though the idea of waiting for creativity to strike and having your idea suddenly spill out of you sounds lovely, this is a bit of a romanticised idea of writing.

Sometimes you have to really work for the inspiration, and work even further to shape it into an idea. But when you’re playing children’s games, reading about your favourite films, and chatting to your friends, it honestly doesn’t really feel like work. And, best of all, you’re now ready to start writing the story!

LPB Event: How to take your story from stage to screen

Editor Jennifer Richards is recapping our practical workshop with  Freddie Machin at London Writers’ Week! Want to learn how to write for two different media? Read on…

“Nobody knows anything.”

Okay, so your workshop leader saying this is probably not how you want an event at London Writer’s Week to start, but it makes a lot more sense when it’s stage-writer turned screen-writer Freddie Machin quoting two-time Academy Award winner William Goldman.

Because even the people at the top of their field feel like they’re blagging it sometimes.  It’s about not letting ‘the fear’ stop you from trying something new, such as turning your stage play into a film.

And that’s exactly what the topic was of this London Writer’s Week event run by London Playwright’s Blog. And though Freddie may have said he doesn’t feel like the expert, I left the workshop excited to try a new form of writing I wasn’t used to, and knowing I had learnt some brilliant tips and tricks on how to put my best (screen-writer shaped) foot forward….

Wait! Hold up! I’m having major writer’s block!

Does turning your stage play into a film seem like jumping five, or five million, steps ahead? Let’s take a pause and go back to the initial ideas process. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s best to remember it’s all fun and games – quite literally!

At the workshop, Freddie got us to spark our imaginations by playing the ‘Anyone Who’ game. One person stands up in the middle and has to complete the ‘anyone who…’ sentence with something they’ve done, and whoever else in the room has also done it then has to stand up and they all have to swap seats – then it’s the turn of the last person standing and so on! For example, I might say anyone who writes blog posts while in their pyjamas (though *cough* I’m definitely not doing that right now *cough*)

After the game, everyone created a scenario from one of the ‘anyone who…’ sentences that were said, and this then became a scene with a set-up, complication and outcome. Suddenly, the room was buzzing with ideas!

And a lot of the participants found that the idea that came to them was something they never would have thought of if they’d just been staring at a blank page for hours.

Though you probably don’t have a whole room of people to play with when you’re writing, you can still do writing games on your own. Using images, free-writing, or even just picking up objects in your house and creating a scenario from that is a great way to spark that initial idea. Even if you think the idea isn’t that great, just write it down and see where it goes!

As Freddie told us: “You don’t have to have an idea for a story when you begin writing something. You can start from anywhere. And first ideas are always a bit raw and rough around the edges.”

And don’t let that pesky fear we were talking about earlier stop you. Freddie pointed out that: “The most important thing anyone should take away from a workshop is that you can write.”

So, considering that’s the most important thing, I could probably leave the piece here, but I think we should get onto tip number two…

But I don’t know what makes a great film great?

Pick your favourite film. Right now. Got it in your head? Now tell me what makes it a good story.

When Freddie did this with us, we realised how important relatability was – we always connect to the characters or the story in a really brilliant film. But maybe you come up with something different, though it most likely still links in with the idea of dramatic action.

Dramatic action means having conflict in your story; your character has to face obstacles and we get a sense of the character from how they respond to the conflict they face – as well as getting a gripping story!

That’s not too different from playwriting then, is it?

Storytelling is in everything really. Yes, plays and films, but also everyday things. We want to see dramatic action and the three act structure even when we watch a football game. No one wants their team to breeze to victory, we want to be on the edge of our seats, biting our nails as we watch them struggle against a brilliant team (and then we win, of course!)

You can even get dramatic action in the shortest of stories. Freddie got us all to watch the 2017 Waitrose Christmas advert. What initially seemed like your standard advert, once we started analysing it, then became a story full of tension, conflict, a climax, sub plot and character development – all in 90 sections!!

So the principles of storytelling may be similar in plays and films (and everything else), but Freddie noted that there was one distinct difference between writing in these two different media: the importance of structure.

Why does structure have to matter so much?

This is partly practical, as when you go into meetings about making a television series or a film, the big wigs will want to know structure and plot points down to a T, so these have to watertight, whereas you can be a bit more liberal when it comes to playwriting.

