Category Archives: Resources

Stagedoor App Podcast (Bridget Minamore and Chris Campbell of the Royal Court’s Literary Office)

Stagedoor App have released a podcast of an interview between  Bridget Minamore and Chris Campbell of the Royal Court’s Literary Office.

Bridget and Chris chat through the particulars of how writers get their work commissioned by the Court, what they’re looking for, how the department develops relationships with writers – and in particular how the unsolicited submissions system works, dispelling a few myths in the process

If you’d like to give it a listen, you can do so here.

Deadline: not applicable

Source: direct contact

Join us for the all new LPW Online Book Club!

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).

We’re changing the way we do Book Club…

Our online Book Club has been running for a few months now and we’ve read some diverse and brilliant plays – and taken part in some vibrant discussion! However, we haven’t had as many of you engaging with as we’d have liked, so recently we took to our Facebook group to ask our members how we could improve things…

We’ve your feedback on board and have come up with a new and improved version of Book Club!

Texts will be announced seasonally

One of the major things you wanted was plenty of time to get your hands on and read the play before the discussion, so we’ll now be announcing the texts in seasonal three monthly blocks.

How does it work? 

We’ll post a reminder of the chosen play at the start of each month.

Many of you found it tricky to join in the discussion when it was scheduled for a specific time, so instead, from the 15th of each month, discussion will open on our Facebook Group and stay open. 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.

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.

(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). 

When does it start? 

The next Book Club starts on 1 July 2018, where we’ll send out a reminder to read the text. The discussion will then open on our Facebook Group from 15 July 2018. 

What plays will we be reading this summer?  

 

July: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare)

August: A Raisin In The Sun (Lorraine Hansberry)

September: Look Back in Anger (John Osborne)

Why not join us and get the chance to discuss plays with other playwrights and to get to know other LPW members? Find out more about joining here!

Image by LW Lang via Flickr CC

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

WGGB launches FREE Musical Theatre Kit

The WGGB has launched a free resource on musical theatre. The Musical Theatre Kit covers creation, development and production and signposts the places where detailed information can be found about each aspect of the process.

The Kit explores how musical theatre is a collaborative art-form. It recognises that the material is created by a combination of book writers, composers and lyricists – or devised by a collective of writers and performers.

It initially focuses on helping this writing team with copyright ownership, copyright merging and small rights issues. Advice on the key steps for writers is supplied, alongside additional online sample contracts and resources.

The focus then shifts to advice on working with the source material itself, whether an original story, an adaption of existing material in the public domain – out of copyright – or an adaption of an existing work that is still in copyright.

The Kit also investigates the part of the process when the appropriate rights have been acquired, the collaboration agreement has been reached, and the writing process begins.

Finally, advice is offered to writers at the stage when turning the ideas into production kicks off in earnest, after the musical has been written.

At each stage, the budding writer and working partners are given information and sources to smooth their path. This Kit should prove a vital document in encouraging and supporting writers for musical theatre.

How to get it: The Musical Theatre Kit is available online as a free PDF, which you can download here.

Source: Playwriting UK Facebook Group

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.

Free R&D space at Diorama for BAMER theatre companies

New Diorama and Diorama Arts Studio‘s BAMER Companies Project will provide free rehearsal and development space for Black, Asian, Minority Ethic and Refugee focused or led theatre companies for up to 30 weeks a year.

They are looking to develop and work with new artists and are offering free access to the space.

Eligibility: A theatre company which is Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic or Refugee focused or led.

How to Apply: There is an online application form on the webpage.

Deadline: 26 August 2016

Source: Talawa Newsletter

15 Christmas and holiday gift ideas for writers: the best presents for UK playwrights

Writers are tough to find gifts for – who can say what’s going on in our muddled heads when we’re tucked away in the corner typing out a masterpiece? With the festive season fast approaching, we wanted to share some of our favourite writing tools with you which we think make perfect presents – whether you’re buying for someone you love, treating yourself, or preparing to knuckle down with a new year’s resolution to finally crack that project you’ve been meaning to work on.

We’ve provided links to everything we’ve recommended here using the Amazon Affiliates scheme. This means that if you buy anything from this list after clicking through our links, 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 do end up buying any of our gift ideas, we’d really appreciate it if you clicked through from here first. Thanks!

