Category Archives: Original Content

Wrap Diary Week 2 – What Happens Next?

Our Editor, Jennifer Richards, has taken up the challenge to write a play in a month as part of our #WrAP initiative. With Week Two done, she’s trying not to panic knowing she’s half way through…

Writing a whole play in a month means not a lot of planning can go into the project. This meant the only thing I knew about my play going into it was the way I wanted it to start and the way I wanted it to end. This week was all about figuring out what’s going to happen in between the two (nothing major then…)

So it was perfect timing for me that this week’s #WrAP was about creating engaging characters, and the obstacles and challenges they face. The advice and tips we got this week showed me just how important it is for you as a writer to really know your character inside and out, especially if you hope for your audience to really engage with them.

So I gave each of my characters a simple, bullet-pointed profiles to make sure I knew everything about them – who they are, their background, the obstacles and difficulties they face throughout the play, and even information about them that will never even feature in the play.

Giving my characters profiles made me realise that the way I had planned to resolve the story wasn’t true in terms of how these characters would act. That end I was so set on? It’s now become something entirely different.

I know it sounds ridiculous to let your characters dictate the story you tell – surely that’s my job as the writer – but I think it’s vital to listen to your characters if you want to tell a story that’s authentic and that your audience will connect with.

Though we’re half way through #WrAP, I need to hold my hands up and say I’m definitely not half-way through my script. But now I’ve laid that ground work (figuring out what my play is about and meeting your characters), things are bound to accelerate and go a lot faster.

#WrAP has also dramatically changed the way I write, and for the better. Not having the time to plan this script in the way I normally would meant I felt happy to change what I was writing. This has left me with a much more believable story, even if I am writing a play about robots…

I’d love to know how #WrAP’s been going for you, both the successes and the things you’ve been struggling with. Tweet us at @LDNPlaywrights using #WrAP2018 and let me know.

And if you haven’t signed up for #WrAP yet but would love to still take part and get going on your 2018 writing goals, you can find out more about how to become a member of LPB and join in with the initiative here.

Roll on Week Three!

 

 

 

Five Top Tips For Co-Writing A Play

With playwriting being seen as a solitary activity, what changes when you form a writing partnership? In this guest post, playwright Tamara von Werthern discusses all she learnt about co-writing for her new play JACKPOT.

It’s not always easy to write plays, is it?

You need to come up with an interesting story, invent characters, write scenes, keep the storyline in mind, write more scenes, make your characters believable and bring them to life and then, you guessed it, write more scenes. And when you finished the first draft you need to rewrite it and change everything you just did!

Most importantly, throughout this process, you have to keep faith in what you’re doing, even if it’s just the belief that you will be able to finish the damn thing.

And being a part of a writing partnership, especially in these early stages of development, can be incredibly helpful in keeping the faith going. This is because it’s no longer just you believing in and championing the project.

I have always thought of writing as a solitary experience, but since I recently ended up co-writing a piece for the first time, I’ve had the eye-opening experience of the benefits co-writing can bring to the writing process.

As a converted co-writer, I thought I’d put together some top tips on how to make this process as smooth as possible:

1- Pick your partner wisely

My co-writing partner was an old friend, Jack Hughes. We had been working together for years but never written together. The play we ended up creating, JACKPOT, was born like most good things are – at a night out in a pub.

Jack and I were talking about a number of things, including our frustration at a whole generation being priced out of London and home ownership becoming a distant dream. So we had the same thought all playwrights do: “You know what we should do? We should write about that.”

Tamara and her writing partner Jack

Co-writing was great: it took a lot of the doubt out of the equation and gave both of us a structure to work with. If you know that your writing partner is waiting for the next scene, it gives you a certain drive to keep going.

But as much as I enjoyed co-writing, that isn’t to say I would be able to co-write with everyone and anyone. It’s not always easy to find someone whose thinking gels enough with your own to make a coherent whole.

