SW 2019: dates and venues

Well, this is joyous – being able to let you know the dates and venues for SW 2019!  And, hang on…did I say venues, PLURAL??  Well yes I did, because this year, for the first time, we have the opportunity to take our selected StageWrite pieces to a venue in London.  This happy venture has come about through a collaboration between us at StageWrite and our friends at Good Wolf http://goodwolfpeople.co.uk/

You may have noticed on a previous blog post that one of Good Wolf’s founders, John, has been involved in StageWrite in the past as a performer and director.  He directed Serafina Cusack’s brilliant piece Failing At Failing for SW 2017, and Serafina is now Associate Artist at Good Wolf.  The company has a base at Stanley Halls in South London, where there is a theatre space, and this is to be our second venue!

More soon – including details of Good Wolf’s two shows for Edinburgh, which will be previewed as script in hand performances as part of SW London – but here for now are the dates:

Thursday 9th and Friday 10th May at The Place, Bedford http://www.theplacebedford.org.uk/

Friday 17th and Saturday 18th May at Stanley Halls, London https://www.stanleyhalls.org.uk/

Information about the selected plays and their writers to follow..!

Planning for growth

The approach of spring is encouraging us to be thinking about growth!  Plenty of plans and conversations are on the go for StageWrite 2019, and this year we’re hoping that, for the first time, it will take place not only in Bedford but also – in collaboration with good friends of ours – at a performance space in London.

We’d always hoped that SW would grow and flourish, and although its home is The Place in Bedford, a beautiful studio venue that has given us tremendous support over the years, we are starting to see where it may be able to go further afield.

Watch this space for news of the pieces selected for this year (the process is underway) and for dates of performances in early May.

Looking ahead

We’re pretty excited at StageWrite HQ, because we are now in a position to announce that the festival is going to continue in 2019!  We will be opening for submissions in September – which allows you plenty of time to get writing.  We are especially welcoming scripts by female writers, and casts that are female-heavy, but anyone can submit as long as their work fits the brief.

Another reason we’re feeling buoyant is that one of our 2018 pieces, Forty-Two Times Around The Sun by Chris Pike, has been selected for Dispatches at OSO Arts Centre in London.  Find out more here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/oso-arts-centre/oso-art-centre/dispatches-the-angel-rails

It’s a tremendous, intriguing, darkly funny play that was a huge hit with our SW audience, and we’re delighted that it’s gaining further profile.

 

Another year older, and we still love SW

Goodness me, it’s all over for 2018!  In a whirlwind week at The Place, with fantastic audiences on both nights and fabulous writers to work with, our four plays for this year were a definite hit and provoked some great discussion.  There are already potential developments underway with some of the work.

Huge thanks go to everyone involved – our brilliant company of actors, directors and technicians, the writers and all who came to support us.  StageWrite is an event after our own hearts, allowing new work to be seen and increasing the provision of theatre in the region.  We hope it will continue and have begun to discuss the potential of keeping it alive for next year!  We’ll bring you updates right here as things progress.

 

What’s It All About?

And that’s a fair question, when you’re thinking of seeing a play.  So here forthwith are the synopses of our four brand new plays for this year.  Congratulations to the writers on having their work selected (especially when you consider the fact that we had 63 plays submitted in all!)

Thursday 3rd May

Little Shining Eyes by Poppy Hollman: “We’re killers, Manny. And the thing I can’t get over is the arrogance. We think we can shape things as we want them. We wipe out whole families, colonies, species. The arrogance of humanity – it’s staggering.” Nathan has been a pest control officer for over 30 years. But now he’s had an epiphany, and he’s secretly harbouring a colony of rats in the loft.

Twistfinger by David Howgego: It’s psychic night at the Dog and Duck, “The Great Mary Smith”, a famous medium, is appearing. Things are not what they seem… a much darker side to these popular events is revealed as the audience is confronted by Twistfinger, an evil demon posing as her spirit guide.

