Hello! I’m Emma Prendergast and I am a working-class, writing-focused actor-deviser most recently working as an actor playing Athena in the National Theatre’s The Odyssey, a project that featured over 160 community artists! I am interested in writing and telling stories that centre Queer, Disabled, Working class people; to explore how they navigate the world or maybe how the world navigates them!
I grew up in Romford Essex and had never met anyone who had built career as a writer, actor or in any sector of the arts. I was the first in my family to go to university and until then I often felt I didn’t have the language, connections or the financial support to access programmes critical to my development as a young artist.
Last year I became profoundly deaf in my right ear overnight and suddenly had a lot of time to recover and assess what I wanted to do and how to develop myself as a creative. I was searching for writing groups who focused on new writers that were specifically neuro-diverse, Deaf and Disabled when I came across Vital Xposure. This programme has been central to my confidence as a new writer, where I could turn up authentically as myself and use all my energy in learning rather than masking – this was a shared feeling amongst the group! I feel I have built a thick toolkit of writing skills, taught by extraordinarily skilled and diverse mentors.
I am passionate about creating work that has snappy dialogue, poetry, strong visual elements, physical theatre and I am looking to expand my technical skills so I can explore multi-sensory theatre with the aim of creating shows with both visual and auditory storytelling. I am interested in projects that lead with accessibility, inclusion and equity.
The piece I am developing with Vital Xposure’s Writers Programme is named ‘I Hear You.’ I hope it is a complex exploration of identity politics and opens up conversations about language, class and access/lack of access to disability support – all whilst making you chuckle. I hope audiences of deaf, queer, and working class people find parts of their story within it, and I get to hear how their experiences have influenced and moulded their characters.
My top writing tip would be: The satisfaction of telling people you are writing can feel more satisfying than writing itself and stop you from actually creating; make first, tell second! Be curious! Be playful. Be precise. Be clear. Have good snacks. And take a nap! We deserve to be here, and we shouldn’t have to diminish our access needs to.
I hope the industry continues to employ, listen and learn from Disabled artists; and then put that learning into action for the next generation; and I am committed to ensuring my practice continuously develops as I listen and learn, with ever-changing expansion.
Emma Prendergast (a.k.a. Em) (she/them), Wellspring Writer 2023 – 2024
Emma is a deaf, working class, writing-focused actor-deviser. The stories they develop often centre conversations around queerness, class, and disability, informed by their lived experience. They love poetry, visual narrative, and stories filled with joy.
Credits include: A Christmas Carol Hulltruck/Leeds Playhouse, MESSY, ZOOCO; The Witchfinder’s Sister, Queens Theatre Hornchurch. Script development/R&D include: Queens Theatre Hornchurch Youth Company plays; BOSSY, ZOOCO
X (formerly known as Twitter): @EmmaPrender