Daniel Perks attends the Write Away showcase as an informal critic. This ten-week course gives emerging writers a chance to experiment and develop.

The Write Away new writers course is in its second year, a much needed way for emerging playwrights to try ideas, discuss & workshop each other’s pieces and have the benefit of presenting a rehearsed reading. It’s run by Laura Horton, with support from Vicky Long, who between them have extensive experience in the cultural arts and specifically within theatre.

But why are these kinds of independent, extended workshops so vital? Well, outside of university courses, which cost a great deal (both in money and time), or venue-specific writers’ programmes, there are startling few places for new and emerging writers to discover and develop their craft. Yes, London is packed with scratch nights galore, wonderful initiatives like Little Pieces of Gold that put out calls for short pieces to host under a single umbrella. There are also superb competitions like SLAM Soaps, this year won by Lucy Burke of Some Riot Theatre for her latest piece WEIRD (their previous production, Glitter Punch, played a highly successful run at both Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 and VAULT Festival 2018).

Vault Festival 2018 Glitter Punch

Glitter Punch

But these events can only accept a limited number of applicants and are inundated with submissions on each and every call-out – the success rate is typically in the region of 3%. Laura and Vicky’s alternative is a course open to anyone willing to pay a small administrative cost. As is typically the way with these kinds of endeavours, they take no commission or fee from this – it’s a completely selfless, profitless enterprise that in many ways continues to perpetuate the wider issue around lack of funding that the arts is constantly in battle with. But, if you don’t set up these initiatives as a low- or no-return model, where will anyone be able to develop?

“We set up the course to provide a cheap way for budding writers to produce short plays and put them on.” comment organiser Horton. “We pay for a space for two hours each week; we have different speakers; we pay for a director, actors, a dramaturg and a critic to provide feedback, so people can get a sense of the process.”

It’s a wonderful way to experiment with narrative, idea and form for those who are less familiar to the craft. This year’s course was hosted by Pelier Hall, Kennington over ten weeks, with speakers including:

  • Artistic Director of Futures Theatre Caroline Bryant;
  • Producer of Pint Sized Plays Matt Maltby; 
  • Dramaturg Amy Bethan Evans;
  • Associate Director of Soho Theatre Charlotte Bennett;
  • Director Purni Morell, and
  • Movement Director Anna Morrissey.

Director Beth Pitts brought each of the eleven pieces together for the rehearsed reading, hosted by the White Bear Theatre, and I was fortunate enough to attend as a critic and provide feedback on each of the five-minute performances. 11 pieces were performed in total:

  • Sugarism by Laura Horton
  • Waiting For Gavin by Tess Kennedy
  • Incommunicado by Lizzie Vogler
  • Window by Joseph Gardiner
  • Fag End by Sarah Jones Keyworth
  • Baseline by Ness Lyons
  • The Launderette by Simon Colenutt
  • A Kink In The Machine by Clair Whitefield
  • Stab by Maggie Garson
  • Perfect by Laura Edghill
  • Matter by Vicky Long

 

 

For more information about the Write Away showcase or ten-week course, please contact Laura Horton.