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Meet the playwrights

Playwriting Programme 2021

Playwrights' Studio, Scotland are delighted to announce the 15 playwrights who have been selected so far to take part in the 2021 Playwriting Programme.

This Programme consists of the Mentoring Programme (for aspiring and emerging playwrights), New Playwrights Awards (for early career playwrights living in Scotland), Duais airson Sgrìobhadh Dràma Gàidhlig/Gaelic Playwriting Award (for a playwright living in Scotland and writing in Gaelic), and the Professional Programme (for mid-career and established playwrights). This year we also launched the Birds of Paradise & Playwrights' Studio Mentoring Award (for a disabled playwright living in Scotland).

Mentored Playwrights

Leah Byrne is a young Indian-Irish playwright raised in South Wales, with a first-class BA English Literature (Bristol) and more recently an MSc Playwriting at the University of Edinburgh under playwright Nicola McCartney. Whilst at Bristol, Leah was accepted onto a Playwriting programme at the Bristol Old Vic under Chinonyerem Odimba, during which she developed her first one-act play Ars Poetica.

Joanne Gallagher is a playwright and actor from Linwood. She trained at the Oxford School of Drama and has appeared in Film and TV (Outlander, Tell it to the Bees) and had her West End debut in Equus in 2019. She studied English Literature at Glasgow University. She is interested in writing about working-class Scots, romance and how we dance when we're caught in the mire. The Bouncy is her debut play.

Andrea McKenzie is a writer, performer and director from Edinburgh. She studied acting and playwriting at Edinburgh's Telford College and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She has written three plays and several short stories. Her play Aye or No about the Scottish Independence Referendum through the eyes of primary school children was described as a "must see" by the Edinburgh Evening News. Dark comedy After Party about love, excess and karma in the 90s rave scene was shortlisted for the Scottish Short Play Awards.

Katy Nixon is an Edinburgh based writer. Her plays Straight Outta Saughton, Then I Met You and Fingers explore gender and sexuality. She writes a monthly short story for The Leither.

Ellen Ritchie is a playwright from Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire now based in Glasgow. She was on the 2019/20 MLitt Playwriting and Dramaturgy programme at the university of Glasgow. Her first play Hotdog explores the aftermath of trauma and challenges the notion that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".

Catriona Scott is a playwright who spent her formative years abroad and currently resides in St Andrews. She began writing plays in the second year of her undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews. Three of these plays,This Breathing World, her modern adaptation of A Christmas Carol, and Antic Disposition were performed (the latter, with the new title Shakespeare Syndrome) at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016. She graduated in November 2017 from the University of Edinburgh's MSc in Playwriting.

Vivien Reid and Bea Webster continue their Mentoring Programme 2020 with the Mentoring Programme 2021 group.

The playwrights will be mentored by Annie George, John McCann, Adura Onashile, and Stef Smith in an eight month Programme of mentoring sessions which concludes with an individual read-through with professional actors and directors.

Birds of Paradise and Playwrights' Studio Mentoring Award

Jack Hunter graduated from the BA (Hons) Drama & Performance Programme at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in 2017. While studying at QMU, Jack wrote and performed as part of the satirical sketch group That's Bull. In 2018, Jack wrote The Living Newspaper, a short play that questioned the integrity of broadsheet journalism and discussed the issue of data smuggling.

Emily Ingram is a Scottish-based theatre writer, director, performer, and props-maker. Work as a playwright includes critically acclaimed Fringe production The Grandmothers Grimm, a piece exploring how women contributed to - and were erased from - the Brothers Grimm's famous fairy tale anthology; The Sprite In The Dolls House (Palace of Holyroodhouse's Christmas events programme, 2019); and adaptations including Virginia Woolf's Orlando and Aristophanes' The Birds.

Playwrights receive a package of support, which includes a £2,000 cash bursary, six mentoring sessions with a professional playwright, and skills workshops.

