Jon Bennett – Pinery, SA | Kaurna country Jon is a multi-award winning comedic storyteller. His one-hour productions have been seen at over 120 festivals worldwide. He has written and performed eight comedy specials drawing on his experience growing up in South Australia and his many travels. His work has been selected for the 2019 New York Times Best Seller List (THE MOTH OCCASIONAL MAGIC), an Outstanding Storyteller Award (London Fringe, Victoria Fringe), and nominated for countless awards including seven nominations for a Just For Laughs Award at Montreal Fringe.
Margaret Davis – Blackheath, NSW | Gundungurra country A performer, director and writer, Margaret has been creating stories since the 1980s. She was Assistant Director of the State Theatre Company of SA and Artistic Director of Riverina Theatre Company, and has directed productions in theatres around Australia. Margaret works extensively with local artists to craft new stories and experiences. She draws inspiration from her many projects including artist and performance groups in the Blue Mountains and recently as Guest Director at the Originate Project at Q Theatre Penrith producing PUSH ME, PULL ME.
Kathryn Ash – Cairns, QLD | Bama country Kathryn is an award-winning playwright, dramaturg and actor. She is a co-founder of JUTE Theatre Company, where she has worked on projects for over 25 years. Kathryn has had over 12 professional productions of her work, including BAG O’ MARBLES for Queensland Theatre Company directed by Michael Gow, winner of the ANPC New Dramatists Award in 2001. Her work has been workshopped at three national conferences, and she has currently four published works. She is currently full time Creative Producer for JUTE’s writing programs and dramaturg-in-residence there.
Samah Sabawi – Docklands, VIC | Kulin nation (Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri) Samah’s critically-acclaimed work has won multiple awards including a Green Room Award for Best Writing for THEM, and two Drama Victoria Awards for TALES OF A CITY BY THE SEA. Both works were selected for the Victorian Certificate of Education drama playlist. Sabawi is co-editor of DOUBLE EXPOSURE: PLAYS OF THE JEWISH AND PALESTINIAN DIASPORAS, winner of the Patrick O’Neill Award and co-author of I REMEMBER MY NAME: POETRY BY SAMAH SABAWI, RAMZY BAROUD AND JEHAN BSEISO, winner of the Palestine Book Award. She is currently a Virtual Writer in Residence at Melbourne University’s Union House Theatre.
Today we are delighted to announce the seven finalist scripts for the inaugural Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020, selected from 1,169 entries. We created the Prize to celebrate and support exceptional UK and Ireland-based playwrights who identify as female. The winning playwright will receive £12,000 in respect of an exclusive option for the lead producers of the Prize to co-produce the winning play. The finalists plays will now be read and discussed by our judging panel, and the winner will be announced later in the autumn.
…blackbird hour is a call to arms to loving oneself when love has evaporated from the body.
babirye bukilwa is a writer, actor, model, poet, podcaster and songwriter. She was shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Shortlist 2019 with her debut play …blackbird hour, and is currently an artist in residence at Theatre Peckham 2020 with her second play …cake. bukilwa was invited to join the BBC London writers room 2018, as well as the Royal Court Introduction to Playwriting writers room 2019. As an actor, she was most recently seen in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other (National Theatre). bukilwa co-founded the award nominated podcast ‘SISTREN’; a podcast and collective founded in 2015 to amply the Black, femme Queer British experience.
Set during calving season on a West Midlands farm, three people navigate their pastoral duty to the land, to the animals, and to each other.
Liv Hennessy is a writer from the West Midlands, interested in regional voices and stories. She has written several short pieces during her time as a Pentabus Theatre young writer, and with the Royal Exchange Young Company. She currently works as the Story Editor for ITV Emmerdale, and COLOSTRUM is her first full length play.
This is a story that takes in the shifts of both attitudes and violence in a new folklore style, it confounds any ideas of Black British presence, and follows the hopes, dreams, and fears of generations of Black women starting with a girl called Gabe.
Chinonyerem Odimba is a playwright, screenwriter, theatre director and poet. Her work for theatre includes Joanne and Amongst the Reeds (Clean Break / The Yard), a modern retelling of Twist (Theatre Centre), and Medea (Bristol Old Vic). She has also received commissions from Hampstead Theatre, Kiln Theatre, Live Theatre, Watermill Theatre, Radio 4, and Channel 4. She is currently working on commissions with RSC, BBC and Jermyn Street Theatre. Odimba has also worked as an Assistant Director/Director for Bristol Old Vic and Theatre503, and was due to direct Braids at Live Theatre Newcastle in April 2020.
