Category Archives: Inspiration

LPW – new members content for Spring/ Summer!

We’re thrilled to announce some exciting new content coming up for our members this Spring & Summer…

The Re-drafting Toolkit

Following on from the success of #WrAP2018, where a whopping 150 of you signed up to write a play in January, we figured it was high time to give you some killer resources to get your scripts polished to perfection.

The Re-drafting Toolkit will provide you with the essentials you need to tackle those editing problems: whether it’s picking apart your plot, sharpening your dialogue or getting your script submission ready.

The course starts in May and will be delivered in 10 bite-size weekly installments, which will be available over on our members site (and straight to your inbox too, if you so choose). Details on how to sign up will coming very soon!

Summer Sessions

When the sun comes out and the nights get longer, it’s easy for your writing to take a backseat – well 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 mini-workshops throughout August: they’ll be short, fun and keep you inspired during the summer lull (and will also keep you occupied on those inevitable rainy days!) More details to follow, so watch this space!

As always, these resources come at no extra cost to 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).

Image by Karsun Designs via Flickr CC

LPW Online Book club – join us!

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).

More about the Book Club…

For our first outing, we’ll be reading Hamlet. There’s a good chance you’ve encountered this play before – but analyzing it as a playwright is an entirely different experience. We’ll be approaching the text from a writer’s perspective to look at why it works and has continued to fascinate generations of theatremakers and audiences.

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 on Friday 15 September 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 of September, so if there’s a question or a topic you want to explore with a group of writers, this is the perfect opportunity.

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

 

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

Free writing workshop with Papatango winner Dawn King

Dawn King, winner of the 2011 Papatango New Writing Prize for Foxfinder, which was one of The Independent’s Top 5 Plays of the Year,  is to provide a free playwriting workshop at Ovalhouse.

It will cover topics including writing exercises, dramaturgy, exploratory writing, story structure, dialogue, and redrafting.

Dates: Saturday 13 May 2017 and 27 May. The second session is led by Papatango

Cost: free

How to apply: tickets are strictly limited. Get them here

Deadline: none specified

Source:  word of mouth

Free tickets to book launch/showcase of Student Guide to Writing competition winners

The Bush Theatre, MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins, Writers at Work Productions and Oberon Books have announced the book launch and showcase of the winning student and emerging writers’ work from “The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting” competition.

The book launch and showcase of winning work will take place at the Bush Theatre on 9 May 2017 at 2pm.

Free tickets can be booked here

The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting competition ran last year in a partnership between the afore-mentioned organisations to provide access to the leading playwriting training coming out the industry for the first time.

Lesson plans were written by those leading the way in playwriting industry training including lesson plans on Getting Started by Rob Drummer, at the time dramaturg at the Bush Theatre and now artistic director of Boundless Theatre, Ideas by Ola Animashawun, founder of the Royal Court Theatre’s young writers programme, Structure by John Yorke, founder of the BBC Writers Academy, Dialogue by Fin Kennedy, founder of Schoolwrights and Artistic Director of Tamasha theatre company, Staging Your Work by writer actress and producer Caroline Horton, and Final Advice on the business side of being a writer by Lucy Kerbel, founder of Tonic Theatre.

Student and emerging writer winners were also selected as a result of the competition to have their work showcased as some of the best student and emerging writers in the UK.

The event will also include an In Conversation discussion on why the competition was run and advice for student and emerging writers from Stewart Pringle, associate dramaturg at the Bush Theatre, George Spender, senior editor at Oberon Books, and Jennifer Tuckett, course leader of MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins and director of Writers at Work Productions.
Source: Direct contact

 

UK-wide workshops and talks to get you ready for Verity Bargate Award (Free-£30)

The Verity Bargate Award, one of the biggest UK playwriting competitions, is holding a series of workshops around the country with leading playwrights to share their top tips as you get your play ready to enter the contest.

Workshops in London: £30 workshops at the Soho Theatre run from 15 April 15-15 June 2017. To book for the workshops with James Graham, Charlotte Josephine, Inua Ellams, Phoebe Eclair-Powell & Theresa Ikoko or Vinay Patel Click here

Do you live outside London? The VBA is offering  free 30 minute talks with Q&A sessions at workshops around the country at the following venues:

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Wed 12 Apr, 6pm

Liverpool Playhouse and Everyman
Tue 18 Apr, 5pm

The Royal Exchange, Manchester
Wed 19 Apr, 6pm

The Abbey, Dublin
Sat 29 Apr, 2pm

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Sat 29 Apr, 3pm

Live Theatre, Newcastle Sat 6 May, 1pm

Theatre Royal, Plymouth
Sat 13 May,11am

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff 2pm, Saturday 13 May

For details about these workshops click here.

