25 November 2011
Posted in Theatre
The Theatre Committee of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has presented its annual awards for the encouragement of new writing at a lunch ceremony at the Royal Court Theatre Bar.
The awards, the brainchild of the playwright Mark Ravenhill, were set up to give Guild members the opportunity publicly to thank those who had given them a particularly positive experience in new writing over the previous year. This also gives the committee and the Guild a welcome opportunity to celebrate rather than solely focusing on members’ problems.
The winners of the seventh annual awards are:
Cathy Magee (Dyslexia Scotland) - nominated by Lowri Potts
'I’ve never written a play but last year, I attempted my first; Lottery is a provocative encounter between two teenagers with dyslexia, written with a view to it being performed in secondary schools as an awareness-raising entertainment that would provoke discussion. Cathy Magee, Director of the charity Dyslexia Scotland, liked it enough to provide me with two opportunities to put it on during UK Dyslexia Awareness Week, which runs every November. With the help of friend and actor/director Lisa Nicoll and our two lovely actors from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Youthworks, my first play received fantastic positive feedback and I am now seeking a professional company to take it on tour to schools. Thank you Dyslexia Scotland!'
David James (Book, Music & Lyrics Musical Theatre Workshop) - nominated by Theresa Howard
'I am a member of the Librettist and Composer/Lyricist BML Workshop, created by David James - dramatically changing my life as a writer. I have learned so much about the craft of musical theatre, which is making a huge impact on my work. It also gives me the opportunity to network, and collaborate with, highly skilled writers. I am no longer working in a vacuum, I now feel part of a community. Members have formed strong bonds, and in this place of trust, new work is being created and honed. The facilitators (David James, Tim Sutton and David Firman) are exceptional, and sessions have felt electric! I’ve also learned so much from the Masterclasses with Richard Stilgoe, Charles Hart, Terry Davies and others. I know I speak for everyone on the BML when I say that this project deserves an award for encouraging new British musical theatre.'
Elizabeth Newman (Octagon Theatre, Bolton) - nominated by Aelish Michael
'Elizabeth is responsible for new writing at the Octagon and since her arrival two years ago has brought a freshness and vitality to the theatre with her exuberant and indefatigable approach. She has set up ‘Incubate’ for a group of experienced writers and created some unique opportunities for its members, including showcasing our work with professional actors on a regular basis and commissioning the group to write the next Octagon Christmas show. Elizabeth has also recently inaugurated a young people’s writing group ’Generate’ and is establishing a buddy system between the senior and junior writers at the theatre, which is proving very beneficial to both groups. We feel that she richly deserves her encouragement and inspiration is proving to have a huge impact not only on individual writers but on the theatre as a whole, which is steadily building an audience for new writing. Elizabeth's encouragement over the last two years has helped me to strengthen the belief in myself as a writer. Her dynamism and determination to foster new writing has provided me with unique opportunities to extend my craft and experiment outside my comfort zone.'
Natalie Wilson and Theatre Centre - nominated by Lisa Evans
'I would like to recommend that an Encouragement Award is given to Natalie Wilson and Theatre Centre. Their policy and practice of encouraging and supporting new writing for young people is consistently excellent, including appointing a dramaturg if you would like one, specifically to suit you and your project, workshops with actors and tryouts in schools. They support new writing from both emerging and experienced writers. Throughout the process from idea to performance Natalie and her team are focused on enabling the writer - in whichever way they work - to explore and write the best script possible. Once Natalie is committed to working with you the support is absolute.'
Network Theatre (Nigel Williams and Kay Murray) - nominated by Susan Hodgetts
'I graduated in January 2011 with a Masters in Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths University. Competition is extremely tough out there for new writers, particularly those who are mature students, which I was.Network Theatre have not only given me the opportunity to put on my first full-length play this September, but every year they have a new writing slot programmed in amongst their works of classic productions. This month they are also thrilled to be previewing two new works for the Edinburgh Fringe by Kirsty Eyre, a new writer whom Network have nurtured for several years.Labeled as an ‘am dram’ theatre, this theatre is often overlooked for the fantastic work that it does with new writers and the opportunities that it provides for them. I really feel that Network deserve recognition for their support and encouragement, and I believe that their professional but open attitude is taking Network in the direction of being an excellent fringe theatre. I credit them with keeping my motivation afloat at the end of my Masters, and giving me the chance to continue learning, as a writer eventually needs to, by performance.'
Paul Milton (Everyman Writers’ Lab) Cheltenham - nominated by Miranda Walker
'The Writer’s Lab supports twenty writers via script feedback, workshops, guest speakers, opportunities to have work read by visiting actors and script-in-hand performances. Paul has had an amazing impact on my writing and career. My play An Inspector Calls Back received a rehearsed reading at the Everyman’s New Writing Festival. Paul then encouraged me to develop the piece and to boldly take it to London, where it could be seen by industry professionals. He supported my funding applications, committing his own time and Everyman resources. £14,000 from Arts Council England made a run at The Courtyard, produced by the Everyman, a reality. From casting calls onwards, Paul involved me in all aspects of production; I was welcome throughout rehearsals and learnt much from the process. Industry professionals did attend and I was thrilled to gain agent representation as a result. It simply wouldn’t have happened without Paul’s encouragement and support - I feel such passion and dedication, not only to new writing but to nurturing the careers of emerging playwrights, deserves special recognition.'
Previous winners of the award have been:
Chris Bridgman, Director, Northwest Playwrights
Neil McPherson, Artistic Director, and the Finborough Theatre
Purni Morell, Head of Studio, the Royal National Theatre
The Orange Tree Theatre (Sam Walters, Artistic Director, and Alan Strachan, freelance director)
David Thacker, Artistic Director of the Bolton Octagon
Sarah Brigham, Associate Director, Dundee Rep
Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director, The Globe Theatre
Kevin Dyer, Writer
Fifth Word Theatre Company of Derby (Angharad Jones and Laura Ford)
Bill Hopkinson, Director/ Dramaturg
Arnaud Mugglestone, Director
Joe Devlin, artistic director, Focus Theatre, Dublin
Elske van Holk, director of STET Promotions, the English language theatre for The Hague
Lakeside Theatre, Nottingham (Matt Aston, Theatre Programmer/ Producer)
Annette Mees, Project DirectoThe Menagerie Theatre, Cambridge (Paul Bourne, Patrick Morris & Holly Race),
Oldham Coliseum Theatre (Kevin Shaw, Natalie Brown, Michelle Temperley and Jodie Lamb)
Andrew Breakwell, director of the Roundabout Company at Nottingham Playhouse
Suzy Graham-Adriani, producer, Youth Theatre Projects, Royal National Theatre
Clive Paget, musical consultant, Royal National Theatre
Frances Poet, associate director (literary), Hampstead Theatre
Peter Rowe, artistic director, Wolsey Theatre Ipswich
Adele Thomas, director, RuthIsStrangerThanRichard, Cardiff
Gwenda Hughes, Director and Producer
Claire Malcolm, Director, and Anna Summerford, Deputy Director, New Writing North
Joe Sumsion, Artistic Director/ Chief Exec, Action Transport Theatre Company
Watford Palace Theatre (Joyce Branagh, Mary Caws, Lawrence Till)
Lorrie Sheehy, director, First Look Independent Productions
Richard Lee, director of Alec French Architects, Bristol
Katherine Mendelsohn, literary manager, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Jeremy James Taylor, artistic director, National Youth Music Theatre