Writer Call Out: Nationwide Voices Programme

Sheffield Theatres are recruiting a writer for a new mid-scale talent development opportunity.

Sheffield Theatres are a partner venue participating in NATIONWIDE VOICES, a new initiative led by English Touring Theatre. 2020 is the inaugural year of NATIONWIDE VOICES. English Touring Theatre are partnering with venues and companies across the UK to identify, grow and platform playwrights from all across the nation in an effort to bring their work onto mid-scale stages. This project is made possible thanks to funding from the John Ellerman Foundation.

Sheffield Theatres are looking for a South Yorkshire writer to participate in the programme.

Writers will ideally have had work previously produced in studio or fringe-scale venues (we will explain more precisely what we mean by this below), with the programme offering opportunities and support to write for larger, mid-scale spaces.

The ambition is to:

  • See emerging writers through the crucial ‘cliff-edge’ experience of career transition.
  • Help theatres nationwide to platform fresh and imaginative voices from their local area who are making engaging work for national audiences.

Mission:

NATIONWIDE VOICES is uniquely positioned to connect exciting new writers across the country with a strong network of venues, challenging and supporting them to create mid-scale work of national reach and relevance.

By nurturing fresh voices from eclectic local communities across the country, NATIONWIDE VOICES aims to develop stories – with a view towards production and touring – that speak to new and underserved audiences across the UK.

The aim of the programme is to:

  • enable a new generation of writers to create imaginative work of broad ambition and scale
  • foster the creation of work that is rooted in local communities while speaking to national themes
  • increase cross-fertilisation between artists and theatres from different regions
  • create a stronger touring network

Eligibility:

Below are the experience and eligibility criteria for this opportunity. However, we know that not everyone can meet all these criteria. If you don’t think you have everything on the list, but know that you could make a real difference to Nationwide Voices, then we encourage you to make an application. Nationwide Voices is about helping writers transition their careers, boosting them onto bigger stages and facilitating their voices for the mid-scale. If you feel ready for that step, we want to hear from you.

  • You must be based in or from South Yorkshire
  • You ideally will have had a minimum of two full-length runs or tours of your shows produced in studio- or fringe-sized theatres (50 – 289 seats, with a full-length run or tour being considered 2 weeks or longer). *
  • You will have had no more than one full-length run of your show produced in a mid-scale theatre or larger (290+).
  • Nationwide Voices is for writers of all backgrounds. We want to encourage writers who are ethnically diverse, d/Deaf or disabled, LGBTQA+, working class, or for any other reason are underrepresented in our industry to apply. Theatre-makers who write as part of a wider practice are welcome. Theatre-makers whose practice is rooted in community engagement are welcome.**

*We recognise that there are still barriers to entering the industry which might mean there are voices who are not often heard or who haven't had the opportunity to get their work presented in this way. If this is the case we would encourage you to apply.

**We recognise that applicants may be at an early stage in their writing, but have extensive adjacent professional experience that is not reflected in the criteria above (i.e. may be highly experienced actors, directors, community theatre makers, and so on). This industry boasts a diversity of skill, and the criteria above are not exhaustive. If you feel you are ready to make work for the mid-scale and can make a difference through your involvement in Nationwide Voices, we want to hear from you.

The programme involves:

  • Learning and developing craft: to kick off the programme, there will be four months of fortnightly workshops and teaching sessions. These nine sessions are organised and hosted by ETT. The sessions are led by playwright Chris Bush (Sheffield Theatres, National Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Theatr Clwyd, Manchester Royal Exchange, York Theatre Royal, and many others), and feature a series of guest speakers as well. The aim is to broaden the horizons and hone the craft of all participants in preparation for creating work for mid-scale stages. Due to COVID-19, these sessions will initially take place via Zoom, until it is again deemed fully safe to travel on public transport and meet indoors. Participants will receive a £70 attendance fee for each session, each lasting 3 ½ hours (including breaks). As and when there are in-person meetings, travel costs will be covered.
  • Seed commissions and a festival of readings: each writer participating in NATIONWIDE VOICES receives a seed commission fee of £1000 for the programme (this is separate from the attendance fees).

After the first four months of teaching, the focus of the latter six months of the programme will be on writing a draft of a full-length play of substantial ambition and scale. These pieces will be supported – both by ETT, Chris Bush, and by partner venues – all the way through development, and shared at the end of the process in a festival of rehearsed readings.

  • Creating a nationwide network: throughout the year, each writer will be connected with a strong network of venues, artists, and audiences, enabling creative exchange and reinforcing the ambition to tell stories of national reach and relevance.
  • A commitment to the future: ultimately ETT and partners aim to work towards considering some of the seed commissioned pieces for a full commission or co-commission where possible, with a potential future view towards co-production and touring.

Writer Attachment at Sheffield Theatres

If selected you will be attached to Sheffield Theatres. This would include:

  • A main point of contact in the theatre for mentorship, support and advice. This is in addition to regular contact with English Touring Theatre and Chris Bush
  • Access to 14 days in the Writer’s Room (once re-opened)
  • Meeting and greeting the team and having one-on-one meetings with the Artistic Director and Artistic Team.
  • Complimentary tickets to attend in-house shows
  • Setting up meetings with artists and venues connected to Sheffield Theatres, expanding your professional network
  • Connecting you with local research opportunities to support you in the development of your full-length play
  • Where applicable, connect you with local groups, communities and/or audiences as part of the development of your full-length play

The programme is due to run August/September - May/June, exact dates TBA. Teaching sessions and workshops are provisionally planned to take place every other Saturday, 12:00 - 15:30 (with breaks). As mentioned above, there is a £70 attendance fee provided per participant for each session. The attendance fee is separate from the £1000 seed commission fee. While initially, sessions will be taking place on Zoom, travel will be covered for any future sessions taking place in-person.

To apply:

Please fill in the application form and equal opportunity form below by Wednesday 29 July at 5pm alongside emailing a full length script to [email protected] with the subject line ‘Nationwide Voices & <your name>’.

You will be informed if you are eligible for this opportunity and whether your application has been shortlisted by 6pm on 7 August