Playhouse Playmaker 2020/2021
We received more applications to Playmaker than ever before, and the scripts received were of a very high quality. The range of voices, stories and approaches represented was inspiring. It was difficult - and horrible - having to select just six from so many impressive scripts. But I am very excited to be working with the six new Playmakers, who bring with them a rich and diverse range of experience, both personal and theatrical. And while they are different enough to provoke a lively culture of exchange and learning, what they have in common is that they all write with honesty, boldness and emotional truth. I can’t wait to get started. - Clare Bayley
Further information on our Playmakers can be found under the 'Playmakers 2020/2021' tab above.
Applications for Playhouse Playmaker are now CLOSED.
What is Playhouse Playmaker?
Playhouse Playmaker is a Writers Attachment Programme for playwrights at any stage of their career, led by award-winning playwright Clare Bayley. You can find out more about Clare on her website, and read her blog on the Oxford Playhouse website.
Up to six writers are invited to be a part of this year-long free programme, which runs between November and July 2020/2021.
From November until June, the group will meet one Saturday a month. The sessions will be delivered at Oxford Playhouse (or online, depending on circumstances) and consist of practical writing exercises, discussion and feedback on scripts.
In June 2021, the Playmakers have the opportunity to share an extract of their completed script as part of Offbeat Festival, rehearsed and performed by professional actors. You can listen to audio extracts of the 2019/20 Playmakers’ plays here.
JC Niala is a playwright, nature writer and poet. Her plays include The Strong Room, 2010 (shortlisted for BBC Africa Performance) and Unsettled, 2019 (Methuen, Bloomsbury) which was published in the second ever collection of plays by African women. Her films include Something Necessary, 2013 (prod. Tom Tykwer) and Wazi? FM, 2015 (Best Picture Zanzibar International Film Festival).
Her debut non-fiction book A Loveliness of Ladybirds was shortlisted for Canongate’s Nan Shepherd Prize in 2019 and will be published by Little Toller Books in 2022. An extract from the book, Fieldnotes from an African Anthropologist was awarded the Frank Allen Bullock Creative Writing Prize 2020 by St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford.
Julie Tsang is a playwright from Glasgow. She was mentored with the Playwrights Studio Scotland and selected for the professional writer programme with Yellow Earth Theatre. Julie’s plays have won the Scotland Short Play Award with Cumbernauld Theatre and Listen Up! audio drama commission with Alphabetti Theatre.
Her recent work has been long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize and The Women's Prize for Playwriting. Credits include: All Noise - Theatre 503, Spring Lantern Riddles - Lyceum theatre/Royal Shakespeare Company, Fix - Pleasance theatre. Julie’s work will be staged at the 12th Women’s International Playwrights Conference in Montréal 2022.
Patrick Hughes is a Liverpool born playwright and dramaturg living in the south of London.
Previously working in National Theatre's New Work Department, he is currently Executive Assistant at Lyric Hammersmith Theatre. His first play was performed at Liverpool Everyman Theatre. Patrick has an MA in scriptwriting at University of East Anglia which he completed under the tutelage of Steve Waters and Timberlake Wertenbaker. He is a reader for a number of UK theatres as well as a creative writing workshop facilitator. His favourite way to cook eggs is to poach them.
Tabby Lamb is a non-binary writer and performer based in East London and a graduate of the Theatre Directing course at Dartington College of Arts. Equally inspired by Carly Rae Jepson and Tennessee Williams, they strive to tell stories that explore the intersections between popular culture and politics.
Their debut solo show SINCE U BEEN GONE, which Tabby wrote and performed, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019, after previewing at the Gate Theatre. The show was spectacularly received by audiences and garnered a glowing 4* write up from the Guardian who called the play “bold, honest and swollen with love”. They are currently under commission at The Unicorn Theatre, The Place and 45North. Alongside their passion for writing, Tabby is a facilitator and runs creative arts projects for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Georgie Bailey is a working-class Playwright, Poet, Dramaturg and Producer. He is an alumnus of Soho Theatre, HighTide Theatre and Papatango’s respective writer development schemes and a recent graduate from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s Dramatic Writing MA.