REASONS YOU SHOULD(N’T) LOVE ME
Juno was born with Spina bifida and is now clumsily navigating her twenties amidst street healers, love, loneliness and the feeling of being an unfinished project.
Amy Trigg is a writer and actor from Essex. Trigg’s essay An Ode to Improvisation (and Poehler and Fey) features in the book Feminist’s Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies) curated by Scarlett Curtis. She wrote two short digital plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Midsummer Festival in 2020, and her one-woman sketch The Rebrand won Colchester New Comedian of the Year 2016. As an actor, Trigg’s credits include The Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure (RSC), Shakespeare within the Abbey, The Sonnet Walks (Shakespeare’s Globe), and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Born with Spina bifida, she was the first wheelchair user to graduate from a performance course at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
REASONS YOU SHOULD(N’T) LOVE ME is Amy Trigg’s first full-length play.
RED SKY AT NIGHT
By Eve Leigh
Red Sky at Night is about living as an immigrant in London, capitalism, aliens, and other things that are probably going to kill us.
Eve Leigh is a writer for performance.Her previous plays include Midnight Movie (Royal Court/Berlin Theatertreffen Stueckemarkt 2020), While You Are Here (The Place/Dance East), The Trick (Bush Theatre, national tour), Spooky Action At A Distance (Royal Court/RWCMD), The Curtain (Young Vic Taking Part), and Stone Face, Silent Planet (Finborough Theatre). She has also received commissions from National Theatre Connections, Bush Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Sheffield Theatres, and PappyShow. She was artist-in-residence at the National Theatre of Greece 2017. Leigh was awarded the Jerwood/Royal Court New Playwright Award in 2019 (with Jasmine Lee-Jones), and the Berlin Theatertreffen Stueckemarkt Selection 2020, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize.
By Miriam Battye
Over one evening, four virgins and two non-virgins try to answer the question that has been repeatedly asked of them, ‘What do you want?’
Miriam Battye is a writer from Manchester. Her previous plays include Scenes with girls (Royal Court), Trip The Light Fantastic (Bristol Old Vic), Pancake Day (Bunker Theatre/PLAY Theatre Co) and All Your Gold (Theatre Royal Plymouth), and she has written extensively for community and youth groups in Manchester and the South West. She also has recently started to write for television and was the 2018 Sister Pictures Writer In Residence.
YOU BURY ME
The play is about love and resistance in Cairo.
Ahlam has submitted YOU BURY ME under a pseudonym.
Ahlam is an occasional writer, she tries to fit it between her anxiety about the end of the world and her anxiety about what her parents would think. When she’s not writing plays, she spends her time teaching herself how to put on liquid eye-liner, wondering why koshari isn’t the most popular dish in the world and contemplating who she would have been if she had grown up in Blacksburg (VA) instead of Cairo (Egypt).
Charlotte and Katie said:
“We are ecstatic to be sharing these seven plays as the finalists for the prize. They represent some of the most extraordinary new writing we have come across in our careers. Each story has been crafted with passion, vision and a bursting political heart. Reading them was an absolute privilege, and every one is a deserving winner. We want to thank every writer who submitted a play for sharing a bit of themselves with us. It was an incredibly competitive process that highlights how many amazing women playwrights there are working today.”
Tahli’s writing credits include BUMMING WITH JANE (2008 B Sharp, Belvoir) which won the 2009 Philip Parsons Young Playwright’s Award. Her second play, ONE FOR THE UGLY GIRLS was presented in Sydney (Old 505 Theatre), Melbourne (La Mama) and Adelaide Fringe (Tuxedo Cat). For Sydney Theatre Company, Tahli wrote THE ARCADE, which was presented as part of Money Shots, and GIRL IN TAN BOOTS was developed through STC’s Rough Draft program before being presented as part of the Griffin Independent Season, and at The Basement in Auckland, New Zealand.
Joshua Tyler – Kyneton, VIC | Taungurung country
Joshua is a writer, actor and dancer. He co-wrote the hit film TOP END WEDDING with Miranda Tapsell. The film premièred at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for Best Film at the AACTA Awards. He has written for a number of Children’s Television shows including TASHI and 100% WOLF. Joshua starred in and co-wrote two seasons of the comedy series PLONK (STAN). In 2019 he won the Screenworks’ inaugural Regional Screen in LA Scholarship.
