Briony Dunn on Radical Acts Writing Festival

Radical Acts is a festival for our She Rights Collective where they get to take over the venue for 10 days whilst immersing themselves in their work as a writer, be challenged creatively in workshops, get to know industry artists as they’re mentored by those artists, take excerpts of their work to audiences, hear what it’s like for directors to direct their work and actors to say their words and also then exploring pathways on an industry roundtable. The festival involves 10 writers, 8 directors, 15 actors and 17 guest artists.

Theatre Works’ Literary Development Manager, Briony Dunn, has been overseeing the She Writes program since 2020, leading the writers through workshops and masterclasses throughout last year’s lockdown. Reflecting on the process of the program and the Radical Acts festival, Briony had this to say:

The progress throughout the She Writes program for each writer has been different for each of the writers because everyone was at a different stage of experience and awareness of writing for theatre when they began. Some had 1-2 plays staged before and were dramaturges, some are screen writers, some are working on their fourth play, and some have written books and this is the first time they’ve had to discover what is it like to write a monologue for the stage.

“What I’ve seen across the board is a shift in confidence in the writers as they write in theatrical form, and as they connect with each other. One of the many things that COVID caused was a disconnection amongst artists and writing can be quite a solitary thing. So it was great for artists to be connected to an organisation into a company. So I’ve really seen a change in what writers see is possible in their relationships with organisations and that’s really important to us at Theatre Works. We see Theatre Works as playing a role for new writers developing their work and stretching their ideas in a theatrical form, because we have the space to help them do that. But we also want to help them figure out what they want in their career and who they want their stories to be talking to – who are their audiences? What kind of stages should their plays on? Is it the Theatre Works stage? If so, brilliant. Or is another stage more appropriate? We see it as part of our role to help artists find not only their voice, but also to think about their audience.”


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