Currently, Georgie is the Literary Projects Manager for London Playwrights Workshop, as well as Artistic Director of award-winning multi-arts company ChewBoy Productions; an Associate Company of the Lion and Unicorn Theatre and Living Records Festival. Alongside writing, he works as a freelance dramaturg; facilitating creative writing projects and workshops with people of all ages at venues such as Chichester Festival Theatre.
Rachel Tookey is a writer interested in exploring socio-political themes by telling stories that make us feel something.
Rachel’s debut play, BROMLEY BEDLAM BETHLEHEM, opened at the Old Red Lion in 2019, and was awarded the Methuen Drama / Marlowe Society ‘Other Prize’. It received critical praise, with The Stage calling it “a sensitive and sharp portrayal.”
A previous play, JUDGE JUDY’S BUZZ WORLD, won the Footlights’ Harry Porter Prize and received a short run at the ADC Theatre, before transferring to the Etcetera Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe.
Her short plays have been presented at Southwark Playhouse, HighTide Festival, The Arcola, Lyric Hammersmith, and Theatre503. She has been selected to take part in writers groups with Soho Theatre, The Almeida, HighTide, and Menagerie Theatre Company. In 2017, Rachel was commissioned by the Roundhouse to make her first short film, BLUR. She is represented by David Higham Associates.
Blog Entry by Rachel Tookey, April 2021
At the start of lockdown, a Tweet did the rounds reminding us all that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while quarantining from plague…so really there was no excuse for the rest of us not to come out of this with a literary masterpiece. As a colleague kindly told me: ‘you've got nothing else to be doing’.
Yet writing in a pandemic has been a real test, so we’ll have to assume Shakespeare went into his with a final draft already under his belt. On the outside, there’s this furious, shifting world - where every time you open the news, you’re greeted with another painful twist in this crisis. But on the other side, there’s just…monotony: buckling down to write in the same cramped flat-share, the same walks, same trips to Tesco… Between those extremes, it can be hard to find the focus and urgency to write, and it can feel almost self-indulgent to do so.
That's why it has been such a joy to be an Oxford Playhouse Playmaker this year. Each month, we’re given a deadline to produce ten (more) pages of our play, which we share with the group the following week. Under the guidance of the wonderful Clare Baylee and Ellie Warr, we offer reflections, questions and encouragement to each other, as we all push further into our ideas.
The play I’ve been working is about girl scouts and vampires, and it asks what we tell young women about womanhood. The play’s asked me to write in new non-naturalistic registers, and the feedback and encouragement from the group has helped me find my feet there. And it's been a real gift to see the other plays come to life in the group, as characters shuffle themselves into place and worlds expand.
Outside of the group, I’ve found the Playmaker scheme has given me momentum across my writing. After hearing of Tabby’s incredible drafting and redrafting exploits in the last session, I challenged myself this month to write a first draft of a new play in a week. Getting into the idea was tough at first, but it soon became kind-of thrilling to let myself write imperfectly, in a bit of a haze. I'm now celebrating getting it written by sketching out ideas for the second draft having a Netflix and nap.
I’m excited to see what the rest of this process brings and how all our plays evolve. I hope we make it to the pub as a group at least once.
Blog Entry by JC Niala, March 2021
Theatre is all about timing and my Playmaker experience is no exception. I had applied and been rejected three times, so this was my fourth attempt. The timing could not have been better as it has given me the opportunity to work with Clare Bayley. I had previously taught her play The Container at the University of Warwick where I am an Honorary Research Fellow in the department of Theatre & Performance Studies. Clare has exceptional skill at permission giving – her guidance opens up possibilities that has taken my writing into completely new directions. I am working on a play called Out of Bounds which is an exploration of love, class and social differences against the backdrop of the HIV/AIDS global epidemic of the nineties and the digital age of the noughties.
