Itchy to get penning? In need of a sharp shot of inspiration? Grab a mug of coffee and explore our collection of helpful interviews,insightful writer Q&As and useful links.
10 minutes with Sharon Clark, Literary Producer at Bristol Old Vic
How can writers start out?
Keep an eye out at local theatres for training opportunities, courses and workshops. Truthfully though, most of the time it comes down to having to face your fear of a blinking cursor on the blank page and get that first draft written. When you send a script to a venue or a producer though make sure it is not a first or second draft but is the best it can be. Next, really take on feedback offered to you - it will really help make the script robust.
Your top tips for writing success?
See and read as much work as you can. Find out what plays and whose work inspires you. Remember that everything is a leaning experience - even bad scripts; they help you to go on and write a better one. Get involved in the community and creativity in the region. Sometimes it is fruitful to look at ways of producing work yourself and is an opportunity then for producers and venues to actually see an example of your writing. Get your plays out there. Get your voice seen and heard.
How can writers to get involved with the Literary Department at Bristol Old Vic?
Come and see the shows we put on, take part in workshops we offer and make sure you sign up on our writer's database to hear news and get offers. I would love to see more writers making use of our free wi-fi by working in the café bar. Also, why not visit our writers lounge, invite me to see your work or take part in annual open session every June?
What gets your pulse racing in the work you look to commission and produce?
Originality of voice is key. When reading or seeing new work I am hoping to experience a unique world or a distinctive perspective of this one. A developed understanding of what it is to write for the stage is so important. There also needs to be an acute awareness that at the end of the day someone is going to speak your words in front of an audience - it's not just words that convey meaning but physicality and silence. Disregard the audience at your peril - intrigue, challenge and entertain them.
Is writing always a solitary business?
Absolutely not. The traditional view of a writer working in a garret, passing their script onto a director who interprets it on stage is fast fading. There is a great deal of early-stage collaboration occurring now. Mike Akers and our Associate Artist Adam Peck are great examples of this for the way they work in room alongside a devising company. Theatre has always been a collaborative form, that's why it's so rewarding to write for it.
What do you think marks out writing for stage as theatrical?
An understanding that writing is as much about silence as it is about words. For me, writing for the stage is about showing rather than telling a story. There is something remarkably dramatic about the revelation of a world and also the immediate jeopardy that can surround characters. There needs to be a consideration of what that word physically looks like. It's writing with pictures in your head.
The movement of an audience as a story unfolds can be a wonderful thing to watch. Imagine seeing them react to your story physically - a move forward when they are intrigued and engaged, a slight move back in their seats when you may have temporarily lost them.
Stand out moment of from the last decade of new British theatre?
The emergence and immediacy of new writing which at the moment feels more robust than it did in the previous ten years. The rise of verbatim theatre which has given immediacy - writers have the opportunity to respond to the zeitgeist.
The introduction of both National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre of Wales. I find it remarkable that they have no venues but have so rapidly become theatre powerhouses. They have worked with audiences and playwrights in such pieces as Black Watch and The Passion removing the fourth wall and engaging directly with the communities around them.
If we are talking script, the stand out play for me has to be Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth. It so elegantly and eloquently gives a snap shot of the state we are in.
And lastly, who would come to your theatrical dinner party?
Jean Cocteau - a polymath with a visceral vision and an intriguing life. Then there would be Tennessee Williams so we could discuss how he came to write women who are so damaged and fragile. Tony Kushner - I met him once and he was a generous and warm writer who talks about theatre with a fierce passion. Fiona Shaw - a woman whose integrity in the work she does and easy laughter will always lead to unusual and unexpected debate. And the last place at the table would be set for Aphra Behn. We could talk about what it took to be the first female playwright and was it really true that she was a spy... Got a feeling she would be brilliantly feisty.
Here are a handful of links that may be useful...
Writers' Guild of Great Britain Supports writers for TV, film, radio, theatre, books, online and video games. Find information and news daily on the Writers' Guild blog.
The Writer's Compass Information all in one place for writers and those involved in creating or supporting new writing and literature in the UK. Monthly e-bulletins.
Bush Green For people in theatre to connect, collaborate and publish plays in innovative ways.
BBC Writers' Room For writers approaching the BBC. Includes information on writing for and submitting to the BBC, plus links to other opportunities including theatre.
Online Short Cuts An online version of Live Theatre's in-house Short Cuts event. It provides a great opportunity for aspiring writers to share their scripts online where they can be read by a community of new writing enthusiasts across the UK and beyond.
Southwest Scriptwriters works to develop and promote new drama writers and writing in Bristol and the surrounding area.
And here is a list of theatres that accept open script submissions. Please read their submissions guidelines carefully before sending in work...
And here are a few competitions, awards and festivals...