Wellspring 2023

Professional development programme for disabled, d/Deaf and Neurodivergent playwrights and script writers

Overview (click to skip to content)

Programme details

Writers

Tutors

Showcase director

Partners

Wellspring Writers New Work

Read about the plays written by the cohort in 2023-2024. Selected excerpts were presented to industry professionals at a showcase event at Soho Theatre in February 2024.

Wellspring Writers blog

Meet the 2023-2024 Wellspring Cohort, find out more about their interests, passions and stories they want to bring on stage. Blogs are published here.

Find out more about Wellspring 2021 – 2022.

Wellspring is funded by City Bridge Trust and the National Lottery Community Fund supported by players of The National Lottery.

We are delighted to announce the launch of the second round of Wellspring, our professional development programme for London-based disabled, d/Deaf and Neurodivergent playwrights and script writers, supported by City Bridge Trust and the  National Lottery Community Fund supported by players of The National Lottery.

Through a series of training sessions led by renowned disabled writers, playwrights and directors, as well as theatre venues’ professionals and peers, and mentoring, Wellspring will provide eight participants with tools and skills to build confidence and foster connections with UK’s theatre sector, in a safe and supportive environment.

We are proud to be delivering Wellspring in partnership with London theatres acclaimed for championing new writing, Bush Theatre, Paines Plough, Soho Theatre, and Theatre503, with support from fellow theatre professionals and peers: Camden People’s TheatreOrange Tree Theatre and BOLD Elephant.

A flavour of the programme from previous participants:

“I have really enjoyed my time with Wellspring, as I feel now that my writing is enhanced by my autistic experience rather than limited by it.”
Paula Brett, Wellspring Writer 2021-2022

“The potential for change was riveting, but partaking in Wellspring galvanised me even further.”
Robbie Curran, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022

“Wellspring has taught me to honour my needs, and has given me the confidence not to fit in, but to assert myself.”
Nicole Latchana, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022

“I’ve found the mentors, tutors and peers very support which has made this initiative quite unique in my experience – and so, very positive.”
Victoria Taylor Roberts, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022

Read more on the Wellspring 2021 – 2022 Writers’ Blog

A few words from programme Partners:

“Paines Plough are hugely excited to be working with Vital Xposure on the second iteration of their Wellspring programme. We can’t wait to meet the new cohort of writers and support them on the next steps of their development journey and for us to also learn from them and their brilliant creative brains and ideas!”

Charlotte Bennett, Joint Artistic Director, Paines Plough

“Soho Theatre are very excited to be part of Vital Xposure’s Wellspring programme this year. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we support the development of disabled artists and programmes like this one are instrumental in doing just that.”

Gillian Greer, Literary Manager, Soho Theatre

Programme details

Wellspring will support 8 London-based disabled, d/Deaf or Neurodivergent writers and playwrights.

Participants will take part in a training course of creative writing; covering character, plot devices and development, tools of inspiration, language and other technical skills essential to writing a script. The training workshops will run from May to July 2023. There will be a combination of online workshops (on Zoom) during weekdays, usually Wednesday evenings (from 6pm), and sessions taking place at partnering theatres, usually on a Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

The workshops will be delivered by renowned disabled writers, playwrights and directors, as well as theatre venues’ professionals and peers.

Participants will then be offered a period of one-to-one mentoring by Vital Xposure and partner organisations to support them to develop and write a script (September – November 2023)

A showcase of script excerpts from all of the writers will be presented at Soho Theatre as part of a rehearsed reading to peers and industry partners (January 2024).

Writers
A white woman with multi-coloured eyes and dark blonde straight / slightly wavy hair a few inches beyond her shoulders smiles and leans towards the camera.
Emma Dawson

Emma is a playwright, who writes about neurodiversity, queer characters, and dysfunctional families.

Her first play, EDIE, received a short run at Theatre503 in 2022 and was developed by London Playwrights Blog/Lion and  Unicorn Theatre, longlisted for Theatre503’s International Playwriting Prize, and shortlisted for Through the Mill Playwriting Prize.

Read Emma’s Wellspring blog piece.

A woman in her late 20s with brown, curly hair and blue eyes looking straight into the camera lens. She's wearing a white jumper with a navy and white pokadot dress over it and brown dangly earrings in the shape of a flower
Ellie Dunn

Ellie has been working in TV and film since 2019 and has seen it all.

She was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of nine, dyspraxia at the age of eleven and by twenty she developed a chronic case costochondritis which she likes to claim is “a bit annoying”.

Read Ellie’s Wellspring blog piece.

A mixed Asian and white young woman with brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a bright pink top and gold necklace. It is a close up of her sitting next to a window with some greenery in the foreground.
Sophia Wai Yee Ginsburg

Sophia Wai Yee Ginsburg is a London and Hong Kong based interdisciplinary theatre maker currently studying for an MFA in Advanced Theatre Practice at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

She was recently lead artist and performer for “Strange Contagions” at Camden People’s Theatre in March 2023.