As I have a family, working on Zoom has been a silver lining on the COVID-19 cloud. Even though the Oxford Playhouse is local to me, being able to be involved in a creative process with a dynamic group of 5 other writers and Eleanor, OP’s brilliant resident director, without having any travel time makes a huge difference. Juggling the writing life with work and family commitments has meant that despite the sociality of theatre, I have mainly worked alone in the early hours before my family wake up. I am relishing the time spent learning from and alongside other creatives.
The Oxford Playhouse is a tremendously supportive place. When the network I belong to African Women’s Playwright Network produced the second ever collection of plays by African women to be published (Methuen, 2019), they provided space for readings which helped us to launch the collection. Staff are welcoming, flexible and open to finding ways to work with writers and artists. They also have a superb programme for young people which my daughter has previously participated in.
In these challenging times, we need all artistic practice more than ever. When I and others have lost people over the last year, it is words of other writers – poets, playwrights - that we reach to for comfort and share.
Live streaming has democratised theatrical spaces by making it possible for those who otherwise cannot get to theatres to be able to participate from their homes. This, of course, does not take away from the magic of live theatre that happens in the moment where anything can go wrong (or right).
If you have a play idea that you have been thinking about, or perhaps a piece of work that you have started and put down, I highly encourage you to dust it off and work with it.
The world needs your words.
And do apply for next year’s Playmaker – if you don’t get in – don’t be put off and apply again.
You will get in when the time is right.
JC Niala - Playwright & Oxford Playmaker
Follow J C on Twitter & Instagram @jcniala
Blog Entry by Georgie Bailey, Feb 2021
I’m Georgie Bailey (not the one from It’s A Wonderful Life) and I’m a working-class Poet, Playwright, Producer and one of this year’s Playmakers.
The scheme brings together 6 writers with different backgrounds, styles and voices and offers us the space to develop a new play. In these monthly sessions, currently via Zoom, we’re given the opportunity to provide feedback on one another’s scripts, to discuss all things theatre as well as gifted the freedom and time to actually write from Clare’s fantastic exercises.
Over the course of the 2021 Playmaker scheme, I’ll be developing a new play called ‘GORGER’ which explores the Romany community and interrogates what we choose to hide from others and questions the divide between us all as humans. It’s set within the confines of a garden and is broken down into several acts which follow a shed being built, whilst two misunderstood communities butt heads in a growing fire of conflict.
2020 was an incredibly strange year and finding inspiration amongst everything going on has been tough to say the least. Everyone’s banging on about Shakespeare writing King Lear during the plague, but I’d like to see old Willy put up with Twitter telling him he should be doing it anyway. In a time when we’re so isolated, we’ve never been so surrounded by other’s opinions, and I’ve found I’ve been trying to reflect on the kinda writing I want to do, rather than what people think I should do.
Graduating from an MA last year was also hideously daunting. With work I had lined up with my production company getting shifted, it meant I’ve gone back to the drawing board with how I create. Whilst feeling like a bit of a backstep initially, it’s actually been super rewarding, and has allowed me to consider new avenues, collaborations and ways of making, and I think if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to try new things, even if they feel like the furthest thing from the boxes we know.
This month, the uncertainty really challenged me. More so than it did over the whole of last year. No certain plans. No ability to make any certain plans. Family and friends becoming ill. No indication of when it might end. It’s all been very doom and gloomy.
Because of cancelled plans I’ve had space to write, think and create. This month, I’ve started a new play, soldiered on with GORGER as well as finished off funding applications for a collaborative animation project for graduate artists. Oh, and I bought a new set of teas (which is something to celebrate, right?)
I’ve found lately, it’s about finding that light, no matter how much of a slither it may be.
Sending all my love, wherever you find yourself reading this.
Follow Georgie on Twitter @georgiebaileey