Today HighTide have announced the twelve new writers making up the Playwright Crisis Support Programme, as part of their Lighthouse Programme, to support artists during the pandemic, as well as setting up their new Playwright’s Network. In addition, having received over 100 scripts in their first submission window during the lockdown, today sees HighTide open the next submission period for their script-reading service! Writers have until Wednesday 3rd June to send in their scripts.
The Playwright Crisis Support Programme has been created to support a cohort of emerging playwrights over the next year; these are Travis Alabanza (Burgerz), Jack Bradfield (Art Heist), Sophie Ellerby (LIT), Kelly Jones (Comma), Kat Rose Martin (Jane Hair), Caitlin McEwan (Bible John), Tonderai Munyevu (Mugabe, My Dad and Me), Michelle Sewell (Border Control), A.C. Smith (Lock & Key), Hayley Wareham (bottled), Martha Watson Allpress (Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man that used to hit her)), and John Webber (REAP).
They will take part in a programme of bespoke support and training, with mentorship from a HighTide alumnus including Nick Payne (Constellations), Vinay Patel (An Adventure), Kenny Emson (Rust), Luke Barnes (Lost Boys), Anders Lustgarten (Lampedusa) and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Emilia). This relationship with HighTide is intended to help these writers explore the future of theatre and the performance possibilities during a pandemic.
For the script-reading service, scripts are read by HighTide’s Associate Artists and, in an innovation to normal submission practices, playwrights are able to select the reader for their plays to help ensure artists from minority backgrounds have their work considered by truly diverse and representative world-class talent. Looking to keep playwrights engaged and progressing with their practice, the service is open to all UK playwrights, however priority will be given to writers who are based in their home region of East of England, or are from socio-economically deprived backgrounds.
Writers who have participated in HighTide’s programmes during lockdown are invited to join their new Playwright’s Network. Connecting writers with each other as well as leading industry figures in order to develop their practice; it already has more than 70 members. This is just the first in an upcoming series of expansions to the programme to be announced in the next few weeks.
Tonderai Munyevu comments, HighTide’s reputation for working with and ushering in significant writers is inspiring. The fact that the already impressive announced writers are willing to offer real and practical mentorship during these uncertain times makes this a brilliant and unique opportunity. I look forward to it immensely.
Artistic Director of HighTide, Suba Das comments, As we have travelled through the evolving experience of this crisis, we at HighTide have been especially concerned that emerging freelance writers, and especially those from diverse or low-income backgrounds, have been isolated from the conversation about what happens next to the creative industries in the UK. We’re proud that over 150 writers and artists have engaged with our Lighthouse Programme to date and we hope to now reach many more, doing as much as possible to demystify the challenges our sector now faces, and to ensure as many writers can keep working and making in our new landscape.
The 12 writers who now form our Support Programme cohort are some of the most dazzling new voices we have encountered on British stages in the past year. We’re thrilled that so many hail from the East of England, where HighTide has presented its annual festival since inception. With these writers especially, we’re keen to explore the opportunities this disruption provides as we create new ways of working and new ways of presenting theatre, whether digitally or with social distancing, to ensure that new and necessary voices continue to be heard. As the country continues to endure such hardship and tragedy, being at the forefront of empowering expression is more important than ever.
HighTide were the first NPO to launch comprehensive support for the sector through their Lighthouse Programme, with support from their sponsor Lansons. Offering a range of programmes to help artists, its strands reflect the values that sit at the heart of HighTide: to introduce audiences to new work that speaks to the times we live in by the most exciting and diverse writers in the UK; to support emerging writers on their journey; and to engage communities in their home region in Suffolk.