You want to avoid ending up with a Frankenstein-type script, so you need to choose someone who writes both in a similar style to you and also uses the same process.

2- Keep communicating

Jack started off the writing on the tube on his way home, and presented me the next morning with the first building block and the first two characters, Sarah and Hal.

He sent me three pages of dialogue and I took it from there. I wrote another three pages and sent it back to him. Then he picked off where I had left it and then we played ping pong across London, writing alongside both raising our young families.

Though we barely met, we spoke by phone and by email, ensuring we were still on the same page (even if we were writing different ones…) and it gave us a chance to raise any concerns before either one of us had got too far with our writing.

3- Remember it’s a partnership

The difficult thing was the editing. If you write by yourself and you’re not happy with a phrase or a paragraph, you cut it. You don’t have to consult with anyone, you are solely responsible for the outcome and you’re not accountable to anyone. This changes when you collaborate. You can’t simply take something out if you don’t like it.

But also don’t be afraid to raise something you want to change with your writing partner. And don’t be offended if they want to debate something you have written. Feedback is one of the main benefits of co-writing, so make use of it!

4- Try to hear the play out loud

This goes for any production, but the danger of co-writing is that you both become so immersed in the world of the play that neither of you can see the bits that don’t quite make sense.

Try and secure a reading to introduce another voice into your partnership – it’ll show you things you had both become oblivious to.

The cast of JACKPOT

We were incredibly lucky to be offered support from London College of Music (LCM) with the development. They were looking for new writing to work on with their students, so I sent the play in and we got the gig.

It was for a week’s development work with third year acting students and a public reading at the end. I asked Lily McLeish, who had directed my previous play, THE WHITE BIKE, and she was happy to be involved with the process.

We were also lucky to receive Arts Council Funding, which allowed both Jack and myself to take time off work and actually be in the room together for the first time. Finally working on the piece face-to-face was amazing.

During that week we found time to explore the world of the play  with the actors, do detailed questioning of the script and write up all the facts and questions arising from it. We drew connections we hadn’t seen before and dared to make the piece even darker and funnier than it had been before.

Remember that co-writing doesn’t mean the script has to involve just you and your writing partner(s). Don’t be afraid to widen the collaboration, which leads us nicely onto…

5- Get feedback outside of each other

At the reading, we left feedback forms for the audience and received twenty-seven filled out forms at the end of the night. Twenty-seven! All of them said they would love to see it in a full production and all of them had useful and concise feedback on what was not yet clear to them in the script.

This feedback fed back into our next round of rewrites, getting us ready to present the finished play in a final public reading.

The reading of JACKPOT

But how do I find a co-writer?

Hopefully this has got you thinking that co-writing sounds great. But you may not be sure where to begin finding a co-writer. You could advertise on platforms like London Playwrights’ Blog , or you could join a writing group or workshop and find someone you work well with there. Or, like me, consider ringing up an old friend. I can really recommend it!

A public reading of JACKPOT, a pitch black comedy about the housing crisis, will take place at The Hackney Attic on 24 January. You can get tickets here.

 

 

#WrAP Diary Week One – Where To Begin?

Our Editor, Jennifer Richards, has taken up the challenge to write a play in a month as part of our #WrAP initiative. With Week One done, she checks in on how it’s going so far…

Something that’s really stuck with me was from the first day of #WrAP, when we were asked ‘Why do you want to write this play now?’

That question has led me to write my first play about my disability (and robots!); it made me realise that I want to write a story I feel it’s important for me to tell and for others to hear, which is making me much more motivated as it feels more urgent and important than any other story I’ve told.

Though my normal writing strategy involves a lot of post it notes and covering my walls in scene details, when you’ve got to write a whole play in a month, all time for planning goes out the window!

Instead it’s straight onto writing the first scene. This was difficult for me as openings have always been something I’ve struggled with. I want to make sure my audience get to know my character but without turning the opening scene into a Q&A…

So #WrAP’s top tips for an opening gave me a great starting point for how to even tackle this first scene. (I mean it’s what’s going to convince a Literary Manager to either kept reading or give up – so no pressure then!)