Alison Mann – Hobart, TAS | Nipaluna country
Playwright and performer Alison Mann has been the recipient of several awards including a First Draft Award from Playworks and a Melbourne Dramatists Emerging Playwright Award. She recently completed mentorships with Maude Davey and Tom Holloway, and is a part of the Blue Cow Theatre’s script development program The Cowshed. Her most recent works include THE SURGEON’S HANDS (Theatre Royal Hobart), SHE’S NOT PERFORMING WELL (Tasmanian Theatre Co, La Mama) and THE ILLUSTRATED GIRL for MONA’s Dark Mofo Festival 2017. She is currently Blue Cow Theatre’s playwright in residence and is a mentor for their young writers’ program – Future Proof.
Jeanette Cronin – Caloundra, QLD | Kabi Kabi country
A graduate of NIDA, Jeanette is an actor, writer and dramaturg. She was the recipient of the inaugural Mike Walsh Fellowship. Jeanette’s first play TELL ME AGAIN premiered at The Old 505 Theatre in December 2014 and in July 2019 received a workshop and rehearsed reading at the Arcola Theatre in London. Her one-woman show QUEEN BETTE co-devised with director Peter Mountford has been produced multiple times for Mardi Gras Sydney (Old 505), Hunter Valley Festival and at Gasworks Arts Park for Midsumma Festival. Her most recent works include I HATE YOU MY MOTHER (Old Fitz), and I LOVE YOU NOW (Darlinghurst Theatre Co).
Tessa Rose – Palmerston, NT | Larrakia country
“Sharing a little bit about our place in the Top End of Northern Territory Australia, our family, gave us a shared happiness and sense of pride.”
Tessa is a writer and performer from the remote Indigenous communities of the Daly River and Peppimenarti in the Northern Territoru. Her most recent work includes her one-woman show THE DALY RIVER GIRL, created for the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2020. The work received the weekly theatre award laurel. Tessa is currently working on a German-Australian telemovie, BAREFOOT THROUGH AUSTRALIA. Her film and television credits as a performer include TOP END WEDDING; BLOOM; KIKI & KITTY; GLITCH; CLEVERMAN and REDFERN NOW.
Critical Stages Touring’s goal is to make outstanding live theatre accessible to audiences throughout Australia. Their vision is to enable regional communities to have the same access to high quality theatre as metropolitan audiences, and to foster a sustainable and diverse national independent theatre sector. They support outstanding theatre artists to achieve their touring ambitions and regional presenters to achieve their audience development goals.
COME TO WHERE I AM: Australia – series one goes live this Wednesday 19 August at 10:30am (BST). This is a four part series which will be released fortnightly on our YouTube channel.
To celebrate the launch of this international project, our Joint Artistic Directors, Charlotte and Katie will be joining Critical Stages Touring for their live Facebook event just before series one goes live. You can tune in to the free Facebook event here.
Here’s a look at the fantastic writers we have performing their pieces this week.
Alysha Herrmann (Berri, South Australia) Alysha Herrmann is a parent, daughter of regional Australia, writer, theatre maker, creative producer and community organiser. As a creative practitioner, Alysha makes performances, installations, experiences, presentations, poetry, essays, digital exchanges and small moments of connection in public places. She has won numerous awards for her work using the arts to interrogate and explore community concerns and aspirations, including the 2017 Arts South Australia Geoff Crowhurst Memorial Ruby Award and the 2015 Australia Council Kirk Robson Award. Alysha writes about vulnerability, community, hope, grief and forgiveness.
Peter Matheson (Maclean, New South Wales) Peter’s experience with Australian stories extends back over a 20+ year career of dramaturgy and writing. He has assisted some of the country’s most respected and innovative theatre makers to bring to life stories from emerging and established authors alike. He has worked dramaturgically with companies including Belvoir, Darwin Theatre, La Boite, NORPA, Riverside Theatres, Yirra Yaakin and QTC amongst many more. The covid-19 period has inspired Peter to return to his playwriting roots.
James Elazzi (Western Sydney, New South Wales) James’ writing seeks to find a balance between his experience of Australian culture and his Lebanese heritage. A catalyst in James’ work is the universal idea of obstacle and transition where characters ebb and flow through themes of family, culture and nudging the status quo. He has been a finalist for the Silver Gull Play Award for SON OF BYBLOS; is currently part of Sydney Theatre Company’s Emerging Writers Group; and his play LADY TABOULI enjoyed sell-out seasons as Griffin Theatre Company’s Batch Festival and the National Theatre of Parramatta in 2019.
We are very excited to announce the shortlist of writers for the inaugural Women’s Prize for Playwriting.
We were delighted to receive 1,169 submissions to the Prize. 70 plays were longlisted, and below are the 35 plays that have made it to the shortlist. We will be announcing the 6-8 finalists and winners in the autumn.
