Tag Archive for: New writing

During our lock-in weekend, I pulled Simon Startin into a virtual Zoom room and asked him: “You know that assumed modern-day-normal-world that a lot of plays take place in? At what point does COVID permeate that ‘normal’ world in a play that’s definitely not about COVID?”

It’s an interesting time to learn to be a writer.

Coming from a musical theatre background and working heavily as a dancer and a puppeteer in my early career, I didn’t ever really see myself making my own work. I like the reassurance of being told where to stand and what to do. But as I got older, those very narrow boxes became suffocating and I have started to explore the possibilities that writing brings. I regularly gig as my cabaret character Cava Charley, which also involves choreographing and rhinestone-ing(!!!), as well as continuing to work as a voiceover artist. I have been lucky enough to tour with Le Gateau Chocolat’s show DUCKIE recently, taking me back to my musical theatre roots while honouring my non-binary and autistic identities – a healing and empowering experience. To be honest, I am most excited to pass my writing on to other actors and let them play with it. I am garnering a fresh appreciation for my own craft.

Wellspring presented an opportunity to show up as an autistic creative without having to unpack to everyone else what that actually means. That saves a lot of energy, and I’ve been able to focus on the buffet of tools and tricks they provided to get us writing in a way that best served our needs and the areas we wanted to work on. I imagine I will continue to refer back to my notebook for years to come. As for To COVID or Not To COVID – I went with the chaotic tail end of 2019, when we were all so busy being busy we somehow didn’t see anyone or do anything.

I am blessed with two incredible working class Nanas. One was orphaned in the blitz over East London and sent to live with an aunt, the other took shelter from bombs in the Griffin Brewery, and remembers being amazed by post-war Chiswick lit up in the evenings. I wanted to take the adult grandchild / loving grandparent relationship and test it in the rocky waters of modern life – through the rapid, intertwining shifts both in technology and attitudes to trauma, mental illness, and queer identity. Most importantly, I wanted to bring that voice of grandmother to the stage – nanny who put up with a lot of rubbish, Nana who somehow made it work, Nan who is the only person rooting the a family tree that keeps taking swipes at each other. Nana who, befitting the expectations of women at the time, retained her good humour and in her later years strays in to mischief – and that musical, grounding, rumbling voice of home. I hope I do it justice.

Paula Brett, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022


Paula is an actor, writer and theatre maker. Their experience spans classical, contemporary and family work, including as a principal puppeteer on In the Night Garden Live and with Illyria Theatre’s production of The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle. They make independent work about mental illness, queer identity and neurodivergence. They can also be heard delivering traffic reports for radio stations across the UK.

Wellspring is Vital Xposure’s professional development programme for London-based disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent playwrights and script writers, funded by City Bridge Trust and delivered in partnership with Paines PloughBush theatreTheatre 503 and Hampstead Theatre

When I began my career as a young actor with autism, I was – without knowing it – shy, scared and ashamed. Not of who I am, but how I am.

My experiences navigating the shape of the industry, the advice of people higher up, and the opinions of those I deemed to know better all left me with a lingering impression: to even have a shot at fitting within that shape, I had to change everything about myself. I felt my neuro-divergence as something I needed to conceal in my professional life, bury from public view and, worst of all, hide from myself.

But then I tried something else.

Writing about growing up with autism helped me be more honest with myself, positive about who I am, and when I performed my first play, the floodgates blasted open. I discovered a new landscape; an exciting movement where d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists were expressing themselves and receiving platforms they previously hadn’t had.

Last year I attended the launch of Jack Thorne’s ‘Underlying Health Condition’ campaign. Its drive to create more accessibility and opportunity for disabled people in television was beyond inspiring. My hope is that its ripples will also exact real change in theatre; not just with more disabled narratives or representation, but championing disabled artists to tell whatever stories they want.

The potential for change was riveting, but partaking in Wellspring galvanised me even further.

From the start, it was such a welcoming, supportive, and creatively enriching environment. I learned lots, from tutors and fellow participants alike, about idea generating, structure, disability theory and more. I’m grateful for every gathering, and for me the highlight was the weekend writing Lock-in. With Simon Startin’s mentorship, having the designated time to build the world of my piece was exhilarating.

The play I’m developing explores the relationship between class and having children. It follows a couple with differing class backgrounds who, after being outed at their engagement party that they want a childfree marriage, are tested on everything they value by their families…cue the juicy tension! I’m also currently on the BBC Doctors Scheme, reworking my play Turnip (a sci-fi rom-com), and soon filming a sitcom set in a cult!