Instead of providing context or background information, I just decided to drop my audience straight into the middle of the scene with no explanation. Usually I would want to make it obvious what characters’ roles are & even where and when the play is set.

Yet this time I steered clear of all that and instead just let the audience learn what the main character was like by how she reacted from the situation. I didn’t even make it clear who she was, instead only dropping small hints to encourage someone to keep reading (or watching!)

This approach is certainly new to me but means the story is coming a lot more organically – which is impressive considering it’s a play about robots set in a future universe…

Not planning means I haven’t entrapped myself into having to tell a certain story I’d already decided on; rather I can tell the story that feels right both for me and for the character.

 

I’d love to know how #WrAP’s been going for you, both the successes and the things you’ve been struggling with. Tweet us at @LDNPlaywrights using #WrAP2018 and let me know.

And if you haven’t signed up for #WrAP yet but would love to still take part and get going on your 2018 writing goals, you can find out more about how to become a member of LPB and join in with the initiative here.

Roll on Week Two!

Introducing My WrAP Diary!

The New Year is almost upon us, and the chance for some new goals. For us, it’s all about writing more! That’s why we’re launching Write A Play – or WrAP.

This month we’ll be posting a whole host of writing prompts, exercises and resources to guide you through the process of getting your first draft on paper. So by the end of January, you’ll have a wonderful new play under your belt!

And here at LPB we’re doing it right alongside side you. As Editor, I frequently get to write about brilliant playwrights and their work, but now it’s time to write a full-length play myself!

I can’t wait to take part in WrAP and I’ll be posting my weekly diary about what I’ve enjoyed (and the things I’ve struggled with…) right here on the blog.

It’d be wonderful to create a fabulous community of writers all taking part in this initiative, and my diary’s a way of us reflecting on the process.

If you want to take part in WrAP, participation is free, but you need to be a LPB member. Find out how to sign up here.

Keep your eyes peeled for my first diary post soon…

Six Playwrights On What Theatre Should Look Like in 2018

The theatre industry has seen a lot of change this year, and the Royal Court’s ‘No Grey Area’ highlighted just how much change still needs to happen. Though it was sadly awful circumstances that triggered this conversation, we’re glad that we are finally starting to have an open dialogue. In continuation with that principle, we wanted to hear from some of the most exciting playwrights working right now about what changes they want to see to the theatre industry next year.

CHRIS DAVIS

Chris Davis is a playwright, director & one of the Artistic Directors at Full Disclosure, a theatre company committed to exploring LGBTQ+ narratives. Their new showcase of stories is happening on 11 February 2018 at Southwark playhouse.

“It would be great to see more LGBTQ+ stories and characters on mainstream stages, and exploring issues and ideas that need more awareness. Such as male on male violence, non-binary and transgender characters, and more discussion around sex education in schools for young gay people. Positive representation is key, with stories that can encourage and inspire, but it’s important also not to be afraid to address hard to talk about topics head on.”

JAMES FRITZ

James Fritz’s radio play COMMENT IS FREE won both the Imison & the Tinniswood Awards at the BBC Audio Drama Award this year. His play PARLIAMENT SQUARE won the Judges’ Award in the 2015 Bruntwood Prize & is currently showing at Bush Theatre.

“I hope we’ll see a reappraisal at all levels of the way we make work – and the hierarchies involved – and how that might have helped facilitate a lot of problematic and abusive behaviour.

I’d like to see more rehearsal time for new plays, to encourage a sense of play and allow theatres to take risks on a more diverse range of voices, lessening the reliance on the small pool of writers who get the play ‘ready’ by day one of rehearsal.

We also need more simultaneous productions of new plays in different parts of the country. No one quibbles at two simultaneous Hamlets, but we don’t see two productions of The Children or Anatomy of A Suicide. It would allow more communities into the conversations around those plays and make theatre feel less exclusive.”