About the Verity Bargate Award: The Verity Bargate Award winner receives £7000 in respect of an exclusive option for Soho Theatre to produce the play.

The award was established in 1982 to honour Soho Theatre’s co-founder and is presented biennially to an artist resident in the UK or Ireland with fewer than three professional productions.

The prestigious biennial Award seeks stand out inspiring new writing talent with past winners including Vicky Jones and Matt Charman.

Writers may submit one unproduced, unpublished full-length play (not shorter than 70 minutes). There is no restriction to subject matter. Musicals and other forms of theatre are welcome but will only be judged on the text submitted.

This year the award is sponsored by production company Character 7 and one writer will be offered the opportunity to develop their storytelling skills for TV drama. The Character 7 prize will be a separate agreement between Character 7 and the chosen writer.

The following are not eligible: playwrights with three or more professional productions to their credit (defined as those produced under ITC/TMA/WGGB contracts), plays commissioned by Soho Theatre, previous Verity Bargate Award winners and plays that have already been considered by Soho Theatre’s literary department. Submitted plays must be unencumbered and available.

What to submit: The play must have a title page with the author’s name, address, email address and telephone number. In addition, writers must include a CV including listing of all works written/produced, when and where. Plays will only be accepted by email, in a PDF format, other formats cannot be accepted. Soho is not able to consider any other supporting material including music, video, or images.

How To Apply: Please email your submission to vba@sohotheatre.com

Deadline: 5 July 2017 at 12pm

Source: The Soho Theatre Website

Get inspired with Royal Court’s playwrights podcast

Gets inspired by the Royal Court’s Playwrights’ Podcasts which come to an end in February 2017.

Playwright Simon Stevens has been talking to 12  of our most important playwrights about their careers, lives and ambitions since December. He said:  “I have had conversations with some of the most exciting playwrights in the country. It has been a real honour. Our conversations have been rangy and lengthy and detailed and fun. I’ve asked them about their careers and their lives, their ambitions and their work. I think, collectively, they offer an extraordinary insight into how playwrights work in the UK today. I am thrilled that these conversations will be aired over the next few months.”

Podcast release schedule:

Anya Reiss – Friday 10 February

Robert Holman – Friday 17 February

Tanika Gupta – Friday 24 February

Source: Playwriting UK/Twitter RT Simon Stephens

Taking matters into her own hands: Tamara von Werthern on putting women’s voices onstage 

After noticing that her plays were getting programed by female producers, playwright Tamara von Werthern wondered if she could help make opportunities for other underrepresented playwrights. In this guest post, she shares her journey into founding Fizzy Sherbet and creating new opportunities for women writers.

2016 was a bit of a shit year in many respects, but for me, it was surprisingly productive. After concentrating on developing my full-length play almost exclusively for several years, I decided to write and send out some new short plays parallel to my efforts. My youngest child had started nursery in January which gave me three hours each week to write. And somehow, by sending things to every opportunity going, I managed to have five different new short plays performed or staged as readings throughout the year. It was such a joy to turn up at a venue, sit in the audience, and watch my play unfold without having lifted a finger to put it there (apart from clicking ‘send’ of course).

A funny thing I had noticed was that all the producers, programmers and directors, who had picked my plays and decided to include them, were women. I wondered if it had something to do with my subject matters, with the predominantly female casts, or maybe the fact that the female experience, whatever that may be, is quite central to my work. It might have been a coincidence, but I was intrigued.

Being exposed through my work at Nick Hern Books to Tonic Theatre (we publish Lucy Kerbel as well as her excellent Platform series of plays with large female casts), I was also keenly aware of the imbalance of female vs male playwrights in the UK. Just under a third of writers of original work for the stage produced are female (according to the latest British Theatre Repertoire Report), and the gender disparity gets worse the higher up you go, so that in the West End there is the lowest percentage of female writers represented on stage.

But then it dawned on me that while I have been lamenting the fact that I have it harder to get my plays on than my male colleagues (statistically speaking), I was also in a really good position to be part of changing this trend. It’s easier than you might think to take matters into your own hands.

Fizzy Sherbet, a new writing initiative exclusively for women writers was born when I mentioned the idea to the mother of one of my children’s friends, Olivia Trench, over a coffee/playdate. Olivia happens to also be Drama Development Executive at Eleven Film, and her enthusiastic encouragement (as well as her offer to share the reading!) brought the idea a step closer to reality.

