Tag Archives: Writers Resources

The Jack announces first Playwright in Residence

The Jack Studio is pleased to appoint Howard Colyer as our first playwright in residence.

The Jack has a strong tradition of supporting playwrights, and of promoting and presenting new writing throughout the year. We present an annual new writing festival, Write Now, for playwrights with an association to the area, and also run regular Scratch Nights as well as the Jack Writers’ Workshop for playwrights with scripts in development.

Howard Colyer’s appointment as playwright in residence, till Spring 2016, continues the venue’s strong association with this writer, who has had nine plays produced at the venue.

In January and February 2015, Ballast Theatre will be bringing Colyer’s new adaptation of Boris Godunov to the Jack, and his three original plays Without Reluctance and Without Relief.


Howard ColyerHoward Colyer’s family comes from south east London. His father and mother were both born in Peckham and they met at the New Cross Palais in 1943, which is now The Venue.  Howard Colyer was born in 1961 near Brixton Hill.  He went to school in Streatham and left when he was sixteen.  But later he took his A Levels in Croydon and then studied history at university, Keele and Illinois State.

However circumstances forced a change of direction and in 1989 he started his career in computing. Soon afterwards, in his spare time, he started writing fiction. He has written many short stories and a few novels. He also published a translation of Kafka’s Letter to my Father.

In 2008 Colyer started to write plays. One of the first of these was an adaptation of the letter, Kafka v Kafka, which was staged at the Jack Studio in 2012. His other plays include The Good Analyst (2010), The Overcoat (2011), Conference Call (2011), Homework (2011), Finchley Road (2012), Trojan Women (2013), Mandrake (2013), Never Have I Seen Mount Fuji (2013), Flight (2014), Marriage (2014), Diary of a Madman, (2014). Howard Colyer is a Millwall fan, as was his father and his grandfather. According to Howard, not many season ticket holders at The Den translate Kafka. Dante is more popular.


Press Quotes:

‘Howard Colyer both breaks ground and excavates characters in the manner of a ballroom dancer wielding a pickaxe. This carefully matched, superbly produced selection of short plays illustrates just how consistently and boldly he does so.’ EXTRA! EXTRA! on Never Have I Seen Mount Fuji

‘Howard Colyer’s adaptation is admirably compact and full of witty and elegant dialogue… most surprising thing I came away with was how current the play is for audiences 170 years on.’ Everything Theatre on Marriage

‘Colyer’s pared-down style is so effective at delivering weighty themes with a light touch.’ Atomies on Trojan Women

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Write Now 6 is launched!

The Jack Studio Theatre is proud to launch Write Now 6, our annual new writing festival that will open in May 2015 for four weeks. The Festival exists to discover the best new playwriting talent, and give writers the opportunity to see their work developed and performed.

Write Now 6

Write Now 6 Information

One selected play will be given a full production at the Jack Studio Theatre in May 2015. Two further plays will be given a week’s workshop time and three staged readings during the Festival. In addition, each of the three winning writers is allocated development time with a director and dramaturg to examine and explore their play further; financial support to attend rehearsals and performance; and career development and advice.

In 2015 we are looking for bold new voices and stories that engage with and reflect contemporary culture and society.

All playwrights who submit must have a strong connection to south east London.


We are now accepting submissions of scripts. The deadline for this year’s applications is Friday 30 January 2015. Full guidelines and a 2015 application form are available to download from our website http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/writenow/the-festival/

We will also be announcing the short play’s submission details in December. (Six ten minute plays will open the Festival, and writers from across the UK and beyond are welcome to apply). Please check back for further details.

Reading Panel
The 2015 play reading panel is led by Jack Artistic Director Kate Bannister, and consists of the Jack’s associated artists and industry professionals. For Write Now 6 we are pleased to welcome back Lin Coghlan (Eastenders, Soho Theatre, National Theatre), Franko Figueiredo (StoneCrabs Theatre), Simon James Collier (Okai Collier Company) and Vinay Patel (previous Write Now winner) to help in the final selection of plays.

The Festival is supported by the London Borough of Lewisham and in 2013 and 2014 received Arts Council England funding through Grants for the Arts

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Scratch is back!

ScratchScratch at The Jack was set up in 2009 by Tanith Lindon (Jack Associate Director) to provide a regular platform for acts and artists, from a wide range of performance disciplines, to try out and develop new work in front of an audience. We met up with Tanith to talk about how the Scratch nights work and why the audience is vital in developing new material.


Tell us about the Scratch nights

The whole idea behind Scratch at The Jack was to provide a home for artists making new work and for audiences interested in seeing something absolutely fresh off the page. We’ve had a variety of so many types of art form: readings of plays, monologues and short films, performed extracts, physical theatre, clowning, character comedy, sketch comedy, cabaret, storytelling, spoken word, poetry reading…and probably more that I have forgotten now!

When you’re devising work, or starting out writing, you really need to see how things work in practice and the beauty of Scratch is that you can show as little as the first 5 minutes of an idea or character, and get feedback on it. We don’t charge the writers/performers to enter a piece into Scratch, so it carries a much lower risk (and time frame) than most opportunities to perform on a London stage.

What makes a successful Scratch night?

I think the night works best with a real mix of pieces; that way it’s varied for the audience and hopefully the different groups performing can get some inspiration from someone doing something a bit different to them. We get very giving and supportive audiences, as well as a lot of regulars who come back each time.

