Theatre Centre, the UK’s foremost producer and champion of new writing for young audiences, has launched a Writer’s Fellowship to enable four pioneering writers to create radical, challenging and provocative work for young audiences. For 66 years, Theatre Centre has worked with exceptional writers at all stages of their career, supporting them through a raft of opportunities with the objective of making great plays for children and young people.
Now, their Writer’s Fellowship seeks to draw attention to that work, attract new blood into the sector and shout loud and proud that this is the most relevant, important and impactful work a theatre artist can do.
The four inaugural Fellows announced are award-winning playwright and actor Charlotte Josephine (Bitch Boxer, Blush, Pops); writer and director Leo J Skilbeck, also Artistic Director of Milk Presents (BULLISH, JOAN, Big Ben); multi-awarding Writer’s Guild Award nominated writer, winner of the Character 7 Prize and the Adrian Pagan Award 2018 Nessah Muthy (Small Wonders); and winner of the 2018 Off-West End Adopt A Playwright Award Ryan Calais Cameron (Rhapsody, Queens of Sheba). The Fellowship helps to minimise risks for the writers, supporting them to create a piece that will work brilliantly in schools as a dynamic and energising encounter with real depth. Through these collaborations, Theatre Centre plans to work with writers to push the boundaries of Theatre in Schools.
This field of work is particular in its requirements: addressing the needs of schools where theatre encounters take place; being mindful of diversity in its broadest sense; ensuring that the play can stand up and stand tall within the performance environment of the school; as well as being a vital piece of work for venue programming. This work is not the easy option. This work is not the place to be lazy. This work is where an artist’s mettle is tested.
Artistic Director, Natalie Wilson said: “The Theatre Centre Writer Fellowship has been driven by our desire to create more radical and inquisitive work for Theatre in Schools, to offer young audiences in schools the best theatre experience possible. We want to say a deep thank you to all the companies that nominated writers and how fantastic it was to meet so many talented and exciting artists through the selection process. Everyone we met has something to offer. The four writers who will join us as part of the Writer’s Fellowship exemplify the energy and vitality that this artform requires. They are hugely gifted, all different and all hungry to learn.”
In addition to this collaboration with these four playwrights, Theatre Centre has also welcomed as patrons Roy Williams OBE, arguably one of the country’s leading dramatists, and acclaimed actress Naomi Ackie who will be seen in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. Both Williams and Ackie started their careers at Theatre Centre in very different eras yet both epitomise the company values – talent, tenacity, integrity and generosity.
Roy Williams OBE commented: “I first worked at Theatre Centre as an actor, but writing was always my true passion. I just did not know how to start. The company ran a writer’s group in the evening, and I was invited to join. Also, I learned a lot about playwriting from the writers who wrote plays with the company such as Noel Greig, Lin Coghlan and Philip Osment, I could not ask for better mentors. Theatre Centre was the first place that showed me I could be a writer and gave me the belief that I had something to say as well as write about. Today, the plays I see by Theatre Centre are fantastic, by some great writers. If I were watching them in a school, I would be so excited about what theatre can say to me. Theatre Centre remains important to me as a writer as I have the chance to speak with young people through theatre and I want to see Theatre Centre give many more writers the chance to stretch their craft and experience the amazing energy of young audiences in school, the same as it gave me.”