Welsh Playwrights: An Endangered Species?

Mark Williams, 15 September 2012

A bullet-point summary of main points covered and questions raised about the current status of playwriting in Wales. Session raised by Tim Price.

Opportunities for new play commissions have decreased in Wales - currently poorly served in comparison to the situation in Scotland.

20 new plays a year are produced in Scotland, as opposed to 3/4 in Wales.

Making a living solely as a playwright in Wales is very difficult as a result, and writing plays not seen as a viable option for writers (as opposed to TV, for example) - we need to explore sustainable careers for our dramatists.

How can we create a vibrant play writing ecology, where Welsh stories are being written on stage, and build to an international profile?

The small range of opportunities for playwrights puts a high degree of pressure on those who are commissioned. It also prevents a passionate dailogue between writers when new plays emerge in relative isolation.

There is a very healthy level of playwriting in Wales, as evidenced by the 250 submissions to NTW's award. So the plays are being written out there.

Writing itself is not the problem - structures are in place, but how do we develop a body of work, over time?

Deoes the world owe playwrights the right to write plays in isolation? (as opposed to collaboration, etc)?

New writing is a hard sell in Wales, but this is not a reason not to keep making a concerted effort to do it.

Applying for funding as an individual is an exhausting process that often detracts from writing.

The merger of Sgript Cymru and Sherman has not resulted in the expected number of new plays. But rearranging exisiting circumstances is a complicated and difficult process. With the new discursive process happening this autumn between the Sherman and ACW as to their role, this feels like a good time for playwrights and /or their views to be involved in these discussions.

In summary, two strands emerged: 1. the need for more new plays to be produced in Wales alongside the bigger commissions from companies like NTW. And especially for these plays to have an impact outside Wales to assist with writers' long-term development 2. the need for more focused attention from practitioners at all levels on creating a healthy and vibrant writing culture in Wales. A common desire emerged from both writers and organisations to see the development of this (“let's make Wales hot!”)


playwrights, new writing, Wales, Welsh plays