Read Sophia’s Wellspring blog piece.

Text in white against an orange background reads 'No photo available'
A.L.

A.L.’s work has been shortlisted for the Sky Studios Screen/Play Award, published with The Poetry Society and works-in-progress showcased with Mountview, NSDF and York Theatre Royal.

A Facilitator and Support Worker, she has assisted on projects for National Youth Theatre, Hammersmith Council, Go Live Theatre and Wicked the Musical.

A short haired South Asian man with stubble wearing a white shirt and grey coat.
Mohit Mathur

Mohit Mathur is an Indian actor / dancer / theatre maker, a graduate from the Drama Centre London. Recently seen on the West End show Life Of P”.

As an artist he is currently exploring concepts of Immigration, intergenerational trauma and Britain’s colonial impact on India.

Read Mohit’s Wellspring blog piece.

A woman with white skin. Brown/Mousy brown hair tied back. Wearing a black/dark blue top.
Yaz Nin

Yaz is a Poet and Playwright. Born in Kibris raised in Tottenham Yaz recently had the opening of her monologue It Takes a Village broadcast on BBC London Radio. Yaz has also had several short plays staged across the UK.

Read Yaz’s Wellspring blog piece.

This is an acting headshot of Emma. Emma has shoulder length brown hair, a large smile and warm face. They are wearing a scoop necked navy top.
Emma Prendergast (a.k.a. Em)

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.

Read Em’s Wellspring blog piece.

A white androgynous person with short dark hair. They are standing underneath a willow tree wearing a white and blue patterned shirt.
Jesse Stone

Jesse Stone is crawling back to theatre after a long hiatus because they have a story to tell.

Under a different name, they wrote a one-person show about a sex role play, a two-hander about a nude photograph leaked online and a site-specific play about lesbian witches.

Read Jesse’s Wellspring blog post.

Showcase Director
Indiana Lown – Collins

Indiana (she/her), is a theatre director and is currently Resident Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe. She won the 2022 JMK Young Directors Award with her production of, ‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’ by Jack Thorne which played at the Orange Tree Theatre Oct/Nov 22 and won the OFFIE for ‘Best Production’. Indiana is also currently nominated for ‘Best Debut Director’ at ‘The Stage Debut Awards’.

She started working professionally as a director in 2016 and has had the privilege of working with new writing, Shakespeare and musicals across a number of different and exciting venues.

As an artist Indiana thrives to push boundaries; prioritising working with an uninhibited perspective and wants to make theatre that will evolve her artistic practice towards discovering radical yet sincere forms of expression. Indiana aims to tell stories that expand our understanding of the time and culture we live in. As a disabled artist she is passionate about making theatre that puts disabled voices at the centre of the story and igniting a new way of presenting theatre.

Directing credits include: Romeo and Juliet (Guildford Shakespeare Company), The Purple Princess (GSC) and The Last Supper (Fresh Direction ‘Replay Project’ The Young Vic).

Tutors
Alex is sitting in a lawn chair. She is wearing sunglasses and smiling to the camera.
Alex Bulmer

Named one of the most influential disabled artists by UK’s Power Magazine, Alex has over thirty professional years’ experience across theatre, film, radio and education. She is fuelled by a curiosity of the improbable, dedicated to collaborative practice, and deeply informed by her experience of becoming blind. She is activated by obstacles, well exposed to the absurd, and embraces the disciplines of generosity, listening, and uncertainty within her artistic and personal life.

Her work has been produced with The Royal Court Theatre, Graeae Theatre, London 2012 Olympics, Polka Theatre, Nightwood Theatre , BBC radio, Channel 4 and more.

Alex is co-founder of The Fire and Rescue Team, former artistic director of Common Boots Theatre, and is lead curator of CoMotionFestival 2022 with Harbourfront Centre.

She established the New Writing department with Graeae Theatre in the UK, is writer of award-winning BBC radio drama, writer of the Dora and Chalmers nominated SMUDGE, and co-writer of the BAFTA-nominated television series Cast Offs.

Her interdependent practice infuses blindness and seeing into the arts.

Caroline Horton

Caroline Horton is a theatre maker, performer and writer whose work has toured nationally and internationally. She was nominated for a 2013 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre for You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy, which also won The Stage Awards Best Solo Performer in 2010. Mess opened at The Traverse, Edinburgh in 2012, where it won Best Ensemble at The Stage Awards and was nominated for an Offie for Best New Play.