…blackbird hour by Babirye Bukilwa
A Rat, A Rat by Chloe Yates
Colostrum by Olivia Hennessy
Contact Centre by Victoria Barclay
Core by Jennifer Lunn
Deepa the Saint by Sonali Bhattacharyya
Everything Must Go by Caitlin McEwan
EZRA by Stella Green
Fly Home Butterfly by Tife Kusoro
Full English by Silva Semerciyan
Giddyup’s Way by Ciara Cassoni
happy sad virginia! By Deborah Acheampong
How the Dodo Died and Other Stories by Jenny Knotts
Kelp by Gaia Sorcha Fenn
Leaving Eden by Sophia Chetin-Leuner
My Brother’s Keeper by Kim Taylor
PARADISE STREET by Chinonyerem Odimba
Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me by Amy Trigg
Red Sky at Night by Eve Leigh
Savage by Jane Bodie
Smethwick by Yolanda Mercy
Static by Saskia Livingstone
SUPER BLOOD WOLF MAN by Alice Allemano
The Credibility Assessment by Amanda Wilkin
THE ESTATE by Shaan Sahota
The Good People by Camilla Whitehill
The Sub-Let Next to Heaven by Madeleine Accalia
The Swell by Isley Lynn
The Virgins by Miriam Battye
This Might Not Be It by Sophia Leuner
We’ll Be Who We Are by Naomi Obeng
WHAT YOU DO WITH THE DEAD IS YOU BURY THEM by Selma Dimitrijevic
Paines Plough supports the call for transparency about who we workk with. Our statistics ahow that we need to work harder to ensure Paines Plough is representative of the audiences and artists we aim to reach. We have been acknowledging our history, reflecting on our present and focusing on striving for a more positive future.
THE STORIES WE TELL AND HOW WE TELL THEM
New writing is at the heart of Paines Plough. We want to challenge our own lens around the new plays we choose to produce and programme, as well as how we develop them. This will increase the breadth and improve the quality of the stories we tell. We will be diversifying our dramaturgy including providing professional development opportunities in the next 12 months focused on under-represented voices within this field.
WHERE WE SHARE THESE STORIES
As a national touring company we are often visitors in other people’s places and spaces. The environment we enter is often outside of our direct control. But we have not always worked well enough with our partners to ensure that between us we create environments for artists and audiences that afford everyone the safety and sense of belonging that they deserve. From now on we will createan anti-racism rider that’s a requirement of anyone we work with.
WHO SUPPORTS THESE STORIES TO BE HEARD
We are a small core team of 10. We are also a majoritively white team – historic and present. We will be looking at diversifying our core team. We will be addressing our recruitment practices to increase representation, eliminate barriers and enshrine values of inclusivity from the top down.
We will provide regular anti oppression trining and external facilitation on equality, access and inclusion for our core team – promoting collective responsibility for inclusivity.
As a charity, our board of trustees hold us to account. There is currently an imbalance in representation on our board with the current make up including 82% of board members identifying as white. Supported by our trustees in the next 18 months we will diversify our board to ensure there is a range of voices continuing to shape the future of Paines Plough and that is more representative of the audiences and artists we want to reach.
HOW WE MONITOR OUR OWN STORY
We will challenge how we monitor represntation by reviewing our data collection systems. We recognise that percentages do not tell a full story, nor do they account for the multiplicity of identities one individual can hold. We have been too passive in relying on box ticking set by external bodies to analyse who we work with and who we reach. We will be undertaking an immediate review of our equal opportunities form including at the very least, a space for an individual to write how they self-identify outside of ticking a box.
Pentabus is the nation’s rural theatre company. We are the only professional theatre company in the UK whose vision is singularly rural. We tour new plays about the contemporary rural world to new audiences in village halls, fields, festivals and theatres, telling stories with local relevance, plus national and international impact. We believe that every person living in an isolated rural community has a right to exceptional theatre. We are based on a farm in Shropshire, and to date all of our work has been made here. It then tours village halls and theatres locally and nationally. Over four and a half decades we’ve produced 172 new plays, reached over half a million audience members, won a prestigious South Bank Show award, a Fringe First and were the first to live stream from a village hall. We have hosted a writer in residence since 2014 and they have gone on to be commissioned by the Royal Court, Birmingham Rep, Royal Welsh College, Nottingham Playhouse and the Bush.
We are a champion for rural young people aged 16 to 25 and Pentabus Young Company is our new initiative offering workshops, masterclasses, work experience and mentorships, as well as the opportunity to join our Young Writers’ Group, which has been running for seven years.
Callum is an aspiring actor and playwright from the town of Ludlow (Shropshire). He is a member of the National Youth Theatre. His play SURVIVORS was performed at The Courtyard, Hereford, and The Hive, Shrewsbury, as part of Pentabus Rural Theatre Company’s young writers festival, INTO THE UNKNOWN in July 2019.
