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Cardiff theatres are helping young Welsh playwrights fulfil their potential

The Other Room YAF

Schemes at the Sherman Theatre and the Other Room Theatre team aspiring Welsh writers with professionals to develop their skills

Performers at The Other Room's Young Artist Festival. Credit: The Other Room
Performers at The Other Room’s Young Artist Festival. Credit: The Other Room

Cardiff theatres have set up workshops and other events that give aspiring playwrights access to professional training and workspaces. The end goal is to produce a finished, potentially published, piece of theatre.

The Other Room at Porter’s (TOR) have many programmes in place to help budding Welsh writers. HELA, showing this week, is Mari Izzard’s first professionally produced play. 

TOR’s monthly scratch platform is called SEEN. Amateur playwrights send in their scripts, then actors and directors volunteer to perform the piece in front of a small audience. “It’s a great way for writers to hear their work aloud for the first time”, says Dan Jones, artistic director at TOR. “We think it fills a much-needed gap in our Cardiff theatre eco-system”, he added.  

The Pursuit platform bridges the gap from SEEN level to commission level. This is a year-long development programme for three selected playwrights, where a brand-new play will be created and eventually commissioned. Matthew Holmquist, who runs the platform, said he’s received about 25 applications and looks forward to starting workshops at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, at the Sherman Theatre The Introduction to Playwriting scheme aims to introduce young people aged 15-18 to writing for the stage. Here, attendees create characters, write scenes and develop ideas for a full-length play.

These taster sessions are part of a research and development course which runs next year. Such sessions have been in place since autumn 2018, and workshops ran last week.

A previous performance by Music Theatre Wales at the Sherman Theatre
A previous performance by Music Theatre Wales at the Sherman Theatre. via Flickr, credit: © CLIVE BARDA/ ArenaPAL.

Timothy Howe, the Communities and Engagement Coordinator at the Sherman, told alt.cardiff they were very successful, drawing students in from Pontyclun to Bridgend. “Having that variety is really important”, he said. 

Timothy says the sessions are all about developing young people’s confidence in opinion and allowing them access to professional writers and workspaces. “It’s something the Sherman has always been passionate about – we need to have more young people accessing opportunities.” 

He hopes the sessions will feed into the future of Welsh writing, which is “a powerhouse of creativity.”

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