LYNETTE LINTON

Lynette is the young associate director at Gate Theatre & is resident assistant director at Donmar Warhouse. Her play #HASHTAGLIGHTIE just completed it’s second run at the Arcola Theatre after returning from its first sell-out run.

“In 2018, I want to see more diversity across all sectors of the theatre industry, that includes sound designers, lighting designers, production managers, stage managers…. (I could go on.)

I want us to keep pushing. Pushing the boundaries, pushing the conversations and the stories that we are telling. Push for new audiences and more representation on the stage. Keep challenging and question as much as possible. Personally I think James Baldwin says it best, ‘Artists are here to disturb the peace. They have to disturb the peace. Otherwise, chaos.’

SARAH MCDONALD-HUGHES

Sarah is an actor & writer from Manchester. She is also the co-Artistic Director of Monkeywood Theatre. Her play SHERBET, co-written with Curtis Cole, won the 2017 National Octagon Prize and will be produced at the Octagon Theatre in Spring 2018.

“I hope that the action that has been kick started following the appalling revelations about sexual harassment and abuse within the industry leads to real change.

I hope that there’s a bit of a dent made in the embarrassing statistics about female representation on and offstage and to see real diversity across casts and creative teams.

I hope that the brilliant work being done by companies and artists outside of London gets the recognition, attention and coverage it deserves.

Finally, I hope to see a play that takes my breath away and makes my heart stop – in 2017, that was Our Town at the Royal Exchange.”

AMY NG

Amy is a British-Hong Kong playwright who is under commission to the RSC, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Yellow Earth Theatre, & feminist theatre company Dangerous Space. Her play ACCEPTANCE will run at Hampstead Theatre in March 2018.

“That Britain has never properly come to terms with empire — neither acknowledging the harm, nor grieving the loss — is one of the driving forces behind Brexit ‘Empire 2.0’.  I’d love to see more plays wrestling with empire and its legacy— also from the point of view of the colonised. [I would also like] more international collaboration.  With the borders closing, theatres need to establish and embed within the industry mechanisms and forums for cultural exchange across borders.

And finally, intersectionality. These last couple of years have seen a surge in feminist plays, and plays from and about marginalised (by ethnicity, region, sexual orientation, disability and class) communities.  I’d like to see more plays about what it means when all these different identities intersect, overlap and clash.”

TAMARA VON WERTHERN

Tamara is the founder of Fizzy Sherbet theatre company which displays new writing by women. Her show THE WHITE BIKE had a successful run at The Space in 2017 & she is currently developing her next play JACKPOT with support from Arts Council England.

“I would love to see the work of more women playwrights being performed in bigger venues and for longer runs. Having set up Fizzy Sherbet in January 2017 we have noticed a definite knock-on effect staging women’s writing has on other areas of the industry too. We staged 19 short plays written by women and this naturally translated into a ratio of two women for each man on stage.

I also feel strongly that theatre should reflect the world around us and I want to see plays that make sense of the world, or hold a mirror up to it in some way. But they have to take me on an emotional journey. I want to feel changed and affected by what I see on stage.”

We’d love to know what you want to see in theatre in 2018. Tweet us @LDNPlaywrights using #futuretheatre to let us know your thoughts. Let’s keep the conversation going.

How to reinvent a classic play while telling your own story

Theatre seems to have a constant loop of classic plays being shown, with our love of Shakespeare never wavering. But with these stories being told a hundred times over, is it possible for a theatre-maker to take the play and tell us something new? 

Shakespeare is usually a person’s first introduction to theatre when you find yourself frantically learning quotes for tomorrow’s English Literature exam. But for many theatre-makers, the love (or occasional hatred) for Shakespeare and other classics doesn’t end there. Some writers look beyond restaging to find ways to take existing classics and turn them into something new.

Reinventing a classic could mean taking a piece and using the exact same dialogue but staging it in a new and exciting way – this is a common director-led approach. For writers, it could mean translating the original story into the playwright’s specific language; or it could even mean just using the classic idea as a springboard for an entirely new play. But for any new interpretation, the question is the same: how do you reinvent a classic play while telling your own story?