Here’s the typical film structure Freddie outlined:

ACT ONE

  • Routine; you see the character go about daily life as normal
  • Inciting incident; something happens that causes the paradigm to shift and the world will never be the same
  • Refuse the call to action; the protagonist refuses to do anything about the inciting incident
  • Point of no return; given circumstance forces the character to do something
  • Hero emerges; we find out which character will save us, usually meaning the protagonist has stepped up to the plate
  • ACT TWO; This act contains the sub-plots that lead to conflict in Act Three. Act Two doesn’t have a standardised structure, but the events in it have to happen for the crisis to take place later in the film

ACT THREE

  • Peak; everything is looking up and we think we’ve won
  • Crisis; the victory is snatched away from the protagonist
  • Climax; showdown, tension
  • Resolution; the payoff. However, some workshop participants pointed out that sometimes we don’t get the resolution, and the payoff comes in a slightly different form, such as the change in character relationships in the film Three Billboards. And Freddie added: “We are programmed to understand this structure of films, which gives us license to experiment with it sometimes, but this structure is the typical one.”

So I’ve written my stage play. But how do I change it into a screenplay?

Unfortunately it’s not a matter of just shifting around some of the dialogue. Freddie explained, “You need to work out what is at the heart of your story, what are you trying to say.” To do this, he gave the practical exercise of describing your play in eight words, then five and then one. A play needs to be broken down before we can build it back up into a film, which leads us onto the next tip…

What’s the biggest difference between playwriting and screenwriting?

It requires a change in thinking. Freddie noted: “If you’re writing for film, it’s predominately about images. Start thinking in pictures and not text.” Not concentrating on the words on the page may sound like an alienating thing for a writer (and it certainly did for me!), but Freddie’s explanation helped clarify it.

He described how the placement of scenes in a film is really the placement of images, which is why filmmaking is visual storytelling. If you look at the idea of the montage, you’re taking a neutral image and placing it next to another neutral image, and it’s only then that it creates meaning.

The example Hitchcock has talked about before is if you see the image of an old man smiling, it doesn’t mean anything; but if you then place it after an image of a girl in a bikini, the old man now becomes sleazy – we’ve learnt something important about our character without any words.

And adapting a play to screen is really about stripping away this dialogue. It’s a real shift in the brain to think in imagery and not verbally.

It was Freddie’s play Chicken that then got made into a film, with him also writing the screen play. And of his experience, he said: “My plays are very wordy and the film has hardly any words, you have to strip all the words away and tell the story visually; that’s the art of film making. Really, in beautiful storytelling, there needn’t be any words.”

This is where his points on structure and writing visually come together. He shared the advice his uncle, who is also a screenwriter, gave to him when he started adapting Chicken: “You have to write it so they can’t make it any other way.” This means your screenplay should be written in such a way that directors and producers can’t chop it up and move scenes around, as you’ve made it so the story needs certain images to be next to each other in to tell the story authentically.

So is it time to start writing my film?

Definitely! At it this workshop, it was fascinating to learn that these two different styles of writing require two very different parts of the brain. For plays, perfecting interesting dialogue is your most important role as a writer, and though structure is a part of the play-writing process, you can definitely take more risks with it.

But for films, you’re working in the world of images and need to look at how they slot and fit together, with the structure being vital – both to your audience, but also in terms of how you pitch it to those big wigs.

Looking back at the two scripts you’ve written, you should feel that your play would only work on stage, and your film needs to be shown at a cinema and in no other form. Use what’s different about the two mediums to your advantage.

Who knows, maybe you’ll soon find yourself blagging your way through the film industry as a two-time Academy Award winner who understands that nobody really does know anything.

Summer Sessions: Online Workshops from LPB this August!

When the sun comes out and the nights get longer, it’s easy for your writing to take a backseat – after all, who wants to be cooped up behind their laptop when they could be out enjoying some rare British sunshine? So, to help you keep up the writing momentum, we’ll be bringing you a series of online mini-workshops throughout August.

The workshops will be exclusively available for our members. If you’re not a member yet, read more here and you can sign up for around the price of a coffee per month.

Summer Session 1: Overcoming writers’ block

The sun is shining, the park (or pub!) is calling and every time you look at your laptop screen you see a terrifying empty void. Sound familiar? Then don’t miss this selection of tips and exercises to help you to overcome writers’ block and boost your creativity!

When: available from Friday 3 August 2018

Summer Session 2: How to write a monologue 

We’ve all seen the competitions asking for monologues but how do you know what to submit? In this session, we’ll explore what makes a great monologue, work through some inspirational exercises and get you writing some submission worthy speeches this summer!

