Salisbury Fringe want scripts for monthly ‘Scratch Nights’

 Salisbury Fringe are creating monthly ‘Scratch Nights’ where you can test out new work in a safe and supportive arena. We have a venue – The Pheasant Pub, in Salisbury –  and we have actors. We just need some scripts. So it’s over to you…. It won’t cost you anything although you might want to buy an actor a pint afterwards.
Please read the attached document for details or visit our website or facebook page.
Salisbury Scratch Fringe
Author-Andrew Thackeray

Poetika are calling for poetry submissions for 2 different poetry festivals.

Salisbury Fringe Festival and Salisbury Literary Festival are both calling for poetry submissions.

 Poetika at the Salisbury Fringe: Call for Dramatic Poetry (closing date 30/9/2017)

Salisbury Fringe – the established festival of cutting-edge drama by local writers performed in a variety of informal venues during the first weekend in October. Poetika’s mission at the Fringe is to bring poetry to the drama. Poetika are seeking works of ‘dramatic poetry’ for the event, where they will be performed by professional actors.

Submissions close on  Saturday 30th September. E to email your pieces (5 mins max) to .

To find out more about the Salisbury Fringe follow this link

City of Poems’ (Salisbury Literary Festival ): Call for Poems about Salisbury (closing date 30/9/2017)

New this year- The Salisbury Literary Festival is  taking place over the last weekend of October it will be a feast of readings, talks and workshops, celebrating the best in literature by writers with a local connection and some from further afield.

Poetika has an event – City of Poems – as part of the festival, where in addition to presenting some of the best known poems written about the city, Poetika will be reading a selection of works specially written for the Festival by local people. Send Poetika Salisbury poems (max 5 mins) to be read at the event. Poetika is also creating a pamphlet of chosen poetry which will be on sale at the event and at other venues in town (all sale proceeds going to Poetika’s adopted charity, Childrens Chance).

You have until midnight on Saturday 30th September to email your pieces (5 mins max) to

More about the Salisbury Literary Festival here:


BUW founder member Roy Chatfield finalist in inaugural Terrence Rattigan Society award.

Roy Chatfield

Roy Chatfield

Andover Playwright Roy Chatfield is one of the seventeen writers shortlisted for the inaugural Terrence Rattigan Society award. His play Going Back is an updating of Ulysses return to modern-day Central Africa.
The judges – writer Julian Fellowes, actor David Suchet, director Thea Sharrock and academic Dan Rebellato – are now reading the shortlisted entries and will announce their decision at an awards ceremony at Harrow School on 26 September 2017.
The winner receives a cash prize and a guaranteed production of at least six nights at the Sara Thorne Theatre, Broadstairs, with a rehearsed reading on offer to the runner-up.
Roy said ‘I’m delighted to be shortlisted. As the closing date for entries was last August, I’d assumed I hadn’t made it. They obviously read all the scripts thoroughly.’
The competition received 197 entries, of which seven were ineligible – always read the rules! Competitions such as this are a good way of promoting your work as they aim to discover unknown writers.

Pop up play writing courses in your own home, village hall or care home

POP UP PLAYWRITING with Angela Street

Angela Street contacted Big Up Words with an idea to help writers in rural areas. This is a pilot scheme and could be a feature if there is enough uptake. Anglea runs many successful playwriting groups in Salisbury and her pupils are having plays produced in London and closer to home. Her new venture brings the writing closer to your home.

Angela Street

Angela Street


Popping up anywhere in the South West. Providing affordable writing workshops. The workshop comes to you, saving you travel costs and time.

Days available from 5 May: Mondays, Tuesdays, some Saturdays, Sundays

Half days:  10:00 – 1:00   Whole days:  10:00 – 4:00    Evenings:  any 3 hours.

If you’d like to host a workshop in your house or on your premises, and you have space suitable for at least 7 writers, maximum 15 writers, please contact me to arrange a time and date.

