February 2021 sees the Traverse starting a programme that is its biggest creative development activity ever and comes under the name of First Stages Festival.
This new Festival is a celebration of the Traverse’s commitment to nurturing and supporting new voices, and expanding the skills of new and experienced creatives with the ambition of producing ever more meaningful experiences for audiences. It offers a wide range of interactive workshops, Q&As, readings and creative prompts for first time writers and seasoned theatre makers alike. Every event in the programme will be open for anyone in the world to participate in.
Highlights include live focused workshops covering a variety of topics with writers Ella Hickson, Hannah Lavery, Nessah Muthy, Simon Stephens, Robbie Gordon and Jack Nurse and a special Q&A session with internationally acclaimed theatre maker Enda Walsh.
An on-demand, free-of-charge four-part workshop for first-time writers will be presented by writer Meghan Tyler entitled Anyone Can Write A Play. Each weekday, a prompt will be released to get creative thinking cranked up.
A group of writers, Dipo Baruwa-Etti, Serafina Cusack, Michael John O’Neill, Emilie Robson and Isla van Tricht, who submitted their work to the Traverse’s 2019 Open Submissions initiative, will livestream readings to round off the Festival. The group has been working over the past year to develop their scripts with Traverse Literary Associate, Eleanor White and the readings will be directed by Traverse Co-Artistic Director, Gareth Nicholls and Co-Artistic Director Designate, Debbie Hannon. Each reading will be followed by a Q&A with the writers, hosted by acclaimed playwrights including Douglas Maxwell, when audiences can contribute to the future development of the pieces.
Eleanor White says “I am thrilled that the Traverse is beginning the year with First Stages Festival – a celebration of creative development and dynamic new voices. Supporting writers in developing their craft is one of the Traverse’s fundamental commitments, and we’ve continued this work in earnest over the past year. This programme of workshops, Q&As and readings is designed to generate conversations about creative writing and new ways of thinking about theatre – where established artists, aspiring creatives, and audience members can come together, get involved, expand their creative horizons and plot a course forward together. We’re particularly delighted to share with the world readings from five form-pushing, thought-provoking plays currently in development – and to invite the input of our audiences into the future of these pieces, an exchange that’s vital to the theatrical process.”
First Stages Festival runs from Monday 1st to Sunday 28th February with tickets and full details available at the Traverse website. A limited number of £1 tickets will be available for all ticketed events to those in receipt of government benefits and allowances.