 

Friday 4th May

Keeping by Simon Marshall: In sleepy Derbyshire divorced hairdresser, Suzanne, has decided to take it upon herself to cater for her ex-husband’s mum’s funeral. Her son, Jason, is back from university and isn’t sure what to make of it all…

Forty-Two Times Around the Sun by C. Pike: Samuel is in his late forties and has been imprisoned in the home of his Aunt Ena since birth. The outside world, according to Aunt Ena, is overpopulated to the point where there is no square inch of land that does not have a human standing on it.

 

 

StageWrite 2018 has landed

Oh yes indeed!!  This has to be our favourite week of the year…StageWrite week, where the theatre feels like home and we eat, sleep and breathe the new scripts that have been selected.  We have four cracking pieces that are being performed on Thursday and Friday evening, 3rd and 4th May.  Rehearsals kicked off this morning for ‘Forty Two Times Around The Sun’… I captured a few moments to give you a glimpse!

They think it’s all over…it is now!

Well…almost.

As I type, there are only 2 days in which to get StageWrite submissions to us for this year’s festival.  Just to let you in on how things are looking at StageWrite HQ – we’re very excited to have over 50 scripts at the moment, and wondering how on earth we will manage to select the four we need for the festival.

This year, we’ve taken things in a slightly different direction and are going to run two nights of double bills instead of four.  One of the pieces featured will be a fully realised production, with the other three still being script-in-hand.  Reducing the length of the festival allows us to spend a bit more time on development, looking to see how one or more of the pieces could be taken further afield for future performances.  We hope it will also give us the chance to build some ongoing relationships with writers who may be keen to work with us in the longer term.

It’s all happening at The Place Theatre on 3rd and 4th May.  We’ll keep you posted with details of the selected pieces.

Scripts, scripts, scripts

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

 

Autumn is here and that can only mean one thing…

That’s right… it’s submission time.  StageWrite is open for submissions for 2018 and they’re already well under way.  For us here at StageWrite HQ the submission of people’s work is the one thing that gets us through those long winter months and those cold dark evenings.  Well, that and gin…

After another unsuccessful bid last year for funding from the Arts Council we had the annual conversation over whether this was really something we could keep doing with no money, everyone working their butts off for free and, unsurprisingly, like every year we came to the decision that of course we would run it.  We are mixing it up a little this year though so, instead of the usual four nights we are only running for two and putting on four plays instead of eight.

Now the exciting news here is it looks like we have got a little funding from our friends at Sputnik who recently started a patronage scheme of which we will be one of the first beneficiaries.  Assuming that people sign up and donate – I’m trusting they will because we’re awesome and so are the other three projects being supported – this will allow us to realise one of the scripts more fully with a longer rehearsal period and the actors to be ‘off scripts’ for it because we’ll actually be able to pay them!!

Through StageWrite’s home, The Place Theatre, we are also looking to make links with other regional theatres to see if we can start to move work along after StageWrite.  We have become conscious over recent months that we have a great time with the plays and the writers over StageWrite week but we often don’t get to experience the life that the play has after StageWrite and how the process has helped the writers to develop their work.  By getting other venues on board we hope to be able to be an integral part of the play’s life after StageWrite.

Well that’s our news for the time being – writers, we want your scripts.  Make sure you get them to us by 31st January for consideration in 2018’s festival and give us something constructive to do over these winter months.  For the submission brief just click here.

StageWrite 2017 here we come!

Every time I think about our week of new writing for theatre, happening from Weds 29th March – Saturday 1st April, I get a host of (very happy feel-good) butterflies in my stomach.  I absolutely LOVE StageWrite… and I also love the fact that the people who make up our SW company – the actors, writers, directors and technicians – love it too.  We really could not do it without them and their commitment and enthusiasm.  Thank you to everyone who submitted plays this year, and congratulations to those whose work is going to be featured: David Pearson, Serafina Cusack, Connor Patrick Carroll, Carl Russell, Amy Leach and Michael Staniforth.

We’re back at The Place, an absolute gem of a studio theatre in the centre of Bedford, that has become the home of StageWrite over the past 5 years.

