Insights into our Introduction to Playwriting Groups

With applications now open for our Introduction to Playwriting Groups, we asked the playwrights who led last year’s groups to share what goes on.

Here are some insights from playwrights Sabrina Mahfouz, Rory Mullarkey, Somalia Seaton and Stef Smith. Scroll down for a writing exercise from each of them that you can try at home.

Can you sum up what the Introduction to Playwriting Group is in a sentence?

Sabrina: It’s an introduction to a group of people who are all interested in playwriting!

Somalia: It is a safe place to share, grow and further cultivate imaginations.

Rory: Giving a tremendously exciting group of new artists the confidence to write the brilliant thing only they can write.

Stef: A safe place for experimentation and the chance to create or add to a writing practice that can be as unique as everyone in the room.

Why is it important to you?

Somalia: Because I get to join other writers as they further interrogate their reasons for creating theatre. I get to walk alongside them as they get really clear on their own unique way of telling stories.

Rory: I reckon hearing an original voice hit the air for the very first time is the most thrilling thing you can experience in a theatre. Emboldening and inspiring a group to lift each other up towards that goal is massively emboldening and inspiring for me too.

Stef: We are storytellers and it’s intoxicating to hear new stories from new voices. It’s always a joy to meet other writers and to hear the different ways people express their ideas, passions and processes. At its best it feels like it’s an entirely shared experience of reflection and growth. It’s a programme that fosters friendships and creative conversation.

Sabrina: I did the equivalent course 10 years ago and I met some of the absolute best people – both friends and colleagues that I still work with or hang out with now. They were the first people in my life I met who liked theatre and wanted to write for it too – I think that is so important at the early stage, having people you can chat to about theatre and what writing for it means to you, the stuff you detest, the stuff you love, the stuff you wish you’d seen.

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Can you describe the space, the room, that you create for the group of writers?

 

Somalia: My spaces are holistic. That’s integral for me. We are looking at the conditions required to enable our stories to download onto the screen. This is different for everyone. I want my writers to feel emboldened as they figure out what works for them, what matters to them and what is required for them to get their stories out. I’m not interested in creating a space that promotes an institutionalised version of intellect, though I am interested in creating a space that seeks to dismantle the internalised notion of what a playwright sounds and looks like. Whilst I do lead the room, it remains a space of openness, where everyone can be challenged, including me. A space for learning and growing from each other.

 

Rory: It’s hopefully quite a free space, where we think up surprising things and imagine stranger, brighter, possible worlds. I’m not sure I’m making anyone a better writer – only the writers themselves can do that, by living more deeply and doing more writing – but I hope by being together for a while we can make each other better readers and thinkers and listeners.

 

Sabrina: I’m quite informal and led by my own day up to that point and the days that everyone else brings with them too. I do have a plan – questions we’ll ask and things we’ll discuss, but ultimately the days we have make up the plays we write, so I encourage each person to value their own day as that, rather than give strict instructions on what a play should be like and then say ‘thank you, bye!’

 

Stef: I hope the space is a brief breather from everyone’s daily life and responsibilities. I hope the space is full of creative surprises and potentially even revelations, if not revolutions. A space for excitement about possibilities and also a reflection on our shifting understanding of a playwright can look and sound like.  A space where everyone feels welcomed and all life experiences can co-exist. It’s our own little community, a place of growth and learning. A place where there are no stupid questions, and mistakes are just a chance to learn. A space where all you need is an open heart, an open mind, a pen and a piece of paper.

The closing date for applications to our Introduction to Playwriting groups is Friday 31 July at midday. To find out more click here.