07
October
2020
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16:14
Europe/London

MA Playwriting course 'a gateway to a writing career in the theatre and performance industries'

In an exciting collaboration between The University of Manchester Drama Department, The Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester, the playwriting course has been introduced to provide MA students with a gateway to a writing career in the theatre and performance industries.

The course is taught by range of established artists, including playwright and screenwriter Tim Price and playwrights Chloe Moss and Anders Lustgarten.

Hear from course lecturers, Tim, Chloe and Anders as they share information about their current projects, writing advice, teaching and the playwriting course.

Spotlight on Anders

What project are you currently working on?

A play for the National Theatre about Israel/Palestine, set in the Occupied Territories. It’s an extraordinary challenge to write about probably the world’s most contentious subject in a way that allows a lot of different voices in without being uselessly ‘all points of view are the same’.

Who gave you the most useful advice on writing and what was it?

Arthur Miller. Lots of good advice, but the best for me personally was that he apparently had “Hold back” written above his desk! Sometimes you need not to lunge in!

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Seeing other people’s views of the world in detail, and helping them evolve that understanding into skilful artistic self-expression.

What do you feel is the most exciting thing about the course?

It’s taught by people who all care about creating a better world and writing with a purpose, not just to have plays on or ‘be a writer’. Not many writers have that bigger sense of perspective, but our lot all do!

Spotlight on Tim

Who gave you the most useful advice on writing and what was it?

I’ve worked with some of the best dramaturges and directors in the country from Rufus Norris, Ben Power, Vicky Featherstone, John McGrath, Orla O’Loughlin, Hamish Pirie, Wils Wilson. But I think the best advice I’ve had is not really advice but a question my mum asked me when I asked her to come see a play of mine. She said, ‘Yes, I’d love to, how long is it?’

I think it’s really easy to get consumed with your art and forget you’re asking a lot of people to sit in a room at an appointed time and you’re going to lock the doors. The cost to people for our form is far higher than any other cultural activity, so standards of execution have to be far higher than the other forms. A play that is too long is far more annoying than a book that is too long.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy re-visiting great works and learning more about them as discussions with students unfold. 

What do you feel is the most exciting thing about the course?

I think Chloë and Anders are two very different writers. It’s important at the Centre For New Writing that courses are taught by working writers and both Chloë and Anders have made great work and have exciting projects coming up. I think students will gain much from working alongside practising writers with their own stage careers. 

Spotlight on Chloë

What project are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on a new play for Headlong Theatre Company. It's set on a Merchant Navy ship and I'd describe it as a feminist thriller. I think it's quite different to my previous work.

 Who gave you the most useful advice on writing and what was it?

The most useful piece of advice I've received has come from a number of different people and it's this - just finish that first draft. It's easy to lose faith in a piece of work or to make the mistake of endlessly redrafting the first couple of scenes. Write to the end and then go back and redraft. Think of your play as a lump of clay which you're going to sculpt into something beautiful. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Writing can be a lonely business so I really enjoy interacting with others and those brilliant moments when you help somebody unlock something they've been struggling with or introducing them to new processes and ideas. It works both ways too - I think my own writing benefits enormously from teaching. 

 What do you feel is the most exciting thing about the course?

Similar to above - I think interacting with other writers, developing a sense of community and sharing new ideas is incredibly exciting and invaluable when it comes to embarking on a career in playwriting. Developing the confidence to share your work with others and give/ receive critical feedback is essential as a writer and very liberating too!

Find out more about the MA Playwriting course here.

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