As a playwright who has only dealt with new work, I thought it best to turn to some experts for advice in answering this question.

One such expert is Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir, the co-adaptor and director of a one-woman show of Richard III that was recently shown at the Hope Theatre.

He pointed out just how important it is to look at what’s happening in the world when choosing which classic you want to engage with. Sigfusdottir noted that we return to certain plays again and again, simply because they feel relevant once more, meaning a modern audience will connect with them in (hopefully) a new way.

 

Emily Carding – the sole performer of this re-imagining of Richard III

“A financial crash puts light on how we treat our fellow humans when they suddenly run out of money, [so] we stage Timon of Athens. If a discussion is ongoing about domestic violence in our society, we might return to Taming of the Shrew.

“When we are exposed to a war, with non-stopping violence on both sides, we might find Romeo and Juliet incredibly relevant. I think we as theatre makers have to have a current context in mind for a classical work to hit home with an audience.”

Ignace Cornelissen is another theatre-maker who’s no stranger to re-inventing classics. His adaptation of Othello for a younger audience will premiere at the Unicorn Theatre next year, and they have previous produced three other plays by Cornelissen based on Shakespeare.

 

With having returned to Shakespeare’s work so much, yet constantly finding new ways to tell these stories, I asked Cornelissen: how do you get your own voice across in a play that’s a retelling of someone else’s work?

“The original material is not sacred. It is the basis of an inspiration, but the important impetus in the creation of the new piece is your own feelings and imagination. The classical text you use is merely a springboard for a new piece of art,” Cornelissen says.

He adds, “It’s important for a playwright interested in adapting the classics to have a deep affinity or love for the original material.

“Secondly, you have to be sure that the themes you are interested in as an artist are there in the original. You borrow, as it were, a story and characters from an existing play and you get to work on the creation of something new.”

Another classic that always gets the modern day treatment!

Sigfusdottir agrees with Cornlissen about the importance in loving the text you choose to re-interpret.

“Know why you have chosen this particular classic as a vehicle for the story you want to tell. What elements within it are of particular interest to you? What connotations does the classic evoke in the audiences’ minds already?

“How can you use that to your advantage? Do you want to change their minds about something in particular within this story? Why? How do you best achieve this? And the classic question, why this story now?”

If you can answer all of those questions, you’re well on your way to producing a compelling interpretation of a classic. Whether you’re reimagining Shakespeare or creating an original piece of new writing, the focus is still the same: you have to discover how the story connects to you and to other people today, and hopefully it will speak to your audience enough to get them into the theatre.

Write A Play this January with #WrAP initiative!

Is your New Year’s Resolution to write more? Kickstart your writing goals with LPW, and sign up for #WrAP!  

You CAN write a play this January

What if we said you could write a play – YES a whole play – this January? Well, you can if you take part in Write a Play – or #WrAP as we’ll be calling it!

January is a time for new beginnings and new goals. Whilst taking up Badminton or signing up for ukulele lessons might make you feel accomplished, it won’t help you improve your playwriting skills – but actually doing some writing will! And we’re here to help.

Throughout the month we’ll be posting a whole host of writing prompts, exercises and resources to guide you through the process of getting your first draft on paper.

That’s impossible!

Maybe. Maybe not. It depends how dedicated you are about getting to the end of your script.

We were inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where each November writers take on the challenge of completing the first draft of a novel.

Writers who sign up for this challenge commit to writing a whopping 50,000 words in a month.

Considering that a stage play usually runs to a maximum of 10,000 words, we have full confidence you can do this. (And even if you don’t quite get to the end of your story, you’re guaranteed to have a lot more material to work with than if you never even tried.)

And remember, ultimately you can set the goal that works for you. Sounds a bit full on with your other commitments? Don’t worry. #WrAp is all about writing as much as you can manage in January; if you finish your play, great, if you only write 20 pages, also great – that’s 20 more pages than you had at the beginning of January.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who wants to write a play.