Jacob is a graduate of the 2013 Royal Court Young Writers Programme and the 2016/18 New Welsh Playwrights Programmes at the Sherman Theatre. His play BETWEEN ETERNITY AND TIME was produced at the RWCMD and the Gate Theatre, London, as part of RWCMD’s NEW:2019. Jacob’s other works have received rehearsed readings at the Sherman Theatre and Theatre503 and have been shortlisted for BBC Writersroom Scriptroom 8 and the 2016 Wales Drama Award, and longlisted for BBC Script Room Drama 2019, the 2017 Bruntwood Prize and the 2017 Papatango New Writing Prize. Jacob is the Associate Playwright at Chippy Lane Productions.
Kat Woods is a writer and director from Co. Fermanagh in N. Ireland. She has a particular interest in staging works that provide a platform for those from the Underclass/Benefit class background. Works that are representative of her community. Works that redefine the discourse surrounding the poverty stereotype. Kat is represented by Alex Rusher at Independent Talent and is published by Samuel French. Kat is an Associate Artist at The Pleasance Theatre London and an Associate Writer at Omnibus Theatre. She is a Royal Court/Kudos TV writers group alumnus. Kat is currently under commission with the MAC, Tinderbox Theatre and Abbey Theatre Dublin, and has been selected to take part in both this year’s BBC Writers Room and BBC Belfast Voices.
Kat’s work has been performed across the UK, Ireland, Finland and the USA including New York. Select credits include BELFAST BOY, WASTED, MULE AND KILLYMUCK. She is a three times recipient of the Peggy Ramsey award; an awardee of the Royal Literary Fund and her work has gauged critical acclaim winning The Stage award for Excellence and the Fringe review award for Outstanding Theatre.
Little John Nee
Little John Nee is a playwright, performer and musician based in the west of Ireland; he received an Irish Times Theatre Sound Design Award for SPARKPLUG and a Prix Italia Special Mention Award for the RTE radio version. Other plays include THE DERRY BOAT, JOHNNY PATTERSON THE SINGING IRISH CLOWN, RADIO ROSARIO AND TEA DANCE. He is currently working on a series of radio pieces THE JUMPIN’ INN and preparing for a tour of DONEGAL TILT OF THE SKY for Earagail Arts Festival. In 2016 he was elected to Aosdána, the state organisation that honours artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.
Olivia trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama first as a jazz vocalist and then on the Mmus Leadership course. Since then her practise has evolved to encompass theatre, solo and ensemble performance and creative facilitation. Over the last 10 years, she has lead creative workshops in a range of contexts from psychiatric units to abandoned cinemas, from orchestral halls to farms, in the U.K. and other places such as: India, West Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, Ireland and Bosnia. Her performances have been inspired by these experiences. Since moving to the Welsh borderlands 5 years ago, she has led a more settled life being more inspired by her immediate surroundings and a few major life events. Other than writing and performing, Olivia is the founder of Voice Yoga U.K.
Natasha Marshall (Writer/Performer) has always enjoyed performing from a young age. Natasha graduated from East15 Acting School in 2012. In 2014 and 2015 Natasha participated in the Royal Court Writers Group. In 2015/2016 she also did the SOHO Theatre’s Writers group, as well as SOHO Rising and Talawa Firsts. Natasha also enjoyed being apart of BBC Sketch Group, BBC Comedy Group and BBC New Voices during that time. Most recently Natasha has written a BLAP for Channel4 based on her play HALFBREED.
Tom Wentworth’s first short film THE REAL DEAL, produced by BBC Studios for BBC Four/BBC America will air later in 2020 for the CRIP TALES season, starring Liz Carr. As a playwright, Tom’s play BURKE AND HARE, recently had successful runs at The Watermill Theatre, Newbury and London’s Jermyn Street Theatre, and was described by The Sunday Times as ‘fast, fun and ever so slightly sick’.
Previously, his play BULLY received a bursary from MGC Futures and his play WINDY OLD FOSSILS (Pentabus) is published by Fair Acre Press. He’s currently under commission to Graeae Theatre Company, National Theatre Wales and his new cycle of monologues about falling are currently being supported by an Unlimited Micro Bursary. Tom is currently part of BBC Writersroom Access Group to develop disabled talent, and a formerly member of the Bush’s Emerging Writers Group
Yasmin Wilde Yasmin lives in North Cornwall with her family. She has been an actress and singer for thirty years, appearing in theatres all over the country and TV shows such as Silent Witness, Back, EastEnders and Holby City. She has always had a passion for writing, and is currently working on her second Musical THE NIGHTINGALE. She is currently on the RIFCO associates writers program.