When: available from Friday 17 August 2018

Summer Session 3: Promoting yourself as a writer

Before you go all ‘back-to-school’ and start prepping that big Autumn project, why not spend a bit of time thinking about how to get yourself noticed as a writer? In this session, we’ll look at the nitty gritty of self-promotion for writers including writing brilliant bios to what not to say on application forms.

When: available from Friday 31 August 2018

How to participate: to access the workshops, members simply need to visit the members site on or after the dates published below. The workshops will remain live during August and beyond – so don’t worry if you’re taking a break over the summer, you can pick them up whenever is convenient for you.

LPB Memberships: One Year On!

Can you believe it has been a whole year since we launched our members website?  Here co-founder, Kimberley Andrews, reflects on the past year, talks about the overwhelming support received from members, and discusses what’s next for LPB…

Why did we launch our membership scheme?

In the summer of 2017, A.C Smith and I knew that we were at a crossroads with LPB. We’d had a fantastic four years supporting an incredible range of emerging writers and watching our community grow. However, it had been quite a challenge!

As our work grew, we needed the infrastructure to support it. And, despite the fact that our team worked on a volunteer basis, it was still really hard to find the funds to cover our basic costs (all the boring stuff like accounting fees, web hosting and insurance really adds up!).

We knew we had to do something radical if we were to continue in our quest to support the next generation of playwrights but we also felt strongly that, as the ‘bread and butter’ of our work, the resources on the London Playwrights’ Blog site should remain free.

That’s how we came up with the idea of asking our subscribers to help support us and in return, we’d offer them some exciting new content –  and with that, our members site was born!

What has the response been like?

It’s been incredible! We weren’t sure how it would go down – it’s never easy to ask people for money and accessibility really is at the heart of what we do; after all, as playwrights ourselves, we know how hard a world it is to break into.

We set the price as low as we could, at around the price of a coffee per month, with the option for writers to pay more if they wanted to/ could.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received in the past year and as we edge towards having 300 hundred members, we’re hoping this is a sign that we’ll be able to keep growing, and keep expanding on the work we do for writers.

What have we achieved this year?

In January, we ran #WrAP2018. a challenge for our members to write a play in a month.  Over 150 writers took part and we were ecstatic to hear that many of you actually completed  first drafts or at least did the groundwork for developing a new idea.

We’re currently running an online re-drafting course and an online book club to encourage writers to read more plays. We’ve also had lots of members take us up on the reduced rate for our script consulting service and we’ve seen some really exciting writing as a result of this.

One of our best achievements has been building a community of playwrights, both online and in person at some of our fantastic LPW member meetups. It’s amazing to see writers come together and how they flourish when given support from their community – it really feels as though we’re at the start of a big movement for playwrights, and hopefully that’s something we can continue to nurture.

And last but not least, through the support we’ve received from our members, we’ve been able to continue the work we do at LPB, bringing you the latest playwriting opportunities for free.

What’s next for our members?

We’ve got a series of mini online workshops coming up designed to keep people writing during the summer lull (if you’re anything like us, writing somehow ends up taking a back seat when the sun is shining!) and then in Autumn we’ve got a longer course coming up which looks at writing in regional dialect in detail.  We’re currently working on the rest of our Autumn programme and developing other new exciting content for our members, so watch this space!

In terms of our bigger ambitions, we plan to keep building our online resources, expand on the variety of courses we’re offering, and to  further support writers in their journey to getting their work produced. The bottom line is though, the more support we get, the more we can do, so please join up if you can!

And if you are thinking of signing up, you should know that all previous content stays up on the members site, so you won’t have missed out on things like #WrAP and the re-drafting course if you join now.

What would we like to say to members?

THANKS! And we mean that from the bottom of our hearts! The support you’ve given us over the past year has been phenomenal and it has allowed us to keep doing the work we do to support  emerging playwrights just like you. It’s been so inspiring to have so many of you on board with an idea we’re really passionate about, and we really do appreciate every single one of you.

What can you do support us?

Become a member! And if you already are, then stay with us! You can also support us by doing your Amazon shopping through our affiliate links, coming along to our workshops, choosing us for script consulting,following us on Twitter, and by spreading the word about our work to anyone who will listen!

London Playwrights’ Blog is at London Writers’ Week next week! Check out the details here. 

Image via MattysFlicks Flickr CC

Become a member here!

Working class voices: vibrancy, determination and finding inspiration in the ordinary

The lack of working class voices in UK theatre at the moment finally seems to be coming to the forefront of discussion, with theatres such as the Royal Court attempting to address the issue.