It might be your first play, it might be your fiftieth.

You don’t need to be based in London – this will all be happening online!

All that matters is that you want to join in and challenge yourself to write your play in January.

Wow. That sounds great. It must be really expensive.

NOPE!  Participation is FREE – but you have to be an LPW member.

If you want to participate in #WrAP, firstly, you’ll need to become a LPB member (read more about why here).

The good news is, that this costs around the same price per month as cup of coffee and by joining us you’ll really be helping us to support the next generation of playwrights (including you). You’ll also be getting access to some exciting member benefits.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll get access to our exclusive members website and Facebook group and everything you need to take part in WrAP – more details on this below!

How does it work?

Throughout January, we’ll share regular writing prompts, exercises and online mini-workshops. These are all designed to support you in writing your play.

All the materials will be sent directly to your email inbox. (These will also posted online for easy reference if you want to look back at something that came before.)

The resources will take you chronologically through the playwriting process. We’ll kick off with looking at how to develop your idea and end with writing your final scene.

There will also be the opportunity for online discussion with fellow #WrAP writers (and us!) via our Members Facebook group, with scheduled sessions where you can ask questions or share concerns.

How do I sign up?

It’s super easy:

  1. Log on to our members site (if you need to join first, you can do so here).
  2. Go to the #WrAP Initiative page (note: you’ll need to be logged in as a member to access this).
  3. Sign up for the dedicated #WrAP email list.
  4. Check your inbox and click the confirmation link that you want to join.

That’s it!

Once you’re signed up, you’ll automatically receive all the emails and information when the initiative begins. (Keep your eyes peeled for a bit of inspiration that will be coming your way in late December!)

Privacy guarantee: this email will only be used for our 2018 #WrAP initiative. We don’t sell or share these, and won’t use it to send you anything you haven’t asked for.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up today!

We’ll see you in January for some serious playwriting!

Festive Gift Guide 2017 – the best gifts for writers

Are you struggling to think of a fabulous festive gift for the writer in your life? I mean, apart from their laptop, what does a playwright even need these days? Well, look no further than our annual gift guide for writers, handpicked by the LPB team. From luxury splurges to notebooks that are almost too nice to write in to practical stocking fillers, we’ve got all bases covered. And, if you’re a writer hoping not to receive a pair of socks and a dodgy bath set this year, feel free to use this list as a subtle hint for your nearest and dearest! You’re welcome.

Also, did you know, that by shopping through the links provided in this list, you can help support LPB at absolutely no extra cost to you?  We’ve provided links to everything we’ve recommended here using the Amazon Affiliates scheme. Even if you DON’T buy the original item (and purchase something different ), if you click through any of our links to access the Amazon website, we’ll get a small percentage of the sale to help us keep running the blog, and it won’t cost you anything extra.  So if you are planning on shopping at Amazon this festive season, we’d really appreciate it if you clicked through from here first! Thanks!

Here are our handpicked gifts for writers in 2017:

1. Quality Notebooks


Ok, so notebooks feature on our list every year, but not only are they a necessity, they can also make a really great gift.  Scribbling down ideas in a nice notebook (rather than a boring  jotter pad) can feel like a real treat.

These Leather Notebooks from Luxelu London (£21.95) won’t let you down.

For some fun options, check out the NPW Spiralbound Notebook (£7.50) at the top of this section or a gorgeous and colourful selection by Notebook Love (£9.79).

And if all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a Moleskine Notebook  (£13.74).

2. Creative Pens

Another obvious choice but, stay with us here: pens don’t have to be boring. We have a particular soft spot for Cross, who helped sponsor our 2015 Dark Horse Festival in London Writers’ Week; Cross Pens (£32.98) like the one pictured above give jewellery a run for its money in the meaningful gift stakes.

