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Project information

Young Writers Festival

The Young Writers Festival will give young people aged 26 and under the opportunity to have their play professionally produced at the Royal Court - the premier new writing theatre. The Festival opens up the world of theatre to 1000s of young people, as writers, participants and audience members.

December 2010 - August 2011

Charity information: Royal Court Theatre (English Stage Company)

Royal Court Theatre (English Stage Company) logo
  • Need


    It is essential to the health of the arts in this country that we inspire young people to consider playwriting as a relevant form of expression: We need new plays by new voices to keep theatre fresh, original and engaging. This is essential to diversifying and appealing to younger audiences, creating theatre that is reflective of the world we live in today. We must also give young writers opportunities to hear their work spoken aloud by actors - a crucial stage in their development.


    In spring 2012 the Royal Court will host the Young Writers Festival, a celebration of new plays and exciting young writers for whom this will be their first professional production. The Festival features productions, short plays, rehearsed readings and workshops, preceded by months of nationwide play development, support and mentoring. We expect to receive 500+ script submissions, all of which receive individual feedback, and reach an audience of over 5,000, many attending for the first time.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Give young people the skills and opportunities to nurture and develop their playwriting talents


    » Work with educational partners and theatres across the UK to engage a broad spectrum of young people aged 8-25 and teach them the craft of playwriting
    » Read and respond to all of the scripts submitted to the Festival and give individual feedback and support to applicants from expert script readers
    » Run workshops, readings and tutorials for the most promising Festival applicants to develop their playwriting technique and scripts

    What success will look like

    Success will be...giving individual feedback from our script panel to everyone that submits a script; offer 40+ writers further development, eg, a workshop, tutorial, reading.

    Aim 2

    Stage a two-month long Young Writers Festival in spring 2012


    » Stage a programme of new work exclusively by young writers aged 26 and under including two professional productions of new plays
    » Develop and produce at least one short play by a writer aged 8 - 18 years old, discovered through targeted schools workshops
    » Stage a range of work across all spaces at the Royal Court, including rehearsed readings and workshops, to create an energetic and inclusive Festival

    What success will look like

    Success will be...an eclectic programme of new plays by young writers including productions, shorts and readings with the writers involved in all aspects of the production process.

    Aim 3

    Engage a young audience and inspire them to consider playwriting as a form of self-expression


    » Subsidise tickets for school groups, offer concessions to students, and limit top price tickets to £20 (£10 on Monday nights)
    » Offer schools workshops and education activities around the Young Writers Festival to engage pupils aged 8+ with the project
    » Use online marketing and social networking websites to reach younger audience members
    » Set up peer networks with Festival writers and participants, involving them in the marketing of this project to their peers, friends and colleagues

    What success will look like

    Success will be...receiving audiences of over 5,000 during the Festival, at least 33% of whom are under 26 or visiting the theatre for the first time.

  • Impact


    The Festival is a launch-pad for budding playwrights as critics, industry professionals, peers and audiences see their work for the first time and is the beginning of a writer’s career. It will refresh and invigorate the Royal Court’s repertoire and reach new audiences that we will continue engaging. Success is a 10% rise in applications to writing groups post-Festival; two new commissions to Festival writers; critical and industry recognition; and repeat bookings by first-time theatre-goers.


    There is a risk that some of the writers and plays may take longer to develop than a usual production, because they are new and this is the first time that they have worked in a professional theatre. Our experience in running writers groups and past Festivals means that we are uniquely placed to offer them the support they need and ensure that their play is realised in the best possible way. Mentoring and dramaturgical advice will be given and writers encouraged to form peer support networks.


    Donors will receive regular email reports on the Festival as it develops and a full summary at the project end of its achievements and our future plans. We will involve supporters through advance information, production news, special funder events and invite donors to see work in the Festival.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £165,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £40,000 2 productions Rehearsal & development of 2 full productions
      £30,000 2 productions Set and production costs
      £30,000 2 productions Running 2 full productions in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, each for 3 weeks +
      £23,250 Short plays & public reading Rehearsal & production of two short plays by writers as young as 8 years old and 4 public readings
      £11,300 Script reading Script reading fees
      £9,000 Marketing Publicity and audience development including creation of a micro-site
      £11,750 Staffing Fees for Studio Administrator & Assistant, who will deliver the Festival
      £9,700 Project management Staffing, administration and overheads including travel and rehearsal room hire
  • Background


    The Festival will take place at the Royal Court, located in Sloane Square, London. The Royal Court has two theatre spaces - its main auditorium seats 400 and the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, where much of the Festival will happen, is a flexible space seating 90. Adjacent to the Royal Court is a dedicated building for the Writers Programme, including rehearsal spaces, writers rooms and the Literary Office. We hope that the Festival may also take place in other locations, reaching wider communities.


    More than 5,500 people will directly benefit from the Young Writers Festival, as writers, participants and members of the audience. Ticket subsidies, a targeted marketing campaign and education workshops will make the Festival affordable, accessible and inviting for young people. The Young Writers Festival can be a genuine life-changing experience. It has launched the careers of many now-established writers including Simon Stephens, Leo Butler, Alia Bano and Bola Agbaje.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Royal Court has a longstanding reputation for identifying and nurturing new writers. It is widely regarded as the international home of new writing and a world-class centre for developing the brightest talent and generating new, young audiences for this work. The Young Writers Festival is unparalleled in its scope and ambition. It is the most prestigious and open event of its kind and a proven model for young writers to develop and be produced.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dominic Cooke

    Artistic Director at the Royal Court and responsible for the artistic vision and programming of the organisation.

    Chris Campbell

    Chris Campbell is the Royal Court's Literary Manager. He has close relationships with new and established playwrights and manages the Studio.

    Clare McQuillan

    Studio Administrator with day-to-day responsibility for delivering the Young Writers Festival, as well as all of the Royal Court's writers groups.