I know what it’s like to be daunted about professional development: but for anyone searching for non-stressful ways about it, I can promise you they exist. Firstly, there’s writing workshops: Wildcard Theatre and DANC (Disabled Artists Networking Community) have great accessible programmes with amazing people at low/no cost. You can approach theatres or companies whose aims and work you admire, and see if they have schemes you can join (most people tend to be nice by the way). And lastly, I’d recommend checking the BBC Writersroom website and the DANC newsletter. Both list great opportunities…including this one!

I’m incredibly thankful to Vital Xposure for this whole experience. It’s given me more confidence in my abilities, lots of tools, empowerment as a writer, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds!

Robbie Curran, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022


Robbie is an actor and writer from Walthamstow. After training at the Oxford School of Drama, he has worked in Shakespeare, new writing and TV, performing his writing debut ‘Thomas’ at VAULT Festival 2019. He has also partaken in Soho Theatre Writers Lab and BBC Writersroom’s Writers Access Group.

Wellspring is Vital Xposure’s professional development programme for London-based disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent playwrights and script writers, funded by City Bridge Trust and delivered in partnership with Paines PloughBush theatreTheatre 503 and Hampstead Theatre

I’m a queer neurodiverse woman of colour writing stories from but not always about this perspective, for theatre and TV. I’m interested in telling stories in new ways and dramatizing seemingly complex, but actually simple, philosophical ideas.

At times, having ADHD can feel like a super power, I charge into hyper focus mode and get sucked into writing, cooking, skating, but most of the time it’s extremely tiring and spend most of my time find fixing mistakes I’ve made due to it. I was drawn to Wellspring because of its focus on working with D/deaf and/or Neurodivergent playwrights and writers, I was craving being in an environment that was aware of the importance of access where I felt like I could be myself and explore what was possible in such environment.

The highlight of Wellspring has been meeting other artists who have encountered similar blocks in the industry to me. Sharing experiences made me feel seen and validated and ultimately gave me the confidence to state my access needs in new situations. The tutors have been so generous with their knowledge and support, it’s felt like a realty safe space for growth, and learning through exploration. I’ve always felt like I’d needed to ‘fit in’ to an environment, for example, in meetings and rehearsal rooms, I’ve not felt able to get up and walk around for fear of it being inappropriate. Wellspring has taught me to honour my needs, and has given me to confidence not to fit in, but to assert myself. Since I’ve been doing this, my wellbeing and working relationships have improved, there is a greater sense of connection and ease, meaning creating work, in a safe space where everyone feels comfortable, feels radically expansive and authentic.

My advice for playwrights looking for professional development support is to know that you don’t need to change yourself to fit in to any structure, you’re allowed to make up the rules and talk about what you need. The more we advocate for ourselves, the more people will listen.

I’m currently making the leap over to TV writing, working on an original pilot as part of the Channel 4 Screenwriting Course, it’s a huge learning experience as the process if very different to playwriting. I’m working with two wonderful script editors who know my needs and how I like to work, I cannot stress enough how wonderful people are when you’re brave enough to share your authentic self!

Nicole Latchana, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022


Nicole is a queer, neurodiverse, Indo-Guyanese playwright from London. Her plays have won competitions and have been on at several theatres including The Arcola, The Bunker and Southwark Playhouse. She wrote her latest play OCO-2, a dystopia about the climate crisis, on the Royal Court writer’s group

Wellspring is Vital Xposure’s professional development programme for London-based disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent playwrights and script writers, funded by City Bridge Trust and delivered in partnership with Paines PloughBush theatreTheatre 503 and Hampstead Theatre

Hello, my name is Fatima and I own two ring lights.

I was named after my two grandmothers, both called Fatima. They had the most extraordinary Amazigh (Berber) tattoos on their faces. The ancient Berber tradition of facial tattooing of women was a mark of cultural identity, womanhood and beauty, but is fast dying out in today’s Morocco. Fast forward to me…Fatima generation 2022… to be honest, I sometimes spend more time at my vanity desk with my ring lights obsessing over skincare than I do at my writing desk.

That said, I love plays, I could read plays for days on days, talk about plays for days on days and watch plays for days on days.

I wanted to join Wellspring so I could be with a group of people who also wanted to talk about theatre. And write plays for days on days and more importantly, to be encouraged to spend more time at my writing desk.

The biggest highlight of the programme for me has been my mentorship with Paines Plough. I was already a huge fan of some of the writers they had worked with in the past. I watched I Wanna Be Yours at the Bush Theatre in 2019 and was so excited and in love with Zia Ahmed’s writing. I recently finished reading Sabrina Mahfouz’s 2018 play, With a Little Bit of Luck, and feel so inspired and energised by her work. I was over the moon to be paired with Paines Plough. Dream. Come. True.

