Tom Wells, 8 October 2017

Writers and writing in Hull

We discussed: the lack of provision for brand new writers in Hull. There is currently: no writer training at all if you are interested in learning how to write a play, but have no experience, and no facility for reading unsolicited scripts (specific exceptions being Middle Child’s recent call-out to read a script which fits with their model of gig-theatre; First Story’s engagement with 14-16 year-olds through its work in schools; a single workshop as part of Grow Festival at Hull Truck, with no follow-up or opportunity to submit further work to Hull Truck, and a fee to take part). A script-reading service and an introductory playwriting course were both services which Hull Truck provided, and which discovered and gave professional opportunities to new writers, until it made the decision not to have a literary department. This leaves a real gap, which means that Hull lags behind similar cities in the nurturing and developing of writers’ voices.

ii. potential solutions to this problem. These included: - week long writers’ residentials, such as one Dave Windass had recently run with First Story at Lumb Bank Arvon Centre. - honesty from Hull Truck about its commitment to developing / ability to support new plays or artists at a grassroots / emerging level. At the moment the theatre claims to be interested in supporting this work, but individual experiences of artists and companies within the city have shown that the theatre doesn't always follow best practice, and opportunities are very few. - is there a way which companies in the city who are interested in training writers, reading and developing new scripts, working with writers or new work in any way (companies such as Middle Child, Silent Uproar, The Herd, Roaring Girls, Ensemble 52) could support a Literary Officer between them? The literary equivalent of the Hull Independent Producer Initiative which Helen has done this year?

Possible functions of the role: reading and developing new writers and new plays; a genuine desire to see new work being made in the city, and an ability to seek out and develop voices from communities which are currently under-represented on the city's stages; reading scripts and placing promising writers with specific projects for the various companies; organising introductory workshops for people interested in learning to write; pairing emerging writers with more experienced mentors as part of their professional development; attending readings and performances in order to have a broad overview of theatre in the city. - Action to be taken: contact companies who might be interested in sharing a literary officer to arrange a meeting for figuring out next steps