COME TO WHERE I AM – Series 7: Cumbria, is in partnership with Theatre by the Lake, who are based in Cumbria. Theatre by the Lake has brought the magic of theatre and the excitement of the imagination to one of Britain’s loveliest and remotest counties. The theatre, hailed by The Independent as “the most beautifully located and friendly theatre in Britain”, opened in 1999. It is set a short stroll from Derwentwater on the edge of Keswick, amid the magnificent western fells of the Lake District. COME TO WHERE I AM Series 7 will be available to watch on our YouTube Channel from 7pm on Wednesday 01 July. We caught up with the writers this week and here’s what they had to say:
Please could you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences? I’m Daneka Etchells, I am an actor and writer and I am absolutely delighted to be part of this project about my home county! As an actor, I’ve worked with the Royal National Theatre, Northern Stage, Theatre by the Lake, CAST Doncaster, Northern Broadsides, The Customs House and most recently on feature film, set in the Lakes, Supernova due for release later this year. I’ve only recently came to playwriting, and this is my first professional play commission.
Where in Cumbria are you from? I am from Carlisle. I spent my childhood splitting my time between Carlisle and Caldbeck where my grandparents lived.
Could you tell me a bit about your writing journey? I’ve always loved stories. As a child I was obsessed with books and writing (still am!). However, my acting career took precedence for a while while I focussed on drama school and the first few years of working, before I came full circle back to writing alongside my career. As a teenager, I won the Young Film Critic of the Year award in association with BAFTA and had poetry published in national and international poetry magazines. I’ve written two one-act plays which are currently under development, and I’m attempting to collate lots of my poetry together into a collection.
What encouraged you to enter a submission for Come To Where I Am/ what attracted you this project? Working in the arts, stories about my home are very, very few and far between. I’m extremely proud to be Cumbrian and champion it whenever I can. I’m determined to ensure that my county is put properly on the map and has its identity heard. Plus, I’ve never heard of a play/tv show/film in my entire life set in Carlisle!
Could you tell us a bit about the process? We had to submit three drafts before filming the final reading, and on each draft we were given feedback from our designated dramaturg – mine was Charlotte Bennett, the co-AD of Paines Plough who’s been so supportive of the piece and its evolution. I spent a lot of time researching what exactly I wanted to write about. I did a lot of writing streams of consciousness, spending time looking through photos, and looking at what memories made up home for me. I also asked my family to mind-map their thoughts on Carlisle which was super useful, and we talked together about how we felt about the city. I then linked up my own thoughts, other thoughts, facts and its history and came up with the narrative I wrote.
What advice or tips do you have for other aspiring writers? A great way in is to write about what you know and what inspires you. It’s not hard to talk about what you’re passionate about; so instead of saying the words out loud, speak them to your keyboard or your pen instead. Don’t be too harsh on yourself either, treat yourself with kindness and love. The process is gruelling but extremely rewarding; and your voice deserves to be heard.This comes easier to some more than others, I myself am dyslexic, but the same things that can be challenging, are also a gift. Discover what works for you, everyone’s processes are completely unique, as *you* are. Have those conversations with people on the train, ask people about their lives, watch anything you can, people watch… And read read READ.
Please could you introduce yourself ? My name is Imogen Barnfather, I live in Cockermouth.
Could you tell me a bit about your writing journey? I began writing at seventeen, forming ‘Wyldwood Theatre Company’ with friends. Over three years we produced six plays, and it was a beautiful adventure. Somewhere along the way, I realised I was entirely addicted to sewing costumes at ridiculous hours of the morning and wholly in love with the process of watching my writing grow into theatre. I couldn’t imagine living my life any other way, so I decided to start a new journey and made steps towards founding a travelling theatre company; ‘Wayfarers Theatre’. So far this hasn’t exactly gone to plan, with some impressive hiccups cropping up along the way, but I am by no means deterred, and I eagerly await the day I can officially get things off the ground.
What encouraged you to enter a submission for Come To Where I Am/ what attracted you this project? Recently I have had a rather hefty dose of writer’s block, so I was quite surprised when I found myself tapping away at my submission for ‘Come to Where I am’. I was inspired by the idea of writing about the place I call home; I grew up in the Embleton Valley and I can’t imagine living anywhere very far from the North Lakes. (I’ve also always been rather in awe of Theatre by the Lake, so the idea of sending them a submission was very appealing). My piece is inspired by a very moving encounter I had while working in a Keswick café, ‘Daisy’ has already made her way into the first draft of a script but this project has been an opportunity to present a more in-depth exploration of the event.
