Writers’ encouragement award for Theatre Absolute

Published: 15 April 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Theatre Absolute writer / artistic director Chris O’Connell
Producer Julia Negus

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has awarded Coventry-based Theatre Absolute an Olwen Wymark Award for “exceptional encouragement of theatre writing”.

Theatre Absolute was formed in 1992 by producer Julia Negus and writer / artistic director Chris O’Connell. Since 2018, they have commissioned more than 25 writers to produce work which has been performed or read at the Shop Front Theatre in Coventry city centre.

During the pandemic, O’Connell, Negus and projects co-ordinator Lisa Franklin continued to offer development and mentor support including hosting their writing and dramaturg workshops online and even providing writing exercises through the post.

The company has also expanded its writing work with a programme called City Voices, offering workshops for writers of all levels. Some of these writers have secured commissions on the Royal Shakespeare Company's Faith project as part of the City of Culture events for 2021.

Alexandra Johnson, who nominated Theatre Absolute for the award, said, "their support for writers has been amazing. They're always there for writers with advice, help and encouragement. They’re such an asset to the writing community. I'm really thankful for all their help."

O'Connell commented, "we’re thrilled to receive such a prestigious national award from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. We’ve been working hard over the years to support and nurture writers and artists in the city, so this is a lovely accolade, not just for us but also for Coventry.”