As the host, you will get the workshop free and can choose the topic or general theme most suitable for your group if you wish. You must agree on this with the tutor 6 weeks before the date of the workshop so that the tutor can prepare relevant material and advertising copy.

Topics may include: creating characters, dialogue, structure, conflict, stage directions, subtext, unblocking, comedy, voice, the absurd. Writing monologues, writing for radio, writing comedy sketches, generating new ideas

Workshops can cover basic techniques for writers new to playwriting through to advanced editing skills, or take the form of a tutored writing retreat.

The tutor will advertise the workshop locally in consultation with the host and will provide flyers for the host to hand out or distribute locally.

The host is asked to provide teas/coffees and in the case of full days either an undramatic lunch or advise participants to bring their own packed lunch.

The host must inform the tutor if they have dogs, cats or other livestock on the premises and agree with appropriate health and safety measures with the tutor.

All workshops are smoke-free, including vapes, and mobile free zones. There will be scheduled breaks.

Access and Parking: the host will be asked to provide information, for example, whether there is wheelchair access or steps into the premises.

Workshops require a minimum of 7 writers to run.  If fewer than 7 people have signed up and paid, the workshop will be cancelled.

Costs: Half day/Evening £25 (15 concs)    Full day £40 (£25 concs)

Please let me know any reasons people have for not attending, such as cost, travel, childcare, access, time, topics covered.

This is a pilot scheme to find out if there is an appetite for affordable writing workshops in rural areas.  If successful, I will apply to the Arts Council for funding to assist writers needing financial help with fees or childcare, to provide rural workshops in wheelchair accessible venues, such as village halls, and also for smaller group sizes, with only 4 or 5 writers.  

 Contact:  01722 322143

If you’d like to know more go over to her website

The Right Direction

I’ve posted about stage directions that are best cut. What should be left?

Whatever is necessary. This will vary from play to play. Some are more visual than others – indeed, that’s true of moments within a play. The important thing is they earn their keep. Basic directions clearly, but anything more needs to serve a purpose.

Some examples:-

  • Tells the part of the story that can’t be put into words. At the end of the first scene of Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist  a disappointed writer puts a gun to his mouth, presses the trigger and shoots himself. At the end of the play the disappointed puts a gun to his mouth, presses the trigger and…lights a cigarette. Read the second the second act of Noises Off to see this done for a whole act.
  • Replaces words. Theatre is a visual medium so actions are often more effective than words. Imagine X handing Y a document. Y reads it through and looks at X. A long pause. X proffers a pen. Y doesn’t take it at first. Eventually he snatches, signs and tosses it to X . You could have a dialogue along the lines of  – ‘I don’t want to sign this’ –  ‘Tough, you have to.’ – but silence conveys more menace.
  • Has a subtext. The character means something by his action which he isn’t saying. Here’s Harold Pinter in The  Caretaker. Ashton has invited Davies, a tramp, back to his brother’s room.Ashton: Sit down.
    (He has to find a chair as there isn’t one)
    Davies: Sit down? … I haven’t had a good sit down…
    I haven’t had a proper sit down…
    (He doesn’t sit down)

    The stage direction indicates that Davies doesn’t want to accept that he is the inferior in the relationship

  • Shows character. In the cherry Orchard one character has squeaky shoes. Why? So you’ll remember who he is  when he reappears after his first brief appearance.

Far Away

London theatre isn’t all £50+ tickets. One of the cheaper venues is the Young Vic, which this November is reviving Caryl Churchill’s Far Away with tickets at £10  and £15.

Churchill is a prolific writer and to me this results in some of her work coming across as staged ideas. At her best, though, she is one of our finest playwrights and Far Away shows her in top form.

So why should a writer make time to see it?  Entries to our Play-in-a-day competition showed many writers attracted to the surreal. The problem was tying their world to the one we know. The characters in Far Away behave naturalistically in non-naturalistic circumstances.

The structure is well worth studying. Three scenes, with a common character, Joan. First she’s a questioning child, second a milliner, third a soldier. We aren’t told what happened in between. Nor do we need to, as Churchill’s theme carries it through.

