The Bush theatre has announced a new direction for its continued support of playwrights at the start of their careers, pledging that from 2014 a minimum of one unsolicited script per year will make it to its main house programme.
Announced by Artistic Director Madani Younis at a platform event at the theatre’s RADAR 2012, a three week festival exploring the future of new writing, Younis said he wants the acclaimed Shepherd’s Bush venue to be “a place where ideas and practice can be stimulated, where our history and present collide to reflect and embrace the breadth of new writing.”
As part of its commitment to new writing, the venue launched Bushgreen in 2009 allowing anyone to submit an unsolicited, unproduced play script online. But, as Younis explained when announcing the new direction that the venue is planning to take, the uptake of plays was minimal. “Historically the conversion rate of these unsolicited plays into full production is less than 0.1%. We invest £20,000 per year into resourcing this process of reading and administration. It is clear to us that we are panning for gold in too wider a river with too small a pan. So we ask ourselves ‘is this really the best way to find and nurture talent?’”
The theatre’s answer is its new seasonal Unsolicited Submissions Policy. Rather than a year-round digital platform, the venue will now call out for new scripts twice a year with a three week deadline for submissions. Open to playwrights, solo writers, performers and companies who are developing new writing in the early stages of their careers, anyone summiting must be unrepresented and have had a maximum of one professional production of their work staged.
As part of the new scheme, a group of applicants will be selected from each submission window to be mentored by an artist or company and attend a weekend workshop at the theatre in order to network with other playwrights and to share ideas. A selected group will then be given a seed commission to further develop their work with at least one production making it to the much-lauded venue’s stage.