Happy days.  I can’t wait!

Stranger rehsl

Winter Light 3

 

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… and last but by no means least… Adam Hughes

Well, everything kicks off tomorrow and we had great fun yesterday as we started to play around with the scripts.  It’s always lovely to see them start to get up on their feet and to begin to explore them.  If you want to pop along this week to The Place Theatre this week and see what all the fuss is about, you’d be more than welcome.  So with everything kicking off and me due back at the theatre any minute it is my pleasure to introduce our final writer of the week to you, Adam Hughes.  Adam’s play, Odds Against, is set in GoBetter,  a betting shop in which Steve works.  Steve’s shift is about to end but things take a darker turn in this great little play.

We loved reading your play, Adam, and I’m particularly excited, especially since I get to play Steve!  As ever, let’s kick off with you telling us a little bit about yourself?

11218756_10152743566886230_6872209898457477468_nI am a young writer from Leeds, West Yorkshire, currently based in London. I am Writer on Attachment at the Finborough Theatre as well as a FUSE Playwright at Sheffield Theatres. Earlier this year I won the Off West End Adopt a Playwright Award and am a past winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing. I have written one full play, Marching On Together, which ran at the Old Red Lion Theatre last year and have had short plays performed at the Crucible Theatre, St James Theatre, Southwark Playhouse, Theatre503 and Wakefield Theatre Royal.

Wow. that’s quite a resume!!  Good for you.  How long have you been writing plays for and what started you off writing?

I started writing plays about four years ago now. It started whilst I was at university and I had seen a play that the Drama Society had staged. That was probably the first time I’d really seen a story staged in front of me and really come to life before my eyes and it was something that fascinated me and I wanted to try it out for myself. As with most writers, once I wrote that first play, I was bitten by the bug and haven’t stopped since!

It is rather addictive isn’t it?  So what prompted you to write the play that you submitted?

The play I have written is about chance. It’s about taking an opportunity when driven to desperate measures. I think as people, we are all quite judgmental. We allow ourselves to be distanced from a situation, assuring ourselves that we would never do anything of the sort. Yet, until we are in a particular scenario we have no idea how we would act. This was something I wanted to explore here – if you were in a despairing situation then how far would you go to get yourself out of it? The play is also set in a betting shop, which is something I have a slight obsession with at the moment. Betting shops fascinate me as they are worlds of their own. People can spend all day there, watching race after race, hoping that just one moment will completely transform their lives. I think the fact that we have seen so many rise on our high streets recently is indicative of us as a society and how these shops almost become a place of refuge for some people who have nowhere else to turn.

Interesting – I hadn’t really thought about how many are popping up.  I guess you’re right though.  I remember as a kid being obsessed with one-arm-bandits and the machines that drop the 2p, and it was all about the chance of getting more than we put in!  Tell us a little bit about your process of writing?  

It really depends on the play (and I know that sounds like a politician’s answer!). There are some plays where you just feel that raw energy and need to get it down on the page as soon as possible in one large splurge. Then there are plays where you have an idea or a concept but you need to really think about the characters, the beats and the overall story you’re trying to tell. I always try to plan with my writing and think about the characters’ choices and what’s actually happening within the script. It can be quite arduous at times but worth it in the long run (I hope anyway!).

Is there anything else that you think reader’s of the blog will find interesting?

I think with writing it’s about finding what you want to say. I’ve written plays before where they have simply been me writing a play. That’s never a good idea and I always think you should only write something if you have a desire and passion to do so. I’m now much more of the mindset that it’s better to write a play that you really believe in and has real heart once every six months than simply bash out six plays which a mediocre and are written for the sake of it; something I have to remind myself on a regular basis!

Great advice, Adam.  And thanks for taking the time to chat to us.  If you want to catch Odds Against – and you do want to catch it, mark my words – then you can grab tickets here and it will be performed on Friday 11th March – kicking off at 7.30pm.  Talking of which, I think I’m due in rehearsal for it any minute now…

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