Finally the writing. Again three contrasts. An adult explaining away something a child shouldn’t have seen; Two workers banter as they design the most ridiculous hat; A family taking a break from a war. Each scene entices you in by hinting at what is happening. (How to solve the problem of writing exposition –  don’t write it). What we finally learn in Joan’s final speech describing her journey to safety that the world has gone mad.

Or is it just us?   The final lesson is how to how to end in ambiguity.


Don’ts For Writers

Browsing in Andover’s Free Bookshop – for those who don’t know it, yes, the books are free – I came across a copy of the US magazine Poetry. Among other attractions was an update of Ezra Pound’s Don’ts For Poets.

Here are three from William Logan that apply to all writers:-

  • Don’t do what all the other little Buggers are doing
  • Don’t think you don’t have to read. You read in order to steal. Read more, steal better. (I’m tempted to repeat that one, it’s so important)
  • Don’t think what you have to say is important. The way you say it is what is important. What you have to say is rubbish.

September 1st Deadlines

Two submission opportunities close on 1 September.

Lion Tamers Theatre

The Liontamers Theatre Company is looking for submissions for our 2015 North West tour.

Cast Size: Strictly between 2 and 4 cast members. We can allow for doubling
however we must be strict on having no more than four actors. We will
particularly welcome scripts with strong female characters.
Technical Requirements: Again no specific limitations except the need to be suitable for a touring
environment where short get in times limit us.
Length: Full length. To appeal to venues we must have the option of including an
interval. (Bar sales, crikey!)

Please e-mail your play to

Bush Theatre Submissions Window

What Are We Looking for?
We are passionate about encountering new playwrights through our unsolicited script submissions. We receive unsolicited play submissions twice a year in dedicated windows, these open in the summer and autumn respectively.

How to Submit
Our Summer/Autumn submission window is open from 9am on 2 June 2014 and closes at 5pm on 1 September 2014. During this period, please email your proposals to and include, as a separate attachment, a fully completed cover sheet which you can download here
We are unable to receive or read unsolicited scripts that are:
• sent to us by post
• without a cover sheet
• not full-length plays (1 hour +)
• previously produced
• from writers from outside of the UK and Ireland
• sent outside our submissions windows.
• that have been previously submitted to us

The Wrong Direction

Theatre readers and literary managers constantly complain about the stage directions in new plays sent to them for reading. there are too many of them.

Perhaps it’s the influence of Samuel French, who publish plays heavy with stage directions. But these are intended for amateurs who lack experience or confidence.

Some don’ts:-

  • Professional actors won’t stand still just because you haven’t told them to move. Trust them to do what comes naturally.
  • Directors don’t need your help blocking the play. If you have directions like ‘X moves downstage left’. cut it.
  • Don’t choreograph fights. That’s the Fight Director’s job. He will also know whether the actors are right or left handed.
  • Don’t state the obvious. If X says ‘have a seat’, Y will sit down. It doesn’t need a stage direction.

Some do’s:-

  • Stick to what’s essential. I read a play in which a character picked up the post and put it on a table, where they lay unopened and unmentioned for the rest of the play.
  • See some recently written plays and read the scripts to see what came from the writer and what from the performance team – but not the acting edition. Some companies sell discounted scripts as an alternative to the glossy programme.

What, then, are good stage directions? That’s for another blog.


The New Well-Made Play?

One of the casualties of the 50’s dramatic revival was the well-made play. Is it returning with a new set of rules? Matt Trueman suggests as much in a recent Stage article.

Rule one is that every character goes on a journey. Rule two is to weave their journeys round musings on some bigger theme. Rule three is to communicate what the play is about by repeated words and themes – not, of course, so obviously that the audience won’t feel a glow of pride at understanding the meaning.

Trueman’s complaint is that great drama doesn’t have a meaning in that sense. It looks at the world and asks ‘what?’.

There is nothing wrong with craftsmanship. The problems start when it outruns inspiration.