 

In this guest post, playwright Joanne Sherryden reflects on being a working class writer, talks about why we need to hear working class voices and shares some advice…

“Writing about working class characters and their stories wasn’t something I did consciously. It’s just what I did.”

Until recently, it genuinely never actually occurred to me that I was a ‘working class’ writer. Writing about working class characters and their stories wasn’t something I did consciously. It’s just what I did. These are the voices that I hear in my head. Their stories are the stories that I want to tell.

For me, I believe that theatre, like all art, should represent the full spectrum of society. Nothing thrills me more than seeing, characters on stage who speak like me and tell stories about people where I come from. Not literally, although that’s great, as well. But I’m talking about working class characters worldwide. Their stories, when told well, are universal. And I have to say most of these characters don’t happen to be racist, scrounging, uncultured, thugs. And they tend not to be victims, either. They have an energy, vibrancy, dynamism and visceral drive that, for me, is life affirming. These characters come more from the heart, rather than the head. Soul music, rather than classical. I love the poetry and bite of their language. The colloquialisms, the slang, the banter. I’m not gonna lie – I also love a cheeky swearword. I think there’s an art to swearing. Just as I disagree that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit – I love a sarcky put down, I also think there can also be a sublime eloquence to a perfectly placed swear word.

“Nothing is wasted. Life experience fuels my writing”

I’ve been asked if I have any advice to give other writers. I am the last person to give advice! But I would say if you have to write, you will write. I would also say writing is hard. But it’s meant to be hard. Get used to it. Like most people, I don’t have a trust fund, so I also work a ‘normal job’ and I have two children. Although my life is busy and can get in the way of my writing, I’ve also learned that nothing is wasted. Life experience fuels my writing. The main protagonist in my play, Lia, was inspired by someone I met at a bus stop on my way to one of my many crappy jobs.

“Send your stuff out.”

I sent my play Mermaids out in response to a call out for working class writers – and now it’s being produced. There is no way I would ever have been able to afford to produce my work in London. But it all started because one person, our director, Shiv, read my play and liked it. It’s now being produced in an Off West End Theatre with all creatives being paid on an Equity Scale. Hat’s off to the King’s Head who put their money where their mouth is.

“Believe in yourself”

Finally, believe in yourself. Of course you’ll have days when you think you’re crap. But overall, you have to believe you have something to say and a unique way of saying it. Cos if you don’t believe it, no one else will.

Joanne’s play, Mermaids takes place from Monday 2 July 2018 – Friday 6 July 2018 at the King’s Head Theatre and is directed by Siobhan James-Elliott. Find out more and book tickets here.

LPW Online Book Club – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The LPW Online Book Club is just one of the things you can access if you become a member! Not a member yet? Well, if you want a jump start for your writing for the price of a cup of coffee, what are you waiting for? Sign up here today! (Want more reasons to join and a bit more info? Read this).

As a result of your feedback, we’ve changed the way we do book club, find out more here.

This month’s pick

For our July selection, we’re going to be reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare.

Why did we pick this?

Well, it’s summer isn’t it?! And we thought this light-hearted comedy would be the perfect accompaniment to the sunny weather and longer days.

There’s so much to like about this play, from fairies to magic to unrequited love to a man turning into a donkey (stay with us!) Perhaps down to the comedic themes, this feels like one of Shakespeare’s more accessible plays and is a really good one to read if you want to explore his work and style in an enjoyable way.

How it works

All you need to do is read the play then head on over to our Members Facebook Group from the 15th of the month to join the discussion! Book club threads will be marked with the hashtag #bookclub, so it will be easy to find the discussion. Feel free to comment on existing threads or even start your own, the more discussion, the better!

Once the discussion is open  on our Facebook Group, it will stay there, so you can dip in and out throughout the rest of the month as much or as little as you like, whenever is convenient for you.

(Please note, to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t finished the play yet, any comments posted on our Facebook Group prior to 15th of each month will be deleted). 

Need a copy?

If you need to buy a copy, you can do so at the link below. (And if you buy through this Amazon Affiliate link, a small portion of the sale will go towards supporting LPW – at NO extra charge to you!)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Want to plan ahead?

Our next Book Club texts will be: 

August: A Raisin In The Sun (Lorraine Hansberry)

September: Look Back in Anger (John Osborne)

Find out more and sign up to become a member here!

 

Image courtesy of Dimitris Kamaras via Flickr Commons