What advice or tips do you have for other aspiring writers? If I have any advice for other aspiring writers, particularly those who are struggling to put pen to paper, it’s to not give up. Even if you’re feeling uninspired, or life just keeps getting in the way, think of if it as space to think, to breath. You never know when you might stumble upon something that sparks a new idea or rekindles an old one. The most important thing is at no point should you stop considering yourself to be a writer!
Please could you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences? Hi! I’m Matt. I’m a writer (mostly a poet) from Cumbria, sometimes living in Birmingham. I also do odd bits of activism. I’m 19 years old.
Where in Cumbria are you from? I’m from Kirkby Lonsdale, but my family have farmed around Crooklands for generations.
Could you tell me a bit about your writing journey? I spent a long time failing to write novels, then changed to failing to write poems. Eventually I started failing a little less. I managed to perform in Parliament, write a play, do a TEDx Talk and win the National Youth Slam Championships in 2018, as well as (somehow) passing my A Levels last year. Today I’m studying at the University of Birmingham.
What encouraged you to enter a submission for Come To Where I Am/ what attracted you this project?Leaving Cumbria for University really got me thinking about my relationship to the area I grew up. I thought the project would be a great way to explore my relationship TO the physical and political landscape from which I grew, and the people who made me who I am.
Could you tell us a bit about the process? The process was really rewarding because I got to find out lots about my family farm and my grandparent’s story. I asked them to give me a tour of the farm, telling me the memories they had of the different buildings. Having these conversations, recording their voices and listening to them was very eye opening.
What advice or tips do you have for other aspiring writers? Introduce yourself as a writer. Put the work in. Put work out. Play nice.
Please could you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences? Hi, I’m Nina, I’m 27 and I’m a writer from Cumbria. I have a passion for physics which plays a large part in inspiring the stories I chose to write and I’m also really interested in exploring the relationships between people and place.
Where in Cumbria are you from? I grew up in Dubwath near Bassenthwaite Lake but I currently live in Blindcrake.
Could you tell me a bit about your writing journey? Alongside studying for my degree in English Literature and Creative Writing at Northumbria University I worked front of house at Live Theatre in Newcastle which very quickly became like a second home to me. I’d always loved theatre and grew up watching plays at Theatre by the Lake (which, growing up in such a rural place I was very lucky to have access to) but at that point it never even occurred to me that you could write for a living. There was something about working at Live, the people, the place, the stories that unfolded on stage, there were no rules to it, theatre could do, be or say anything, the possibilities were endless and the whole experience of it really got under my skin. I started blogging for the theatre and I signed up for their Introduction to Playwriting Course. From there I started writing comedy sketches for Mixtape Theatre and short plays for Live. It was around the time that I graduated that Graeme Thompson became Creative Producer and their Live Lab program launched featuring further opportunities for emerging local writers, actors and directors. Graeme and the rest of the creative team were enormously encouraging of me which really helped with my confidence and gave me the courage to stay in Newcastle and keep writing. In 2016 I became an associate artist of the theatre which led to my first full length commission. The play The Terminal Velocity of Snowflakes is a quantum love story about growing up and finding a singularity among infinity. Graeme and Max Roberts, Artists Director at that time had championed the idea from its inception and I worked closely with Graeme as dramaturg and director of the play. As an emerging artist it’s so important to find people who believe in you and the stories you want to tell so I was incredibly lucky to find that so early in my career. The play returned in 2017 following a sold out run and a five star Guardian review and led to me signing with Independent Talent. Since then I’ve been a resident writer in Oxford and Denmark and I’m currently adapting The Terminal Velocity of Snowflakes to screen with support from the BFI Network and Lunar Lander Productions as well as working on another commission for Live.
What encouraged you to enter a submission for Come To Where I Am/ what attracted you this project? Writing for Theatre by the Lake and Paines Plough have been part of my ambitions since I first began writing, they’ve both played a huge part in inspiring my journey as a writer so it was brilliant to see a collaboration between the two of them. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always had a fascination with the relationship between people and place so naturally it was a project I gravitated towards. It was also amazing to see how theatre’s have adapted so quickly to the world we’re currently living in and the outreach program alongside the CTWIA project was something that I felt really passionately about, it’s a way to keep theatre live, intimate and most importantly provide culture for those who are digitally isolated and unable to access theatre online.