And, if you don’t want to break the bank, the Parker Jotter Pens (£11.99) are available in a range of colours and come in a snazzy gift box.

Or if you’re looking for a stocking filler, these Fun Maze Pens (£2.95) make for a distracting novelty gift!

3. The greatest gift of all:
Membership to London Playwrights’ Workshop!

Want a gift that keeps on giving? Sign up for an annual membership for London Playwrights’ Workshop and have access to exclusive member benefits for the whole year. Benefits include access to our New Year’s Writing Jumpstart (details to be announced soon!), online resources, member meetups, discounted course bookings, playwrights’ book club, support from our growing online community – and you’ll also be helping to support us to continue doing great work for playwrights. 🙂

You can sign up for monthly membership via the link below:

www.londonplaywrights.org/join

If you’re interested in gifting an annual membership, email us at members@londonplaywrights.org and we’ll be happy to help!

4. Into the Woods (*2015 & 2016 Top Seller*)

Structure is an ongoing challenge for most playwrights, and this book provides a fascinating grounding in how to construct a story so readers can’t turn away. Combining how-to tips with helpful examples, this title demystifies the story-making process. This is one of those staples you’ll find yourself turning to time and again – the writer’s version of the gift that keeps on giving. (£6.99/ Kindle Edition £5.49)

5. Time Management – a new year resolution head start!


Since most writers also have a ‘day-job’, finding the time to write is a common a challenge. It can get even more complicated with coordinating sending out and tracking your submissions.

Ok, so you can’t actually buy time management but there are a plethora of books out there filled with hacks to help you make the most of your time, like How to Be a Productivity Ninja (£6.99). Getting Things Done (£10.99) is another great book to help with boosting productivity. A good daily planner or journal can also be really useful for effectively planning your time, we like this one by Life Up (£8.99).

6. Shakespeare Mug

Stereotypically, writers drink a lot of caffeine whilst working late into the night , ferociously typing out their latest masterpieces. In reality, we tend to use making a cup of tea as a way to procrastinate; unless of course, we could look at Shakespeare stuff at the same time, and then we’d technically still by writing, right? Maybe not, but this Picturemaps Shakespeare Mug (£10.33) makes for a thoughtful gift anyway.

7. Writers and Artists Yearbook 2018


An absolute essential for every writer’s bookshelf, this book (£17.29) has everything you need to get a piece of writing finished, and get it noticed. It’s not only packed with inspiration and guidance from experts but contains a whopping 4,5000 industry names to help you to get your work noticed.

8. Desk Decorations


Every writer dreams of a Pinterest worthy workspace and this Karlsson Desk Clock (£16.64) will add a stylish statement to any desk.

If you’re into on-trend Copper hues, why not match it with this Caveen Pencil Holder (£10.99) or this Design Ideas Letter Holder (£17.99) and create a space that is both organised and looks nice!

9. The splurge: Amazon Echo 


If you want to play music, listen to audiobooks and ask questions whilst keeping your hands free for bashing away on that laptop, the Amazon Echo (£89.99) is the gadget for you. A hi-tech addition to any desk, the Echo makes a fun and practical gift for that gift you want splurge on.

Image by Aurimas via Flickr Creative Commons

LPW Online Book Club – The Long Christmas Dinner

The LPW Online Book Club is our latest initiative, exclusive for our members.

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).

This month’s pick

For our holiday selection, the LPW Book Club is going to be reading The Long Christmas Dinner by Thornton Wilder.

Why did we pick this?

Thornton Wilder is one of the most celebrated playwrights in American history. He’s best known for Our Town but was also a master of the short form.

One of the most exciting things about his work is the way he experiments with form, and uses this to explore important truths about the human condition. (No wonder, he is LPB Director A.C. Smith’s favourite playwright!)

The Long Christmas Dinner is a long one-act that depicts a Christmas dinner continuing over generations, looking at how traditions unite us, even as time steadily marches onward. It’s a beautiful play, formally fascinating, and we figured the short pick would be welcome for those getting busy with holiday plans!

