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FAQs

How can TWP help me?
TWP partners with the theatres and theatre companies in the East Midlands to find emerging writers and develop them. We will read unsolicited scripts and give feedback where we see potential but we have structured projects to develop writers. As opportunities arise for writers we list these as opportunities here. It is unlikely that if you submit an epic masterpiece that it will get picked up and staged by a large regional theatre. However, if the team can see potential we will try to find ways to work with a writer to develop their skills and to help them network in the theatre community. Many of the writers who have been selected by us early on have gone on to have their work staged around the country, been picked up by agents and other theatres, and have developed a writing career. It all depends on the individual.

I have written a play – will TWP read it and feedback?
We will read the first fifteen pages of any unsolicited script. We will only read the whole play and feedback on it if we see potential. As a small charity, we have very limited resources, so please send an SAE with your script if you would like it to be returned, and never send us the only copy of your work. Scripts can be posted c/o Nottingham Playhouse, Wellington Circus, Nottingham, NG1 5AL.

I have written a play – will TWP stage it?
No, we do not directly produce performances. If we think you have potential we will find a way to work with you. However this depends on our current priorities and projects as we run a tight ship. Many of our writers have forged relationships with local theatres that have led to commissions but this is not a quick process!

How can I become a professional theatre writer?
This is not a simple question to answer. There are lots of ways to become a writer and none of them are easy. Getting work staged if you are unknown is difficult and competitive. There are some things you can do. Firstly you need to see as many plays and performances as possible. Theatre is a live medium and to see its possibilities you need to be familiar with the huge variety of styles of theatre as well as the very different spaces a play can be staged in. Theatre is about a relationship with an audience, a story, is different at every performance and is three-dimensional. All of these things need taking into account when you write a script. We recommend you read as many plays as possible to become familiar with the layout. Then you need to work out what you want to write and write it. Most plays have several drafts as questions will arise from each draft. You can find a few basic writing tasks to help you get started here.

Some theatres run writing groups you can submit work to and join. A theatre can then work with writers they think have potential. Many theatres have a literary department that will accept plays directly from a writer without an agent. In London The Soho Theatre, The Bush Theatre and The Royal Court Theatre all accept unsolicited scripts. If your play is good enough they will take this further and find an appropriate way to develop your work. However they often receive several thousand scripts a year!

Some new writers use university theatre societies, amateur dramatic organisations, local youth theatres and the Edinburgh festival as a platform for showcasing their work. This can be expensive but an effective way to actually get to stage your play. The Edinburgh festival is full of artistic directors and programmers looking for interesting work to put in their theatres. You stand a better chance if you win a Fringe First as there are literally thousands of performances happening throughout the festival.

There are several national and local playwriting competitions like The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting and the Verity Bargate award that accept scripts from anyone, which can give a writer a head-start.

Very few writers actually make a living from writing plays full-time. You will eventually need an agent if you want to write for bigger spaces than studios.

Ultimately you need to write, be able to take criticism and advice from the people who know this industry inside out, look for opportunities, be proactive and persistent (while not annoying very busy people) – we said it was hard!

What is the journey from a commission to a performance?
A writer who has a strong track record of playwriting may be commissioned by TWP, a theatre or a company to write something specific for a theatre space or audience. This could be anything from a one-act play to tour the rural East Midlands to a site-specific piece for a festival to a full scale large play for a particular producing theatre. These are usually commissioned by Artistic Directors and are rarely offered to a first time writer. Theatres have various approaches to supporting a writer under commission, and the process should be agreed at the outset. The commissioner is not obliged to stage the play, and a contract stipulates when the decision to produce (or not) must be made.

What should I study at university to become a writer?
There are no hard and fast rules about what to study at university. There are specific creative writing and playwriting undergraduate and postgraduate courses (local courses are listed In Your Area) but many writers come from all walks of life. Many writers choose to study Theatre, Drama or English Literature at university so that they understand writing and theatre. It is wise to read as many plays as possible and see as many performances as possible. However there are writers who have all sorts of life experience and educational backgrounds. A degree is not a pre-requisite for success.

What opportunities are there for me?
Any opportunities for writers are listed here. It’s advisable to get yourself onto a variety of mailing lists to find out about opportunities as they arise – BBC Writers Room is useful, and you can also join our mailing list for TWP news.

What will TWP be unable to do for me?
TWP cannot support every emerging writer who approaches them. The team select writers according to ability and sometimes on the strength of an idea. We generally make call outs when we are trying to discover new talent. We have limited resources for investing in writers and after a certain point it is up to a writer to develop themselves and look for opportunities. We offer events for meeting people and for theatre makers to network but we do not produce work ourselves other than through our writing festival Momentum. We are more of a creative conduit to develop potential and network those who might collaborate or produce work.

I want to be a writer but I’m not from the East Midlands – what can I do?
You can submit work to the London theatres. You can also look at your local theatres and find out if they have a literary department which accepts scripts. If you are from the West Midlands you can contact Writing West Midlands.

What writers has TWP worked with or developed over the years?
TWP has worked with many different writers at different stages in their career. You can see which writers have been platformed through Momentum in our archive.

Do you have any jobs available?
TWP generally advertises on Arts Jobs. Job opportunities are also listed here.

Can I do a work experience placement with TWP?
No. We don’t accept work experience students. Occasionally there are opportunities for specific internships. These are advertised on Arts Jobs and here and are competitive.

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