It seems like an obvious point, but it’s one that we often forget, that no play has ever begun without someone sitting down with an idea and writing the script. The New Theatre has a proud history of self-penned drama, and without new generations of keen and enthusiastic student writers ready to take up the torch, something truly special will be lost.
The opportunity to write absolutely whatever you want, and then to watch a group of people bring it to life is not one that really ever comes around in the professional world, and the number of shows that the New Theatre puts on every season gives budding Shakespeares and Pinters that fleeting and unique chance. So whether you’ve been writing for years, or have never sat down and written dialogue in your life, seize it with both hands and add something new to the ever-growing canon of literature that the New Theatre can call its own. In the past we’ve seen student drama featuring American gangsters, crusaders, tango bars, dragons and re-appropriations of Noah’s Ark! So whatever your idea is, if you want to see it onstage, run with it, push it, and see where it takes you.
Pragmatically, if you want that slot for your play, here are a couple of steps to follow. Remember you’re competing against proposals of plays written by current professionals and literary legends, so it does help to be prepared!
1. Make sure your first draft is finished at least a month before you plan on proposing it. Don’t underestimate how much editing you may need to do.
2. Whilst you’re writing, think about exactly how you want to stage it in terms of set, lighting, costumes etc. If you’re not planning on directing it yourself, make sure your proposed director is working with you the whole way through the writing process. Directors proposing plays that aren’t student written will be focussed upon these aspects – you should be too.
3. Probably the most important point: talk about your play beforehand, and get copies sent to friends. Make sure they read it, make sure they tell everyone how great it is. If the committee is picking student drama without any idea of its quality they’re taking a massive gamble. So make life easy for them and for yourself. A good person to contact with regards to this is Adam Wells, who has had three of his plays selected by the New Theatre. If you have any questions or concerns, he’ll be happy to talk you through them.
‘You never feel as closely attached to a show as when you have written it. Knowing the characters that intimately; having been with them from the first line you tentatively type up to the last one your actors deliver onstage is an unbelievable, unforgettable experience.Working on the three plays the New Theatre has given me the chance to stage, either simply as a writer, or in a directorial capacity as well, has provided me with the Champagne moments of my University experience.’ (Adam H. Wells, writer Deus Vult, Chasing Dragons and The Off-White Horse ’11.)