New writing commissions from Alphabetti Theatre aim to increase under-represented voices in North East theatre.
Listen Up @ Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Alphabetti Theatre is offering 9 micro commissions write a 10-minute audio play. Writers will be paid £100, have their work professionally performed by casts of up to two actors, and hear their work produced and released via Alphabetti Theatre’s online programme.
To apply, writers must identify as one or more of the following: identify as a woman; identify as LGBTQ+; identify as a member of a BAME (Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic) group; live with a physical or cognitive disability.
Alphabetti Theatre’s Listen Up commissions come at a time when many fear the theatre industry’s hard-won gains on increasing diversity is in danger of becoming undone due to the Covid-19 crisis, as reported by The Guardian’s Arifa Akbar on 09/06/2020 (https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/jun/09/covid-19-theatre-diversity). Ali Pritchard, Artistic/Executive Director at Alphabetti Theatre, explains why he decided to launch this scheme now: “Since starting Alphabetti in 2012 we have always strived to be a socioeconomically accessible space, with an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. 99% of our tickets are priced at £10 and under or are part of our Pay What You Feel ticketing policy. We’re not housed in a shiny building – we are based in a space found and repurposed for local artists and audiences.”
Ali goes on to explain, “According to the last census, 14% of the UK population identifies as a member of a BAME (Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic) group, 6% identify as LGBTQ+, 51% identify as women and 24% live with a physical or cognitive disability – so why is the theatrical writing scene dominated by cis, white, heterosexual men? If you want to write professionally, build a longer relationship with Alphabetti and identify as one being part of one of the groups listed, then please apply to Listen Up. There is no age or experience requirement.”
Alphabetti wants to build long-term relationships with writers commissioned through Listen Up. Writers who have taken part in previous similar schemes at Alpabetti have gone on to develop successful careers in theatre. Local writer Arabella Arnott had her first play performed in May 2016 at Alphabetti Theatre as part of a scheme where emerging writers were commissioned to create short “reaction pieces” to an Alphabetti Theatre production. Thanks to the support from Alphabetti, Arabella has gone on to co-found her own theatre company, Coracle, and build a regional presence as a writer. Ali hopes she will soon be recognised nationally for her incredible writing.
Audiences will have a chance to hear audio performances from these writers for free via alphabettitheatre.co.uk from September 2020 and throughout the remainder of the year. Directors will include Ali along with Live Theatre’s Senior Creative Associate – Paul James. The full creative team will be announced soon.
To apply, writers need to provide a short synopsis of the audio play they want to be commissioned, a 5-page example of their writing, and a brief statement to explain why they are applying for this opportunity. For full details visit www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk/writers.
Alphabetti Theatre is currently closed due to Covid-19 and is facing significant uncertainty. Despite this, the theatre remains committed to their audiences and artists. Alphabetti Theatre has launched ‘BETTi Recommends’, a weekly curated selection of free bitesize online content, as well as online performances and the Listen Up writing commissions. You can donate and help save Alphabetti Theatre at www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk.