“The word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder. When combined with the word play, this indicates someone who has wrought words, themes, and other elements into a dramatic form… someone who crafts plays…”
PlayWROUGHT is Arcola’s annual festival of new writing. We accept unsolicited submissions for a short period, and select 12 unproduced scripts for the festival. These receive a small amount of development funding, working towards a rehearsed reading.
We are looking for unique voices that haven’t been heard before. Previous graduates include Clarion by Mark Jagasia, Scenes from 68* Years by Hannah Khalil, and Love, Bombs, and Apples by Hassan Abdulrazzak, which have all premiered at Arcola. Other graduates have seen their work presented at theatres across London and the UK. Other PlayWROUGHT writers have gone on to join the BBC Writers Room, Headlong Writers Group, Theatre 503 Five.
Applications for PlayWROUGHT #5 are now CLOSED. Stay tuned for an announcement of successful applicants and full details about the New Writing Festival, due for Spring 2017.
PlayWROUGHT #5: 14 WRITERS. 14 PLAYS. 14 NEW WAYS TO SEE THE WORLD.
24th July – 30th July
PlayWROUGHT is Arcola’s week long celebration of new ideas, new voices and new writing. PlayWROUGHT #5 is set to be our biggest Festival yet, with fourteen exciting new plays presented as a series of rehearsed readings.
The playwrights have had one-to-ones with the Arcola team, developed their work in R&D days, and taken part in masteclasses led by Lisa Goldman (former Artistic Director of Red Room and Soho Theatre). Joined now by exciting directors and actors, each play offers a unique insight into a world in flux.
The festival is a culmination of a unique development process and aims to celebrate and support new and emerging talent, regardless of age, by providing these fourteen playwrights with the guidance, space and support in which to develop their ideas.
Since the first PlayWROUGHT programme in 2014, Arcola has produced or presented five plays from the programme (including Offie Award Winning Clarion by Mark Jagasia in 2015, and most recently Asif Khan’s Offie nominated Combustion in June 2017). Other plays developed in the programme have been presented at venues such as Hampstead Downstairs, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Theatre503 and Leeds Studio, with writers going on to join the BBC and Headlong Writers Groups, produce their work for radio, or on attachment at theatres across the UK.
We are delighted to present new, daring, original and important voices.
To book tickets and see the full programme, click here.
The PlayWROUGHT Festival #4 took place at Arcola Theatre from the 22nd to the 27th of February 2016. Across the week, twelve exciting new plays premiered as a series of rehearsed readings, attracting an audience of 877 including five sold out readings. This was an increase of 22% on previous years, indicating the Festival’s growing stature among audiences. The plays were politically, culturally and socially diverse; from mental illness (Tortoise by Naomi Westerman), racism and white privileged (It Always’s Matters, by Bejnamin Kuffour), the charity sector (Giving by Hannah Patterson), and Jewish cultural heritage (Birthright, Laura Poliakoff).
The playwrights worked with acclaimed directors including Bethany Pitts, Matthew Dunster, Lisa Goldman and Ellen McDougal.
“I’ve found the Arcola to be far more approachable and committed than the other London new writing theatres – and I am certain the Arcola is going to reap large rewards from this strategy.” – Participant.
Beginning with a group workshop the writers were able to meet each other, discuss common problems and share ideas. This was then followed by a one on one meeting with Barney Norris (winner of the Critics’ Circle and Off West End Most Promising Playwright Awards) in which the writers were able to take a closer look at developing their plays. Each writer was then given a three week writing and redrafting period in the lead up to the festival where the plays were presented as staged readings, many to sold out houses.
The PlayWROUGHT Festival took place at Arcola Theatre from the 12-17 January 2015. Across the week, twelve exciting new plays premiered as a series of rehearsed readings, attracting an audience of 868 including five sold out readings.
The plays were politically, culturally and socially diverse; from the Rochdale child grooming scandal (Child Z), through the last 20 months in the life of PC David Rathband, told through the vapour trail of data he left online (What Happens When You Click On It?) , to the lives of four young people in a post-apocalyptic Bradford (North Country).