New Playwrights Awards

Lewis born and based playwright Kenny Boyle trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and holds a masters in classical and contemporary text, as well as an honours degree in English, literature and theatre studies from the University of Strathclyde. Kenny is passionate about writing theatre that explores the lives of those in rural communities, tackles the stigma of poor mental health, and connects to under-represented audiences.

Zoë Bullock is a writer and performer based in Glasgow, originally from Sheffield. Her work includes Island Chains, Granny Fenella, Little Spoon's Big Adventure, Chamber 404, and 'Till Human Voices Wake Us. She was the Digital Creative Consultant for Scottish Youth Theatre's National Ensemble 2020 show Drip//Slick//Spill. She is currently developing Shō and the Demons of the Deep, a show for family audiences, with Independent Arts Projects.

Isla Robertson is a playwright from Morvern in the west highlands of Scotland. Her work for stage includes The Coffin Race, Fair Play, On Air, The Beginning of Now, Mum, After the Beep, and Body Issues. Her short story, The Beach, was long-listed for The Mogford Prize in 2020. She is currently developing Digging Deeper with 'Soil Voices' as part of Our Living Soil's cultural response to the World Congress of Soil Science Glasgow 2022.

Playwrights receive a package of support, which includes a £2,000 cash bursary, three dramaturgical support sessions, a week-long retreat and a script development workshop with a professional director and actors.

Duais airson Sgrìobhadh Dràma Gàidhlig/Gaelic Playwriting Award

Rona Dhòmhnallach/Rona MacDonald was raised on the family croft on the island of South Uist, and is part of the lost generation of Gaelic speakers, where many were discouraged from connecting with Gaelic language and culture at school, in a time before the Gaelic-Medium revival had begun.  From a family of renowned Gaelic singers, storytellers and pipers she tries to challenge and address this imbalance in her cultural identity through her writing, something that she has been driven to do since her early teens. In the last few years she has written and performed Fuaigh, a Ceilidh Play originally commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland, Chan Urrain Dhomh Falach Nad Theanga/ I Can't Hide in Your Tongue.

Rona will receive a package of support, which includes a £2,000 cash bursary, three dramaturgical support sessions, a week-long retreat and a script development workshop with a professional director and actors.

Professional Programme

Robert Dawson Scott was, for many years, an arts journalist and theatre critic, in which role he founded the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland or CATS in 2003. He chose to start writing for the stage, rather than about it, when he was selected for the Traverse 50 programme in 2013. Since then he has had three plays produced: The Great Train Race (Play Pie and a Pint, 2013, restaged by Firebrand in 2015). Assessment (Shows on a Shoestring 2017) and The Electrifying Mr Johnson (Comar/Mull Theatre 2019).

Among David Hutchison's plays are The Blood is Strong (Finborough, London) and Too Long the Heart (Siege Perilous, Edinburgh). Too Long the Heart was one of the winners of the 2018 Eurodram competition. Some years ago Deadline was presented in repertoire at Pitlochry Festival Theatre. He has twice been a prizewinner in the competition, sponsored by the SCDA and the actor and director Richard Wilson, to find new one act plays. In June 2020 the Awkward Stranger company presented a Zoom version of Breaking Free.

Kathy McKean's plays include Becoming, Gone, Lie to Me, Beneath You, Flooded, and Leave Taking. Most recently, her piece Getting Close was part of the National Theatre of Scotland's Scenes for Survival.

Garry Robson is a disabled actor, writer, Director and occasional musician. Garry's plays have been performed throughout the UK and Scotland. They include The Man Who Lived Twice, Mop the House, Raspberry, Café Missing, The Buddy Bolden Experience and The Irish Giant (Manchester Evening News Award Nominee).

The Professional Programme offers support which we hope is responsive to the needs of experienced mid-career or established professional playwrights. Within the Professional Programme, there are two routes of support available: Bursaries of £500 - £2,000 and creative projects up to £5,000.

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