Without further ado, here are our hand-picked gifts for the London playwright:

1 – A Writer’s Book of Days


“Write every day” – never has a piece of advice been so easy to say and so hard to follow. Thankfully Judy Reeves’ book has an endless supply of encouragement, inspiration and short reflective essays to keep your imagination sharp and help you turn up to your daily appointment with the page. It has notes on everything from establishing a routine to coping with loss, how to tell the truth and how to structure a killer sentence. Among its most useful features are writing prompts for every day of the year, but really what makes this book great is Reeves’ wonderful comforting voice, which makes me feel like I can write anything. No writer should be without it. (£16.99 / £13.51 Kindle Edition)

2 – A Guide to Quiet London


As most London playwrights know, this city can be your best friend or your worst enemy. There’s nowhere quite as full of inspiration or distraction – but it’s easy to get lost in the noise. Siobhan Wall’s lovely book offers dozens of unexpected retreats from our city’s busy streets, perfect for writers looking to curl up with their notebook, read something, have a civilised conversation, or just relax and watch the world go by. (£9.98 / £6.17 Kindle edition)

3 – Final Draft Writing Software  


Our Director for LPB swears by Final Draft for writing plays and screenplays.  The wide range of templates and formatting options are a guarantee of producing a professional-looking script, and features like keystroke options, autofill character names, and scene reports can be a huge time saver during the writing process.  A bit of a splurge, but a treat well worth having! (£138.55)

4 – The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2016

A staple of every serious writer’s bookshelf, this vital book has everything you need to get a piece of writing finished, and get it noticed. Covering all disciplines of writing from playwriting to illustration, its pages are packed with essays and articles from experts, but the real meat of this book is in its list of over 4,500 industry names to help you get your work, and yourself, some attention.  They’ve also recently launched a guide targeted specifically at playwrights (Playwriting: A Writers & Artists Companion, £14.99), which could create a lovely set for an emerging writer. (£13.60 / £11.69 Kindle edition)

5 – Wearable Shakespeare (Jewellery and Cufflinks)

There’s something a bit magical about having a bit of Shakespeare at the cuffs (for the gents) or dangling above one’s décolletage (for the ladies).  Perfect for those who love timeless romance as much as they love a well-constructed piece of verse. (Cufflinks £21.99; Necklace £48)

6 – Fancy pens


No craftsman can be taken seriously without the right tools. And no writer’s toolkit is complete without a decent set of pens. It’s so easy to reach for the cheap biros collecting at the bottom of your bag, but there’s no greater delight than using a pen which makes writing feel smooth and weightless, rather than a wonky chore being superseded by the iPhone. We’re particularly partial to Cross (who has sponsored a playwriting competition in addition to making beautiful writing instruments), and you can’t go wrong with options like their Century II fountain pen (£28.60), or their classic ballpoint you can have engraved with a message of your choice. (£29.95)

7 – The Writer’s Block

We all get stuck sometimes. You can’t imagine what happens in the next scene, or a character won’t do what you tell them. But that’s okay: the Writer’s Block is here to help. Shaped like an actual block, its 672 pages are packed full of unexpected prompts, pictures, challenges and facts to kick-start your stuttering script again. Reach for the block whenever you’re stuck: flip it open to a random page and let inspiration strike. (£6.99)

8 – Fiasco: role-playing game


Writing can be a lonely business, so here’s a way to experiment with storytelling and have fun with your friends at the same time. A far cry from Dungeons & Dragons, Fiasco is a colourful role-playing game for up to 5 people which helps you plot and act out your own two-act screwball adventure in about two hours. Full of shock twists, wacky characters and peals of laughter, it’s the most sociable creative writing class you’ll ever have. (£17.86)

9- External Hard Drive

Not the sexiest gift, but vital for anyone who needs to back up their laptop. And unless you want your life’s work to be destroyed by a spilled glass of water, that’s definitely you. There are some fantastic deals out there at the moment – here’s 2 TB worth of storage for just £65 (or you can go wild with the 4 TB option if you’re feeling a little crazy). There are options for every storage size and/or budget – but please, please, whatever you use, remember to back up your work. (2TB for £65, 4TB for £129.99)

10 – Fancy notebooks

Tastes differ when it comes to notebooks: some like them flat and cheap, some leather-bound and embossed, some tiny, some huge. But the important thing is that you have one. When you have that awesome idea when you’re out on the go, you must write it down or it’ll be gone for good. So treat yourself: whether it’s a cheap and comfortable exercise book (£2.99), a lovely lined moleskine (£10.09), or something glamorous and sophisticated (£24.00), get yourself a notebook and never lose a bright idea again.