Could you tell us a bit about the process? I tend to free-write first thing in the morning, sometimes it’s related to a project, theme or idea, sometimes it’s just whatever’s going on in my head or in my eyeline and at the time of being commissioned I’d already found myself writing about my immediate surroundings and close proximity with nature. I then started writing the outlines of memories I have of growing up which are punctuated by the landscape and combined them with a picture of my physical surroundings of home in the present in Blindcrake. I have a natural tendency to view certain human situations through a scientific lens which I owe to my dad and that’s where the overriding themes of chemistry and creation came from. I’d say the piece is an amalgamation of real life experience, emotion and fiction condensed into a short period of time. I’m also lucky to have been in lockdown with my brother Jack who is an aspiring director and filmmaker so credit for the recording and editing process goes straight to him!
What advice or tips do you have for other aspiring writers? Write the stories that only you can write. Most writers want their work to be universal and appeal to the majority, that’s natural but sometimes I think it’s only by being so specific that you can achieve universality. I think writing, acting or directing, any creative process really, requires a certain amount of vulnerability which can be terrifying even at the best of times but there’s also strength and a power in allowing yourself to be vulnerable. The short winded version of that would be FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY. Collaborate and share your writing with the people you trust the most because they are almost always the people who will keep on believing in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.
COME TO WHERE I AM: Series 6: Dery is in partnership with Derby Theatre.
‘Derby Theatre…increasingly the most crucial theatre in the region because of its emphasis on learning, nurturing and nourishing.’ Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
Derby Theatre is reimagining what a regional producing theatre can be. Through its unique relationship with the University of Derby, the theatre has placed learning, mentoring and artistic excellence as its heart, bringing together creative professionals with diverse audiences, to tell compelling stories.
Jane Upton’s plays include FINDING NANA (Pleasance Edinburgh Festival, 2017 and UK tour 2018, directed by Katie Posner, New Perspectives), ALL THE LITTLE LIGHTS (Fifth Word, UK tour, Arcola Theatre autumn 2017), WATCHING THE LIVING – an adaptation of two short stories by Daphne Du Maurier (New Perspectives, UK tour), SWIMMING (Menagerie Theatre, Hotbed Festival, Soho Theatre and Edinburgh Festival), and BONES(Fifth Word, Edinburgh Festival and UK tour). Jane is currently writing a new play for Nottingham Playhouse.
ALL THE LITTLE LIGHTS was nominated Best Play for the 2019 OFFIES and for the 2017 Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards; it was joint winner of the 2016 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright. The play is published by Nick Hern Books. Jane attended Stephen Jeffreys’ Advances in Scriptwriting RADA, received a bursary from the Peggy Ramsay Foundation and was shortlisted for CBBC New Voices Initiative.
Jane is a writer for theatre, television and radio. Her newest radio play, THE LIFE CYCLE OF OSPREYS,debuted in May 2020 on BBC Radio 4. Her first radio play, WIDE OPEN SPACES (BBC Radio 4), was shortlisted for the Mind Media Awards and Imison Award. Other radio includes LOVETRAIN (Pilot for BBC Radio North).
Theatre includes JINNY(Derby Theatre), HOW I SKINNED MY SISTER, LEFTOVERS and CONCRETE SUPERNOVA (Soho Theatre, Rich Mix, Bush Theatre, and Milano Teen Writing Festival, Milan), BARROW HILL(published by Oberon Books), INWORLD (Finborough Theatre), PHOTOS OF YOU SLEEPING (Runner up for the Papatango Prize), A BITE OF THE APPLE (TBG Theatre, New York City), A GUIDE TO REMOVING CORPSE STAINS(Company of Angels at Theatre Royal York), PINOCCHIO GETS LAID OR THE TASTE OF US (HighTide Festival) and PET’S CORNER (Miniaturists at the Arcola Theatre).
A member of the Channel 4 Screenwriting course, she is currently developing a new television series with CBBC, and currently writes for the award-winning HOLLYOAKS (Channel Four).
John Booker is an actor and writer trained at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. John is currently developing his play’s OLD COKE and WHISKY, EGGS & LEMONADE. As an actor, John performed in WONDERLAND at Nottingham Playhouse directed by Adam Penford and featured in the film THE TIDE directed by Harjinder Grewal.
Simon Marshall is a Derbyshire-based playwright, poet, facilitator and producer. His writing focusses on rural communities, LGBTQ individuals & his work with care-experienced people. He is a New Associate of New Perspectives and regularly works in participation for Déda and Derby Theatre.
He is developing his play BONFIRE, on the rural queer experience online, with support from ACE & In Good Company. He is currently writing a new play KILLBURN (NOT LONDON) on the relationships of young people in care.
Recent work includes ISLAND NATION at the Space, London with Little Pieces of Gold, and SPECIMEN for Theatre503.