The only thing that I’ve found doesn’t work is straight stand up. It’s tough for a stand up to go on to a stage that’s just had some very quiet emotional physical theatre piece and work up some laughs; on the other side it’s also not great when an audience gets given a bit of a grilling by a stand up with an aggressive style.

The night is about support and openness to experiment with work – and I think stand ups have the toughest time as it’s hard to feel that their work has been a success unless they get laughs.


How important is the audience for Scratch?

Essential! The whole point is to test out ideas and give the acts an experience that can really challenge them and hopefully guide their work. It can be very easy to forget about your audience as an artist, as the process of creating work can be so introspective. Scratch gives the audience a chance to tell artists exactly what they liked, and what just didn’t communicate.

We give all the audience members a form when they come in and encourage them to write down and tweet @BrocJackTheatre what they think worked and what could be improved upon for each act. It’s really interesting to see the comments they make – sometimes they can be so insightful, and I’ve had performers tell me that the feedback has really shaped the development of their work – whether that be in deciding the correct direction of the piece, or dropping something altogether as it clearly didn’t work!


How do you typically programme the nights?

I used to have to spend a lot of time approaching performers and writers to take part, but now we have enough of a name that most of the people involved come to me (via email). There’s no particular thing that I’m looking for, but I try to put acts together that will complement one another, and I won’t programme something if I don’t think it’s going to work or is really not at a stage where it is ready to be performed to a paying audience.


Any success stories?

Seeing an artist return to Scratch, clearly having taken on an audience member’s idea is a great feeling. Likewise, it’s wonderful when you get to see the finished product of an idea that began its life at Scratch.

A young theatre company called Antler http://www.antlertheatre.co.uk/ scratched less than 10 minutes of a story last year; at the time it was clear that they had something special happening between them, and I was delighted to eventually see the full show at The Bush Theatre’s Radar Festival last autumn (following a really successful summer at Edinburgh festival).

More recently, there’s been exciting news for other past Scratch regulars: Rob Auton http://www.robauton.co.uk/ was made Poet in Residence at this year’s Glastonbury Festival and comedians Max & Ivan http://maxandivan.com/ have just recorded a pilot show for Radio 4. It’s wonderful to think that we have formed some part of their continuing journey!


The next Scratch nights are Sunday 5th October and Sunday 14th December at 6pm

Tickets can be booked via our website www.brockleyjack.co.uk

To take part in a future Scratch event email Tanith: scratch@brockleyjack.co.uk

Huge thanks to http://shiftworkproductions.wordpress.com/ for the Scratch video

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Write Now playwright wins place on BBC Writersroom 10

BBC writersroomThe Jack Studio is pleased to announce that playwright Carol Vine has won a place on the prestigious BBC Writersroom 10 programme.

BBC Writersroom 10 is a ‘partnership programme for writers and theatres – marking the importance of theatre as the first home for many brilliant writers in the UK, and investing in writers and new theatre writing at an early stage.’


Carol’s play Borderland was one of the winning plays chosen for Write Now 3, the Jack’s annual new writing festival, and was directed by our Artistic Director Kate Bannister. Carol was one of several writers nominated for a place by the theatre.

The programme will last for one year and the 10 playwrights will convene as a group. Each writer will also have a BBC mentor to broaden their scriptwriting horizons and bring a fresh perspective to their work.

This is a great opportunity for Carol and emphasises The Jack’s commitment to local playwrights through our annual new writing festival and ongoing writing programmes.

To check out this year’s festival, please visit: http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/writenow/the-festival/

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Jack Writers’ Workshop: Writing for One

Jack Writers’ Workshop 2013


For our 2013-2014 Season we introduce a new workshop: Writing for One.


Ever wanted to write a successful vehicle for yourself or an actor to play but didn’t

know where to start? This workshop gives you the tools to create and find the

essence of your stage persona, alongside exploring different approaches of how

best to tell your story on stage.


Writing for One

This is a practical workshop for the writer to gain experience and confidence in

standing up in front of an audience. We will look at identifying suitable subjects for

your show, and then developing a workable script and stage techniques.

The course will include improvising material and gaining feedback, while

developing an individual, engaging stage persona.


Writing for One is led by Jack literary manager and playwright, David Bottomley,

who developed and performed his own one man show, Message In A Bottle at

the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012.


The Jack Writers’ Workshop consists of seven two-hour workshop sessions. The

course takes place over four months to allow time for writers to continue

developing and rewriting material in between sessions. At the end of the course

you should aim to realise a polished ten minute piece for performance.

The course will culminate with a selection of the strongest pieces being

performed in front of a ticketed audience at the Jack Studio in early Spring 2014.


The cost of the full workshop is £95 which is payable in advance.

Places are limited and will be filled on a first-booked basis online.

Please send an email to writers@brockleyjack.co.uk with your name, contact

details and short writing CV, if applicable, to receive details of how to make

payment for the course. Places are confirmed on receipt of payment.


Workshops take place on various Monday evenings at 7.30pm-9.30pm at the

Brockley Jack Studio Theatre. This workshop is open to writers of all experiences.

Workshops start promptly at 7.30pm. Attendance at all workshops is necessary in

order to build trust and group support for fellow writers’ development as well as

your own.

Course dates: 7th October, 28th October, 4th November, 25th November, 2nd December, 6th January, 20th January

(14 participants max)


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