Write to Play is a bold new writing initiative committed to developing the skills and experience of deaf and disabled writers. In the first of a new series, Graeae Theatre Company explains what it hopes to achieve in 2015.
When we started the Write to Play programme last year, there was a startling revelation. Hardly anyone applied from the North West. I scratched my head, casting around for the reasons why, and then I thought: “Right, that’s the next region we should go to to find the next talent of deaf and disabled writers.”
I am chuffed to bits that we’ve got such brilliant and dedicated partners in the Bolton Octagon, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and the Royal Exchange Manchester. It was a pleasure to work with our Year One partners and I am super excited about how we make Year Two even more brilliant. It’s going to be a tough order.
At the moment, there’s a dark cloud over the disability scene. We pride ourselves on the platform that we provide for our artists but cuts to the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and Access to Work are starting to have an impact. It’s incredibly important that our partners in the past, present and future can fly the flag with us in making sure we don’t get relegated to the sidelines. This is where the writers are hugely important: this programme gives them the opportunity to share, learn and develop with the best artists. It’s a chance for the writers to claim ownership of their voices and to write what they want to write about. It doesn’t necessarily have to be political or disability-focused but it has to be good. We we want them to develop from fledgling writers to full-time writers working across the country with their plays.
The Year Two writers are an eclectic bunch, an echo of our Year One motley crew. They have different backgrounds, see the world from their perspectives and will go on massive journeys both professionally and personally. I find this hugely exciting, more so because by the end of this round of the programme we’ll have ten writers with their unique styles competing with the rest of the literary world. Hopefully, the barriers within a new writing venue, as well as the barriers within the writers themselves, will be removed so that each play can be treated on its own merits.
What Graeae and all our partners are truly interested and excited about is an amazing play. A play that screams ‘perform me!’ So, make yourself comfy as the house lights slowly go down and let’s wait with anticipation for the first word or stage direction that comes from our Write to Play writers.
By Amit Sharma
Amit Sharma is Associate Director at Graeae Theatre Company