Squint award for low-income playwrights

Published: 9 April 2023
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Squint Playwriting Award Squint Playwriting Award

Applications are now open for the Squint Playwriting Award.

Offered in collaboration with Theatre Royal Stratford East, Hackney Empire, Applecart Arts and Arts Council England, award-winning theatre company Squint’s new award provides local playwrights for whom funding is a barrier to career progression with the Living Wage for contact hours during their participation and a programme of educational events.

Travel expenses will also be covered and bursaries are available for other costs that may be incurred in the period, and, in addition to the six months of workshops and classes, each participant will have a specially matched mentor.

Those eligible to apply for the ten places in this pilot scheme will be early career playwrights based in East London and have low income backgrounds.

Submissions may be in written or audio/video form, to be received by 8 May and to be followed by selection workshops on 19 and 20 May.

Andrew Whyment, artistic director of Squint, and Lee Anderson, literary associate of Squint, said, “as a new work company comprised of artists from low-income backgrounds, we know first-hand how a lack of money, few industry contacts and feelings of imposter syndrome hold artists back. It’s the talented playwrights who struggle to pay bills and have to work second and third jobs just to scrape by who are often the first to leave our industry. So we’re doing something about it. Our programme will discover, develop and champion ten exceptional playwrights of the future.”

Programme events will run one or two times per week from 5 July delivered by a range of Squint practitioners. Artists including Debbie Hannan, Kane Husbands, Sami Ibrahim, Sid Sagar, Elliot Warren and Ross Willis.

Theatre Royal Stratford East will host an industry showcase on 3 November with the winner of the award announced the following week.

The winner will receive The Squint Playwriting Award and a Writer’s Guild of Great Britain one-act full-length play commission, comprising a commissioning fee and six months of mentorship and dramaturgical support.

This year’s event is a pilot programme for what is hoped will be an annual award. Industry publication The Stage has reported that 89% of performers and theatre workers think the cost-of-living crisis will force those on low incomes and artists from working class backgrounds out of the industry, a particular point at issue for the London Borough of Newham which has the second lowest level of engagement in London (after Barking and Dagenham).

*Some links, including Amazon, Stageplays.com, Bookshop.org, ATG Tickets, LOVEtheatre, BTG Tickets, Ticketmaster, LW Theatres and QuayTickets, are affiliate links for which BTG may earn a small fee at no extra cost to the purchaser.

Are you sure?