11 – The Pomodoro Technique illustrated with Pomodoro timer


You will always be busy. No matter how much you pare down your life, there will always be a panoply of worthy distractions out there competing with your writing time. So learn how to be busy. There are a host of time management techniques out there, but one I’ve found particularly useful to help me fit my writing around everything else in my life is the Pomodoro technique. Put simply, it’s a way of focusing on one task for 25 minute intervals, forcing yourself to take a short break, and repeating. The Illustrated Guide can teach you all the nuances of the technique in less than a day, and the Pomodoro timer is a kitsch accompaniment to keep track of your efforts. It’s genuinely changed how I write for the better, and I’d recommend it to anyone who struggles with feeling far too busy to write. (£13.31 / £12.64 Kindle Edition; Timer £2.95)

12 – Script Consulting

Typewriter at this awwwweome stationary shop at Brunswick
Sometimes experiences can be even more valuable than things. As you may be aware, over here at the London Playwrights’ Workshop we’ve recently introduced a Script Consulting service, which gives targeted, personalised feedback and a written report to help develop a script in progress.  If your loved one is a minimalist or could benefit from an outside eye, this could be a thoughtful way to help them get ready for the competitions opening for submissions early in 2016. (£150)

13 – Kindle or eReader 

We know to some folks this is heresy, but if you’re someone who reads loads of scripts or books, being able to store hundreds on one tiny device can save loads in printing costs and future osteopath fees (from lugging all those heavy volumes around). Plus, nightlight reading options are fantastic for those night owls – without annoying their bedtime companions. (£59.99)

14 – Noise Cancelling Headphones

For writers who don’t have the luxury of a private space to work or who just enjoy being set up in their favourite cafe with a cuppa, noise cancelling headphones (or noise isolating) headphones can be a new best friend. There are options to suit a range of budgets, from these over-ear Philips Headphones (£35), to sleek and modern in-ear buds (£99), to high-end Sennheisers that – no joke – come with a ‘smart remote’ (£250). A friend working on a PhD also raves about ear defenders – that’s right, no music, just jackhammer-grade noise protection (£5.99). One of these is bound to do the trick, and provide all the mood music (or quiet) a writer could ask for.

15 – Into The Woods by John Yorke

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 / £5.49 Kindle edition)

Happy Holidays from London Playwrights’ Blog! Here’s to all the writing yet to come…

How to train yourself to write every morning

Image: Tamas Debrei
Image: Tamas Debrei

Trying to fit regular writing time into your life can be a really daunting task. Some of us are lucky enough to have the flexibility to write whenever we want, but for most people, long term commitments like work, family and relationships can make regular time at the keyboard difficult to get a handle on. And it’s often the first thing to go when you’re going through a period of stress. Writing is like a muscle: the more you practise, the easier it gets. And without regular practise, your writing’s unlikely to get better.

A little while ago I went through a really dry period where my writing pretty much ground to a halt. I’d taken on a new job, moved in with someone, and lost a lot of the usual rhythms that led me to write. I’d tried kidding myself that it would just happen: that one of these days I’d be less busy, that I would find the time to sit at my desk and start typing merrily away, but I never did.

I realised the only way that I was going to get my writing mojo back was by beating myself into shape with a writing schedule. I needed to hardwire writing time into my life – and after taking a look at my weekly routine, I realised that reclaiming my mornings would be the best way to go about it. I thought if I carved out some time before work, I could get back into writing properly.

But how to do it? I had grown used to late nights and lie-ins, and the thought of rising early to fit in an hour or so before work filled me with a groggy-headed dread. But in practice, it wasn’t so bad at all – as long as I followed a few rules I set for myself.

