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New Writing Hub

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New work, adaptation, translation

The development and appraisal of new writing for the theatre has been a feature of the College for many years through its programmes, staff research including that with partners and associates, and the achievements of its alumni. These are detailed below under current and previous now archived projects.

Dr Aleks Sierz, appointed Rose Bruford College Senior Research Fellow in 2013, has been associated with the institution since 2002/03 as a guest lecturer on a number of programmes, Visiting Research Fellow from 2005, and Visiting Professor, 2010-13. He has authored, edited, and co-edited books on contemporary New Writing including Modern British Playwriting: the 1990s (2012); Re-Writing the Nation: British Theatre Today, launched at the National Theatre in February 2011; The Theatre of Martin Crimp, now in its second edition with a new chapter (2013); and the seminal In-Yer-Face Theatre, which has been translated into four European languages. This output together with chapters, articles, keynote addresses and conference papers provides a significant context within which the institution can develop research in theatre criticism and new writing. Dr Sierz is also a senior member of a European partnership led by the University of Barcelona on a three-year project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, “Ethical issues in contemporary British theatre since 1989: globalization, theatricality, spectatorship”; and Contributing Editor of Contemporary Theatre Review and New Theatre Quarterly.

Current projects include: Playwrights on Playwriting, a series of digital essays edited by Aleks Sierz on contemporary playwrights including April De Angelis, Mike Bartlett, Tanika Gupta, Dennis Kelly, Anthony Neilson, Lucy Prebble, Simon Stephens, Roy Williams and Laura Wade, through interviews and critical commentary; The Biography of a Text: The Spoils, the documentation of a collaboration between writer Steven Dykes and composer Paul Englishby, performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Sala El Granero Theatre in Cuenca, Spain, and the “Grimeborn Festival” at the Arcola Theatre in 2009, as a simultaneous streamed performance with Rave Media in 2010 and by the Potomac Theatre Project in New York in 2011; The Play and Solo Performance: Bella Merlin’s Tilly No-Body, written and performed as a one-woman show by Bella Merlin, directed by Miles Anderson, which focuses on the life of Tilly Wedekind, wife to the German playwright, Frank Wedekind; the project will be reflected upon as a critical commentary by Nesta Jones through interviews with the playwright/actor demonstrating how the performance is underpinned by practice as research.

Previous now archived projects include: Urban Scrawl, isa collaborative online audio drama project, involving the College, theatreVOICE, Theatre 503 and 53 writers including Mark Ravenhill (project Patron) and Laura Wade. Urban Scrawl was initiated by Dominic Cavendish, founding editor of theatreVOICE, and Gene David Kirk, College alumni and Programming Editor of Theatre 503, assumed the role of artistic director. The plays, located at stops on the Piccadilly Line, were produced at the College by a team led by Professor Philip Wigley, with Pat O’Toole (Project Manager),Ben Davies (Project Co-ordinator) and Marina Calderone who, as Creatives Trainer, implemented the project with professional and student directors, technicians and 120 actors. The project’s website was designed by Marina Venturini.  New theatre writing modes: collaborative initiatives in playwriting is a project, initiated by Iain Reekie, Jeremy Harrison and Colin Ellwood, who also curates the material, which explored and established methodologies of working on new writingwith acting ensembles, directors and playwrights; individual and joint-authored collaborative theatre pieces were developed, with productions from 2008 to 2012 with established playwrights and emerging playwrights under the auspices of Paines Plough; moderated by Simon Stephens and Paines Plough mentors with performances at the Battersea Arts Centre, The Unicorn Theatre, the Old Vic Tunnels, and The Bargehouse, South BankNew Spanish Theatre was a collaboration initiated by Emilio Romero culminating in 2011 between the College, Euro Theatro Association, Madrid, Ministry of Culture, Spain, and CAOS Editorial, Madrid, resulting in the publication of twenty-one plays by new and established contemporary Spanish authors.

Archives and Collections connected to the Hub include: The Noel Greig Archive, donated by the playwright to the College in 2009, comprises an important collection of his plays, unpublished scripts, professional papers and visual material: from political and community theatre (Brighton Combination, Inter-action, The General Will) to gay theatre (Gay Sweatshop, New Heart, Sexual Outlaws). The Country Setting Collection will form a digital archive of the scripts of new plays, from rehearsal draft to performance text, as seen to press by Professor Simon Trussler for Nick Hern Books, Faber and Faber, and Methuen Drama from 1993 to the present day. With playwrights’ personal archives now largely digital, for many plays this may well be the only extant source for scholars, subject to appropriate permissions, to explore the evolution of a writer’s ideas during the rehearsal process.

Alumni and Fellows of the College Tony McHale, Nick Stafford and Roy Williams OBE, and Honorary Fellows Bill Bryden CBE, Annie Castledine, and Tanika Gupta MBE,are associated with the work of the Hub.

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