My three top tips to playwrights looking for professional support, is read – read – read – plays. I have learnt so much from reading, I have been moved to the brink of tears and made to roar with laughter. Last year I read, You for Me For You, by Mia Chung, and learned so much about magical realism that I started to use it in my own work. My second tip is to watch plays when you can and watch different plays, not just ones you like. Finally, it’s not a race, there will always be another job, another submission rolling around, so you can take your shot as many times as you like!

My piece for Wellspring is inspired by my father’s and my late uncle’s time in Billy Smart’s Circus. It was a very big circus in the 60’s – a 6000 seater tent, the largest in Europe and for some years the largest touring tent show in the world.

Moroccans were always present in large numbers – always as tumbling artistes and often working in the stables and as “Ring Boys” – responsible for taking props in and out of the ring during shows. They were always there in the thick of it during build up’s and pull down’s. My play, Rock the Casbah, is a love story of twin brothers who become estranged. It explores themes of class, race and love.

When I’m not watching 12 Step Skincare Routines YouTube tutorials, I am an associate artist at Stockroom (formerly known as Out of Joint), training to be a Dramaturg. Stockroom is a Theatre Writers Room dedicated to script creation and a radical new approach to playwriting. I am part of a creative team on an exciting verbatim project with writer and actor Tonderai Munyevu. I am honoured to be a mentee of the legendary screenwriter and director of the Writers’ Guild Lisa Holdsworth. At the end of last year, I landed my first telly job in a writers’ room on a Netflix Show. I do believe these are very exciting times to be an emerging writer (with ring lights!).

Fatima Serghini, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022


Fatima is an emerging West London writer. She is interested in producing stories about human diversity and inviting audiences to see worlds not accessible to them. Her stories are funny, sexy, and direct.

Wellspring is Vital Xposure’s professional development programme for London-based disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent playwrights and script writers, funded by City Bridge Trust and delivered in partnership with Paines PloughBush theatreTheatre 503 and Hampstead Theatre

Firstly, let me get all the tick boxes out of the way. I am a neurodiverse woman from a regional working-class background who has never knowingly turned down a free bag of chips. (Okay, the last one doesn’t qualify for a diversity tick box but is, I feel, a pertinent insight into the nature of my character.) Oh, and I write plays.

It’s an exciting time for playwrights. I think theatre, once steeped in conservativism, has blossomed into something bolder in recent years, with a conscious desire to reflect a broader vision of the world. Let’s just hope this new verisimilitude continues to expand rather than contract under the weight of fashionable causes; as tempting as it is for theatre to follow the gravy train television is endlessly chasing, playwrights are the surrealists to TV’s impressionists and should be permitted to explore truths without succumbing to the pressure of commercial popularity. It is not a playwright’s job to focus on being new and exciting, the confines of a stage dictate story-worlds that are far more tonal.

I think this is where development programmes can be great for playwrights in that the right one can be instrumental in building a writer’s confidence and offering guidance whilst exploring complex themes. Personally, I would advise emerging playwrights to seek out development support with organisations that they feel reflect their values: not every writer’s attachment or development initiative is going to suit you so resist the urge to apply randomly or take up every offer; if the chemistry is wrong, it can be a less than positive experience, stripping the writer of that all-important courage to opine. As the Canadian playwright, Raymond Hill, once said:

‘He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.’

On that, note, Wellspring has been a very supportive experience for me. Now that the programme’s teaching element had ended and we have all been allocated our respective dramaturgical mentor, I am in the head-banging phase of assembling a two hander that explores the dark, but sadly universal subject of teenage suicide and its links to social media. As a mature writer, I must confess to finding the navigation of an adolescent worldview challenging, but that’s why artists create art, isn’t it, to push boundaries – other people’s and their own.

I joined Wellspring the hope that working with likeminded creatives, who had also faced challenges due to their differences, would permit me an authenticity that I had not previously felt free to express. I was not disappointed; the creative mentoring team have been wonderfully accepting and hugely generous with both their knowledge and with their care – I felt cared about throughout, which was just lovely. Either I got very lucky or (as I suspect) Simon Startin and his clever cohort picked my peers with a foresight that has meant the participants became a great team, with everyone showing a genuine interest in having each other’s backs. That has meant a lot to me and I look forward to watching my newfound friends grow and succeed.

Victoria Taylor Roberts, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022


Victoria is a  published writer who has created works for stage, screen and audio. Her stories focus on social issues told through a comedic lens. She is the winner of the EDALYA International Youth Theatre Playwright award (2019) and the Kenneth Branagh Drama Writing Award (2015).

Wellspring is Vital Xposure’s professional development programme for London-based disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent playwrights and script writers, funded by City Bridge Trust and delivered in partnership with Paines PloughBush theatreTheatre 503 and Hampstead Theatre

Tag Archive for: New writing