Everyone has their own of working, but these are my top tips for making early morning writing a sustainable part of your routine:

Don’t wake up too early. We all need to sleep. Margaret Thatcher may have been able to make it through on only 4 hours a night, but needing 8 is much more normal. Don’t skimp: you’ll get exhausted, make yourself ill, and your writing will suffer. Take a careful look at your schedule and set a realistic wake-up time – and know what time you should be going to sleep. It’s better to have 20 minutes of writing time on a full night’s sleep than an hour without.

Don’t write on an empty stomach. The last thing you want is to ruin your writing time with a growling tummy. Roll straight out of bed and into the kitchen to make yourself a simple breakfast while your mind wakes up. Take time to eat it properly, too. Don’t try to eat and write – far too messy. Read the paper, check Facebook or listen to music – but then be ready to go straight to the keyboard as soon as you’re finished.

Do it in your pyjamas. Write first, wash later. Whenever I get ready for work, all the little tasks have a funny way of expanding to fit the time available. Leave yourself enough time to get ready once you’ve finished writing, but prioritise your time at the page. If you’re late, be late because you had an amazing writing session, not because you spent too long in the shower.

Find a place to do it. Don’t improvise; take this seriously. Whether it’s at a desk or curled up on a sofa, find yourself a writing nook and make sure you show up there every time. It’ll help you stick to the habit. Try to avoid the bed, as this can interfere with your sleep hygiene – yes that’s a real thing – which can have negative effects on your sleep, and your writing.

Make sure you’re ready to go the night before. Lay out your books, your pens, your computer, and unclutter your writing nook so you can just walk in and get started. Unf**k Your Habitat have great tips for keeping your work area tidy. Make sure you have what you need for your quick breakfast, too.

Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Don’t set a word count; don’t set a goal. All you’re trying to do is show up at the page and write. You don’t need the stress of deadlines getting in your way. Some days you will do really well, and other days it will be like pulling teeth – so don’t beat yourself up about the inevitable dry spells.

Make sure you’re stocked with inspiration. If you like working from writing prompts, make sure you have some lined up to get you going. If you get stuck and find yourself casting around for an idea, make sure you’ve got some nice books or images to hand. If you’re going to be doing something else, like editing a scene or developing a character, make sure you’ve decided what it is before you show up. You don’t want to waste time trying to work out what you should be doing.

Have a backup plan. Sometimes you will have bad days where you can’t write anything. You might be ill, you might be knackered, your laptop might die. Or there might be no reason at all. It happens. But when it does, try to use that time in another constructive way – maybe read something inspiring, go back over an old draft, brainstorm a character, or even just doodle something to get your mind moving.

Know when not to do it. Don’t be too hardcore about this. Good writing doesn’t come from working yourself into the ground. If you’re unwell, if you’re exhausted, if you’re stressed by something major happening in your life, don’t feel awful about taking a morning off to steal some sleep or do something else you really have to get done. If I’m having a hard week at work, I normally take Thursday morning off and have a lie-in instead. That extra hour of sleep helps me make it through the week – and one good Friday morning is better than two mornings of exhausted rubbish. Just make sure you’re not making excuses to let yourself slack off.

Be prepared to get better. At first, just waking up and typing the date may well be challenging enough for you. But the more you practice writing, the better you’ll get at it – so be prepared to move on. You may start to find automatic writing boring – see this as a good thing, as it means you should be trying something more challenging. Try more demanding exercises, or start working on project that means something to you.

Don’t pretend this is everything. Writing for short, sustained periods in the morning is a great way to revitalise your writing life, but it can’t replace the proper commitment of longer amounts of time spent at the keyboard. Block out a regular evening once a week to do more of the heavy lifting, think about taking the occasional writing holiday for a few days running, or just fit in a few hours once a week wherever you can. Whatever you do, you’ll find your morning routine leaves you feeling better prepared, your mind clearer, and your writing sharper.

10 great places to read plays in London

You can’t be a good writer if you’re not a good reader. But buying scripts can get expensive, and staying in touch with the best new writing can become a serious drain on your bank balance. Thankfully, this city has a great many opportunities for the curious reader looking for some inspiration. Here are our top tips for ways to read more plays than you can handle, most of them for free:

1. The British Library.

A no-brainer. As a deposit library, the BL has access to copies of every book ever published in the UK, plays included. Just order the texts you want to read from their online catalogue, and a few hours later they’ll be waiting for you at the service desk.

