A word from our Chair, Kevin, about the New Writing Festival
I remember coming along to see the very first New Writing Festival in 2011 and being blown away by the creativity and simplicity of the event.
I’d been a volunteer for less than a year, so the Dilys Guite Players were still new to me. I didn’t know what to expect, and hearing that it would be performed in 'blacks' (i.e. black shirts and black trousers) on a black stage with minimal lighting and tech, made me curious. But from the moment it started, the simple staging, solid performances and brilliant new writing drew me in.
Skip forward a few months to Annie Bethell, convincing me to direct 'one little piece' for the next New Writing Festival. I hadn’t directed before; acting was where I thought my contribution to the DGP would be, and I’d only been in a few things on stage. But Annie talked me into it, and thank goodness she did. However, I will gloss over the fact that ‘it’s only one little piece’ turned into three in the end. Annie can be very persuasive! But the truth is, I loved working on that New Writing Festival. It was such fun to do, and the writers enjoyed discussing the development of the pieces.
I wish I still had all three scripts, but I don’t. The only one in my box of theatre memories is Occupational Hazard by David Adair. It’s a little piece you can read yourself as he’s since published it in his 'Shorts: 4 bite-sized plays representing English life' collection.
There’s just something about the New Writing experience that I can’t quite explain. They’re genuinely fun to do and give new people a chance to get involved in a bite-sized piece of theatre that lets you see if acting, directing, writing or being backstage is for you. Invariably you end up becoming completely hooked, and this little taste of directing led me to create some wonderful pieces of theatre with the DGP, including my dream of directing Blithe Spirit.
But let’s not forget that New Writing evolved to bring us spin-off projects such as New Directions and Write On! in 2013 and 2019.
Then in 2020, during the pandemic, we created Lantern Online, which allowed writers, actors and directors to rehearse and perform remotely, filming the pieces for our YouTube channel. This also brought some festive fun at a time when it was much needed. And in 2022, we had our Anniversary Special bringing new and classic New Writing pieces to you over two different productions. Now, in 2023 we see some excellent new pieces on stage, and for the first time, we have a ‘pay what you can’ event that sees tickets available from just £1 (booking fees do apply) when bought online.
And to think, it all started from a little idea by Dani Becket and TJ Brown with a bit of help from Annie Bethell.
Book now for this wonderful event http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/thelanternsheff