The playwrights worked with exciting directors including Jessica Edwards, Alex Chisholm, and Rosemunde Hutt, as well as actors such as Asif Khan (Multitudes, Tricycle Theatre), Michael Edwards (The Dog, The Night and The Knife, Arcola Theatre), David Kirkbride (Shrapnel, Arcola Theatre), Ryan Wichert (Clarion, Arcola Theatre) and Anna Bolton (Goneril in the UK Tour of King Lear, Royal Shakespeare Company).
PlayWROUGHT #3 was supported by the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, without whom this would not be possible.
Selected feedback from participants:
“I’ve found the Arcola to be far more approachable and committed than the other London new writing theatres – and I am certain the Arcola is going to reap large rewards from this strategy.”
“It meant that an older writer got a chance – a good thing”
“It has been incredibly positive in terms of the process and the recognition by/relationship with the Arcola”
PlayWROUGHT # 2: Middle Eastern, Asian and North African Writers
The second PlayWROUGHT Festival of new writing took place at Arcola Theatre from Monday 7th July – Saturday 12th July. The second festival focused specifically on writers of Middle Eastern, Asian and North African backgrounds, bringing together six exciting new voices.
The writers backgrounds were varied and wrote on issues such as the Palestinian experience during the occupation (Scenes from 66* Years by Hannah Khalil), The Hijra or Third Gendered communities in India (A Fire of Small Virtues by Sevan K. Greene), a dystopic future directed impacted by government cuts (The Cu*ts by Rena Brannan) and Islamophobia in Britian (Combustion by Asif Khan).
The readings attracted both establish actors and directors (Tracy-Ann Oberman, Adam Levy, Nona Sheppard, Chris White, Sophie Ward and Nick Rowe), as well as new faces. The playwrights were mentored by Shenagh Cameron and underwent a process of guided redrafting, spending two days in development and rehearsal at Arcola before sharing their work with the public. Industry attendance was also strong with representatives from theatres across London and film and television.
This project was produced in association with Nick of Time Productions Limited and the writers were invited to form part of the inaugural Arcola BAMER Writers Group. This project was supported by Arts Council, Backstage Trust, John S. Cohen Foundation and Potter Foundation.
Selected feedback from participants:
“It was a pleasure and an honor to be a part of this and I look forward to continuing my relationship with Arcola. It’s not often programs come along that are dedicated to artists of colour. Most of the others out there pay lip service but never follow through.”
“I’ve enjoyed the chance to look at a play that I haven’t worked on for a while again, I’ve really enjoyed connecting with the other writers and with the Arcola and I’m excited that this isn’t the end but the beginning of a relationship with the theatre, it’s team and the other participants.”
Our pilot PlayWROUGHT Festival took place at Arcola Theatre from the 20th-25th January 2014. Across the week, twelve exciting new plays premiered as a series of rehearsed readings, attracting an audience of 750 including four sold out readings. The plays were politically, culturally and socially diverse.
The playwrights worked with acclaimed directors including Phil Davis, Yael Shavit and Kate Saxon as well as actors such as Aimee Ffion-Edwards, (E4’s Skins), Elliot Cowan (Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe), Michelle Terry (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s Globe), Allan Corduner (Sir Arthur Sullivan in Mike Leigh’s film Topsy-Turvey) and Sheila Reid (ITV’s Benidorm).
Praise for PlayWROUGHT:
“An ambitious but certainly admirable affair…A great initiative from the Arcola, recognising that their lack of a literary department has created a developmental gap and actually doing something about it.” Ian Foster, There Ought To Be Clowns
“Amazing. I learned more than I did in the course of my MA – I have never worked as hard as I did during the rehearsal week and this was because I knew 99 friends, family & strangers were going to be sitting in the beautiful Arcola to see my play – could not have asked for a more daunting but inspiring motivation.”