Riding Lights launches The Word Bank new writing fund in memory of Paul Burbridge

Paul Burbridge, 1953-2023

RIDING Lights Theatre Company is launching The Word Bank, a new writing fund in memory of co-founder and artistic director Paul Burbridge.

The fund was announced by Paul’s widow, Bernadette, at the conclusion to his two-hour service of service and thanksgiving, held on June 10 at St Michael-le-Belfrey, the church they attended regularly.

Further details can be found in Riding Lights’ June newsletter. “Paul believed that Riding Lights is called to make kingdom-centred theatre that is responsive, urgent, visionary, insightful and prophetic, and that in order to do that we need new plays,” Bernadette says.

“Paul was genuinely excited when a first draft dropped into his inbox. A skilful wordsmith himself, he became an excellent commissioner and dramaturg: a midwife of new work and encourager of writers.”

The Word Bank will support the commission and production of new writing, ensuring that it remains at the heart of Riding Lights’ work.

“When Paul died, he was – as ever – full of plans for Riding Lights. But underpinning plans, Paul always had a vision of theatre that was abundant and generous, because it was a response to the abundance and generosity of God,” says Bernadette.

“He was very amused, in the early days of the company, when a stern critic accused him of employing ‘unnecessary humour’. Years later, he described the work that Riding Lights makes as a precious outpouring, like Mary’s jar of perfume poured over Jesus’s feet: an apparently unnecessary, costly offering; an act of witness, and an expression of the abundance of the kingdom.”

The Word Bank will remain open for donations until the end of July 2024. For full details of how to make a regular or one-off donation, along with information on increasing the gift’s value through Gift Aid, go to: ridinglights.org/TheWordBank.

“As we invite you to give to The Word Bank in Paul’s memory, we hope that you will do so with that spirit of abundance, no matter how much or how little you can give…to nurture the creation and presentation of new work as Riding Lights moves into the future,” says Bernadette.

Introduced by the Reverend Iain Lothian, Paul’s memorial service was packed to the rafters for tributes by Riding Lights luminary Murray Watts and regular designer Sean Kavanagh, a reflection by Geoffrey Stevenson and contributions by daughters Erin Burbridge and Caitlin Harland and son Patrick Burbridge, plus playwright and co-writer Bridget Foreman.