Her controversial show Islands, opened at The Bush, London in 2015 before transferring to the 2015 British Council Showcase at the Edinburgh Festival. Caroline wrote and performed Tranklements for the New Vic and Penelope RETOLD for Derby Theatre, which toured nationally in 2015. She writes regularly for BBC Radio 4, Paris, Nana & Me was shortlisted for the 2014 Imison Award and she has also written for award-winning series’ Tracks and Home Front. Caroline regularly collaborates with other theatre companies as a deviser, performer, writer and director, recently she’s collaborated as writer/director with Evie Fehilly, Amerah Saleh, Vital Xposure and Coventry City of Culture.

She also mentors artists and companies and leads workshops. Caroline was BBC Birmingham Writer in Residence, working across radio and TV dramas produced in the city. She was 2018/19 Creative Fellow at Birmingham University’s Shakespeare Institute, teaching undergrad and MA students and developing a new piece with The Other Place (RSC). In 2019 she toured her first show for young people, Muckers, made with the egg, Bath and Conde Duque, Madrid and opened her latest solo show All of Me in Edinburgh where it won the Fringe Mental Health Award and a Stage Award, before transferring to The Yard in London. During lockdown she created online and audio versions of All of Me and the original stage version toured in 2022.

Profile photo of a white woman with long blonde hair tied back. She looks to the left and smiles. In the background stack of shelves with books.
Athena Stevens

Athena Stevens is an acclaimed writer, performer director and social activist. She is the Artistic Director of Aegis Productions Ltd and writer on attachment at the Finborough Theatre.

In 2011, Athena made her West End debut, as a writer and actress, in The Amazing Vancetti Sisters and in 2016 her second play, Schism, had its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre. Schism transferred to the Park Theatre in 2018, for which Athena was nominated for an Off West End Award for Best Female Performance, as well as an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.

In 2020, the world premiere of her third play Scrounger opened the Finborough Theatre’s 40th Anniversary season. The production garnered Athena an Off West End Award nomination for Lead Performer and a win for Best New Play.

Athena’s other works include the multi-award winning online series Late Night Starings at High-Res Pixels, the documentary Day of Small Things, as well as curating Shakespeare’s Globe’s new work festival Notes To The Forgotten She-Wolves.

She is a TEDx speaker, a founding member and former spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party, and a founder of the Primadonna Literary Festival.

She is currently under commission with the Donmar Theatre, and The National Youth Theatre.

Tom Wentworth

Tom Wentworth is a writer for theatre and screen. Recent credits include: Glass Town (Bath Theatre Academy/The Egg), Little Bits of Ruined Beauty (Pentabus/Unlimited), Ralph and Katie (BBC One) and Battery (Film4).

His comedy Burke and Hare has currently received three productions, most recently at the New Wolsey, Ipswich. Further credits include: CripTales: The Real Deal (BBC), Pen Pals (Rural Arts), Bully (recipient of an MGCFutures Bursary), No Place (Pentabus/Paines Plough) and Windy Old Fossils (Pentabus Young Writers’ Festival.)

His work often focuses on the disabled and/or queer experience. He loves reimaging stories, especially for the stage. He has been part of BBC London Voices, Bush Theatre Emerging Writers’ Group and is a member of Writers Guild of Great Britain Equality and Diversity Committee.

A white man in the countryside. He has short blond hair and a moustache. He looks to the camera and smiles.
Guy Jones

Guy is Associate Director at the Orange Tree Theatre. He has previously been Literary Associate at the Orange Tree, and a Creative Associate of Headlong and Company Three. He directs and develops new plays with new, establishing and established playwrights.

His directing credits include Blackout Songs (Hampstead Theatre, nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre), O, Island! (RSC), The Climbers (Theatre by the Lake), Either (Hampstead Theatre), Out of Water, Mayfly (both Orange Tree) and Busking It (HighTide and Shoreditch Town Hall.)sity Committee.

Partners
Black letters on white that read 'Bush Theatre'

Opened in 1972, the Bush Theatre is internationally renowned as ‘the place to go for ground-breaking work as diverse as its audiences’ (London Evening Standard).

A champion of playwrights and operating in one of the most culturally diverse areas of London, the Bush Theatre has a commitment to its local community and the wider artistic community. Braiding these two strands of work together, the Bush produces an engaging and challenging programme that reflects the world we live in.

Recent successes include Arinzé Kene’s Misty which transferred to the West End; Jellyfish, Ben Weatherill’s love story about a young woman with Down’s Syndrome which transferred to the National Theatre; a re-imagining of Jackie Kay’s 1986 masterpiece, Chiaroscuro, directed by the Bush’s Artistic Director Lynette Linton and the co-productions of Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer and Igor Memic’s Old Bridge which won the Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre’ in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

The Bush Theatre’s talent development programmes discover and develop the very best of the UK’s leading artists. The Bush team believes the theatre has a responsibility to programme and generate opportunities for new and established makers and, with long-term residencies, add to the sustainability of their careers.