Both Olivia and I read a lot of plays in our respective jobs and we felt confident that we would be able to pull it off together. When Lily McLeish, who is a wonderful theatre director and a passionate advocate of gender equality in the theatre came on board, we started to get even more excited. Lily has experience of directing as Katie Mitchell’s associate in large venues (she most recently worked with her on Cleansed at the National Theatre), and as an accomplished director in her own right. Lily and I have been working together for a while now, and I know that she is excellent on text work, so I thought – this is shaping up pretty good! This also gave us a great grounding to begin approaching potential venues.

When we were then offered the Hackney Attic, a lovely cabaret-style venue above the Hackney Picturehouse, where one of my shorts was shown in 2015, as a venue, there was no holding back. We launched Fizzy Sherbet with a Facebook page, and were amazed by the response. Not only did the plays pour in and we received over 200 submissions, but they were also accompanied by messages of gratitude, expressions of delight at the existence of a new initiative supporting this cause and offers of friendship all around.

It was all rather heart-warming and encouraging. And what a treasure trove we had opened!

We read plays on space travel, on scientific discoveries, on the Iranian revolution; plays set in supermarkets, in the sky, under the surface of a lake. We read plays that were heartbreakingly sad and ones that made us laugh out loud. Plays about porn and about dying parents. Political plays, personal plays and plays that were both. The characters included every age, gender definition and even characters from the animal kingdom. It was an enriching and eye-opening experience. Every time we had put the kids to bed, brewed some coffee and opened our laptops, there was a tingle of excitement at what we would discover this time.

When we had first discussed how we wanted to run Fizzy Sherbet, our concern went beyond female playwrights, to the related issue of gender inequality on stage. We wanted to encourage the creation of more interesting, varied and gratifying parts for women to play. When we counted up the characters of the plays we read we found that across the board two thirds of characters were women and one third men.

We were very excited and and hugely encouraged to discover that in this case an exclusively female group of playwrights without any steering in regards of subject matter, delivered a great variety of writing but with a clear natural predominance of female characters. This made us wonder: could the predominance of male characters on our stages might simply be led back to the fact that currently there are more male playwrights being performed in the UK than female?

In our case, simply supporting female writers was indeed part of the solution.

Fizzy Sherbet took place at Hackney Attic on 24th January at 7.30. see: https://www.picturehouses.com/cinema/Hackney_Picturehouse/film/fizzy-sherbet-plays

 

Get inspired by the Royal Court’s podcasts with top playwrights

Gets inspired by the Royal Court’s Playwrights’ Podcasts over Christmas and into the new year.

You can hear Dennis Kelly and Joe Penhall on Friday 23 December,  Polly Stenham on Friday 30 December and  David Hare on Friday 6 January 2017.

Playwright Simon Stevens talks to 12  of them  about their careers, lives and ambitions:

“I have had conversations with some of the most exciting playwrights in the country. It has been a real honour. Our conversations have been rangy and lengthy and detailed and fun. I’ve asked them about their careers and their lives, their ambitions and their work. I think, collectively, they offer an extraordinary insight into how playwrights work in the UK today. I am thrilled that these conversations will be aired over the next few months.”

Podcast release schedule:

Enda Walsh – Friday 9 December 2016

April De Angelis – Friday 16 December 2016

Dennis Kelly & Joe Penhall – Friday 23 December 2016

Polly Stenham – Friday 30 December 2016

David Hare – Friday 6 January 2017

Rachel De-lahay – Friday 13 January 2017

Alistair McDowall – Friday 20 January 2017

Lucy Prebble – Friday 27 January 2017

Anthony Neilson – Friday 3 February

Anya Reiss – Friday 10 February

Robert Holman – Friday 17 February

Tanika Gupta – Friday 24 February

 

Source: Playwriting UK/Twitter RT Simon Stephens

Read original drafts of trailblazing playwrights published free online by British Library

The British Library’s Discovering Literature website will launch in March 2017, providing a chance to read the original drafts of trailblazing playwrights for free online – and perhaps get inspired.

Manuscripts from JB Priestley, Joan Littlewood and Shelagh Delaney will be published free of charge on the British Library website Discovering Literature site from March 2017 – alongside more than 100 other items from its 20th century drama collections, including Terence Rattigan scripts.

Other items include original drafts of plays, reports and correspondence from the Lord Chamberlain’s office, costume and set designs, and letters and photographs. There will also be newly commissioned articles written by theatre figures, including Michael Billington.

The library said: “This array of rich content will offer new insights into the creative lives of these trailblazing playwrights for a new generation.”

They will be made available as high-resolution images.

Discovering Literature is a free-to-use website that gives A-level students and teachers, as well as literature fans, access to content, including collections relating to Shakespeare.

Source: Playwriting UK retweeted The Stage’s article regarding the British Library’s exhibition.