The British Library. Image by Steve Cadman.
The British Library. Image by Steve Cadman.

You have to get a Reader’s Pass to use the Library, which is free, but requires you to justify why you need to use their resources. If you’re interested in researching a topic related to your job or studies, this will usually do. Getting a pass can seem a little daunting, but the staff are friendly and if you can get one it’s absolutely worth the effort.

You won’t be able to take books home, but with reading rooms as beautiful as this you won’t want to. Plus, it’s open late on weeknights, so you can go after work for some quality study time.

2. City of Westminster Reference Library

If you can’t get into the British Library, you might want to try this West End library as an alternative. They specialise in the performing arts, and the collection includes an extensive collection of classic play texts, as well as up-to-date copies of all the major contact directories for agents, theatres and production companies. Membership is free to anyone who lives in the UK. Plus, they have a Sherlock Holmes collection. It’s win-win.

3. The National Theatre Archive

Snuggled up to The Old Vic in Waterloo is the National Theatre Studio, where the UK’s largest theatre develops its new projects and meticulously archives its old ones. You’ll need to make an appointment to access the archive, but it’s free and open to anyone. As well as reading a production’s prompt script, you can peek at the margin annotations, browse the designers’ sketches, and sometimes even watch recordings of final performances. Well worth it if you want to study a particular play in depth.

4. Become a script reader

New writing theatres are desperate for people to help them churn through their stacks of unsolicited script submissions. Drop their literary department a line and ask if they’re looking for any readers. A lot of the scripts you’ll get won’t be much good, but some of them will – and you shouldn’t underestimate what you can learn from your peers’ work, both good and bad. This is a great way to expose yourself to the coal face of new writing, and keep an eye on contemporary trends. Plus, you’ll get first hand experience of how a literary department works, and possibly make some great contacts.

5. The Shakespeare Readers’ Society

Meeting once a month in the basement of an occult bookshop in Bloomsbury, the Shakespeare Readers’ Society celebrate the joy of reading the bard’s work out loud. Parts are doled out on a sign-up sheet, but whether you’re a lead part or a cameo, there’s nothing like getting your head back into the classics and hearing some of the best work ever written being read aloud. When it’s over, pop £3 into the room hire tin and retire to the pub across the road to discuss the play.

6. Reading Groups

If the classics aren’t your thing, you can always try one of London’s many other established play-reading groups. One of the best is the Actors & Writers’ Forum, who meet once a fortnight at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios for rehearsed readings of new plays and a subsequent Q&A. It’ll cost you £5 on the door, or there’s a membership scheme for £10 a year, which also allows you to submit your own scripts for a possible reading. But if this doesn’t take your fancy, scour meetup.com for an alternative, or use it to start one in your own neighbourhood. If you like hearing work read aloud, this is a great way to see what some of your fellow writers are getting up to, and possibly make some new friends.

7. Bush Theatre Café

Bush Theatre Cafe

Curl up with a cappuccino and browse the Bush Theatre’s wall of play texts – it’s not a huge collection but in the comfy surrounds of the old Shepherd’s Bush Library it’s a great place to kill some time before catching the evening show.

8. BBC Writers’ Room Script Library

Download copies of some of the BBC’s best comedy and drama scripts absolutely free. Yes, it’s not theatre, but don’t be a snob – you can still learn an awful lot about structure, character and style from these top-notch scripts: especially their collection of radio plays.

9. Drama School Libraries

If you can’t find what you’re looking for at a public library, you might want to try London’s many drama schools, which stock a whopping number of modern and classic plays. Some require you to pay a fee, like RADA, and some won’t let the public in at all – but access is usually free to staff, students and alumni – and if you know someone with a card it’s well worth asking if they’ll borrow something for you.

10. Samuel French Bookshop

Image: Secret London
Image: Secret London

We’re not suggesting you spend all day here reading plays from cover to cover, but browsing a bookshop can be a great way to get the flavour of different writers’ work, to contrast a few different styles and make an informed purchase of a text you’ll want to read in more depth later. Samuel French has a more extensive collection of plays than almost any bookshop in London – but the National Theatre and Royal Court bookshops are also worth a punt.

 

What’s your favourite place to read plays in London? Recommend something for us in the comments and we’ll go and check it out.