Since re-opening in March 2017 after a year-long £4.3 million renovation by architects Haworth Tompkins, the Bush continues to create a space where all communities can be part of its future and call the theatre home

www.bushtheatre.co.uk

Black letters on white read Paines Plough

Paines Plough is the UK’s national theatre of new plays. They commission and produce the best playwrights and tour their plays far and wide. Whether you’re in Liverpool or Lyme Regis, Scarborough or Southampton, a Paines Plough show is coming to a theatre near you soon.

Paines Plough was formed in 1974 over a pint of Paines bitter in the Plough pub. Since then they’ve produced more than 130 new productions by world renowned playwrights like Stephen Jeffreys, Abi Morgan, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, Dennis Kelly and Mike Bartlett. They’ve toured those plays to hundreds of places from Manchester to Moscow to Maidenhead.

Their Programme 2015 saw 12 productions by the nation’s finest writers touring to 84 places from Cornwall to the Orkney Islands; in village halls and Off-Broadway, at music festivals and student unions, online and on radio, and in our own pop-up theatre Roundabout.

With Programme 2016 they continue to tour the length and breadth of the UK from clubs and pubs to lakeside escapes and housing estates. Roundabout hosts our most ambitious Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme ever and brings mini-festivals to each stop on its Autumn tour. They’re extending our digital reach by live streaming shows and launching the free Come To Where I’m From app featuring over 100 audio plays.

Black text on white reads 'Soho Theatre'

London’s most vibrant producer for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. Opened in 2000, bang in the creative heart of London, it is one of the country’s busiest venues with a buzzing bar and a year-round festival programme with a queer, punk, counter-culture flavour. Work extends far beyond its home with a UK and international touring programme and connections; presenting shows and scouting talent at Edinburgh Festival Fringe plus close links with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Soho Theatre is the UK’s leading presenter of Indian comedians from the country’s flourishing comedy scene. It has established several partnerships there and has a Soho Theatre Comedy Producer based in Mumbai.

Developing digital output over time, the online platform Soho Theatre On Demand over lockdown hosted the phenomenally successful live recording of Fleabag alongside comedy, theatre and cabaret specials. Soho Theatre now produces its own films and has more than 30 comedy specials, currently showing on Prime Video UK and the ‘Soho Theatre Live’ channel on British Airways inflight entertainment. Soho Theatre TikTok and YouTube and Soho Theatre India Instagram channels were launched in late 2022 with a refreshed website to launch in mid-2023.

Soho Theatre is working towards the opening of an exciting new second venue in London, Soho Theatre Walthamstow. A culmination of many years of Soho’s work, in collaboration with a grassroots local campaign, to save a glorious, 1930s art deco venue with an incredible heritage reinvented as a 1,000-capacity venue for world-class comedy, panto, performance and participation – a ‘local theatre with a national profile’.

Soho Theatre is led by Executive Director Mark Godfrey, Creative Director David Luff and a collaborative team. Soho Theatre’s board is chaired by Dame Heather Rabbatts DBE; subsidiaries Soho Theatre Walthamstow co-chaired by Alessandro Babalola and Lucy Davies, Soho Theatre Bar by Jeremy King OBE.

www.sohotheatre.com

A magenta square with white coloured areas. The letters at its centre read 'Theatre' in white and '503' in magenta encircled in white.

Theatre503 is at the forefront of identifying and nurturing new voices at the very start of their careers and launching them to the industry. They stage more early career playwrights than another theatre in the world – with over 120 writers premiered each year from festivals of short pieces to full length productions, resulting in employment for over 1,000 freelance artists through their year-round programme.

Theatre503 provides a diverse pipeline of talent resulting in modern classics like “The Mountaintop” by Katori Hall and “Rotterdam” by Jon Brittain – both Olivier Award winners – to future classics like Yasmin Joseph’s “J’Ouvert”, winner of the 2020 James Tait Black Prize and transferring to the West End/BBC Arts and “Wolfie” by Ross Willis, winner of the 2020 Writers Guild Award for Best New Play. Writers who began their creative life at Theatre503 are now writing for the likes of “The Crown”, “Succession”, “Doctor Who”, “Killing Eve” and “Normal People” and every single major subsidised theatre in the country now boasts a new play by a writer who started at Theatre503.

www.theatre503.com

Acknowledgements

We are proud to be delivering Wellspring in partnership with London theatres acclaimed for championing new writing, Bush Theatre, Paines Plough, Soho Theatre, and Theatre503, with support from fellow theatre professionals and peers: Camden People’s TheatreOrange Tree Theatre and BOLD Elephant.

Wellspring is funded by City Bridge Trust and the  National Lottery Community Fund supported by players of The National Lottery.

The coat of arms of the City of London. Logo of the National Lottery Community Fund. Left: crossed fingers in black and white with a smiley face formed across the folded fingers and the inside of the palm. Next to it, the words 'Community Fund' written in magenta and black respectively.