How does it work?

All you need to do is read the play and come on over to our Members Facebook Group to join the discussion! Book club threads will be marked with the hashtag #bookclub, so it will be easy to find the discussion.

When does it start?

We’re giving you two weeks to read the play, and then discussion will start at lunchtime (1pm) on Wednesday 13 December 2017. Don’t worry if you haven’t finished the play by then, we’ll be starting at the beginning with our discussion, so there will still be a lot that you can get out of it.

However, we can’t be held liable for any spoilers, so if this is something that will bother you, probably best to finish the play before the book club starts.

We’ll be discussing the play in the Facebook Group throughout the rest of the month, so if there’s a question or a topic you want to explore with a group of writers, this is the perfect opportunity.

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!)

You can get this play in this collection of Thornton Wilder’s Works, which also includes some of his most brilliant short plays.

The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, Volume I (£11.60)

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

Image: Selmer van Alten via CC Licence (https://flic.kr/p/7qHXGB)

Accessibility in Theatre: A Chat With Director Fauve Alice

How do you create theatre for people who are too often ignored in this industry? Read Editor Jennifer Richards’ Q&A with director Fauve Alice to find out…

Spare Tyre are a theatre company that produce bold and powerful performances that not only includes, but are driven by those who are usually voiceless when it comes to theatre.

Their desire to empower participants and artists to make sure theatre, dance and music is something open for all is a view all theatre-makers should share, yet accessibility in theatre (both in terms of those attending, but also with who is on stage) is limited.

I got the chance to see their recent production Nights at the Circus, which was an arresting performance exploring sex, desire and violence in a post-apocalyptic world where the circus is being forced to continue their show every night.

This performance didn’t just defy the norms in terms of its content, but also with its actors – two of the leads were learning disabled actors Ellie Mason and David Munns.

After the show, I caught up with the director Fauve Alice about how theatre-makers can start making their work more accessible.

Q&A With Fauve Alice

 

JR: What drew you to this project?

FA: I wanted to bridge the gap. Working with Ellie and David also drew me. And themes of sex, breaking the idea down of what it means to be sexual, and who is allowed to be sexual. Also who is allowed on stage, what bodies are allowed on stage, and really breaking down those perceptions.

JR: Why do you think it’s so important to make theatre accessible?

FA: It’s just necessary – we can’t understand life fully if we consume the same things again and again. If we continue to work in a ‘safe’ framework, how can we take work to the next level? Also feminist work, I love feminist theatre, but we have to look at what it means to be a feminist, and that it is not always through our own experiences. Otherwise we just replay the hierarchy with ourselves on top.

JR: A lot of theatre makers believe making theatre more accessible requires too much time and money. Do you have any advice on how to achieve more accessible theatre without breaking the bank?

FA: To put work on in mainstream venues. We need support to work with artists with disabilities. Even to get Ellie here, it’s £100. We have to raise a lot of money, it comes down to class and wealth, if you have less disposable income it’s harder to make work like this.

Ellie Mason in Nights at the Circus
JR: Accessibility starts with the script. In what ways can playwrights write their show so that it can be seen by everyone?

FA: Sometimes I don’t care about everybody. Sometimes people say they don’t like it, some say it makes them uncomfortable, but I don’t care. My advice is to choose your audience. You can’t make something for everybody.

With making something accessible [for a certain group of people], you have to make it so people want to see it. It takes a lot of work to get into these communities because they’ve been isolated for so long. That’s a job all on its own, getting disabled people to see your show. Working with Spare Tyre helped.

JR: What stages went into producing Nights at the Circus and achieving this accessibility?

FA: Fundraising. Planning, having a strict structure. We can’t just rehearse whenever we want, especially is the cast need special care getting to the venue, or we simple can’t afford it. So fundraising, and extra planning definitely!

David Munns in Nights at the Circus

To learn more about Spare Tyre’s work, click here

Images are from Fauve Alice’s website, which you can view here.