Zodwa Nyoni to lead play-writing course for Freedom Studios from October. Apply now

Playwright Zodwa Nyoni: Play-writing course tutor for Freedom Studios. Picture: Zanele Nyoni

YORKSHIRE theatre company Freedom Studios are seeking experienced Yorkshire writers for a free play-writing course.

“Are you looking for the next step-up and want to learn in depth about play-writing and working in the arts,” the Bradford theatre-makers ask.

“If so, we’re looking for distinctive voices and new perspectives, with an ability to write and the potential to develop, to get involved in Street Voices 8, our popular free six-month play-writing course, from October 10 2020 till March 6 2021.”

The workshops will be guided by playwright and previous course participant Zodwa Nyoni, writer of Boi Boi Is Dead for West Yorkshire Playhouse, Tiata Fahodzi and Watford Palace Theatre in 2015.

Freedom Studios are looking for writers who may have been writing creatively in other forms and are keen to broaden their skills. All applicants must have a willingness to take risks and try out new ideas, along with a commitment to attend all course dates. 

In return, Freedom Studios are offering writing workshops, masterclasses and question-and-answer sessions with experienced creatives; support and advice from theatre-makers and industry professionals; opportunities to see plays, events and performances and the chance to watch a performance of your work.

Freedom Studios’ co-artistic directors, Alex Chisholm and Aisha Khan, say: “Developing new writers is about developing the theatre of the future. So, it is with particular delight we are launching Street Voices 8, our new writers’ course, this October.

“Playwright Zodwa Nyoni, who went through the course herself as young(er) writer, will be joining us again as tutor on the course. Our region has a wealth of talent and potential and we look forward to hearing from writers wanting to take that extra step to expand their experience and become the strong, diverse new generation of theatre.”

Angela Wynter, as Miriam, and Andrew French, as Ezra, in Zodwa Nyoni’s Boi Boi Is Dead at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, in 2015

Among the course attendees who have gone on to write for professional theatre are: Kat Rose Martin, winner of the Kay Mellor Fellowship at Leeds Playhouse; Chris O’Connor, whose play The Parting Glass was staged by Leeds company Red Ladder Theatre; Gemma Beadeau, now under commission with Freedom Studios, and Ben Tagoe, writer of When We Were Brothers for Freedom Studios.

Gemma Beadeau, who attended last year’s Street Voices 7, says: “Street Voices was an incredibly affirming experience. Freedom Studios have created a really safe space to learn and I learnt so much about narrative. There is nothing that our writing mentor, Zodwa Nyoni, didn’t know about shaping a story.

“We were encouraged to be bold, brave and ambitious, and I was in great company with other brilliant writers. whose feedback and work pushed me to take my loose idea to a play I’m really proud of.  If you can apply, it’ll be life-changing.” 

From October to next March, the course will be run online via Zoom but, should guidance change nearer the time, sessions will be held in Bradford as normal in adherence with the Government’s Covid guidelines. This decision also will be made in consultation with the tutor and participants. 

To apply for the Street Voices 8 writing course, all applicants must be aged over 18, based in Yorkshire and have “some level of writing experience”. Individuals from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are actively encouraged to apply. 

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday, August 17. Applicants selected for interview will be informed by August 28 and interviews will take place either in Bradford or via Zoom in the week beginning September 7.

Award-winning intercultural theatre company Freedom Studios connect different people and communities through story-telling and making theatre. “Engagement is intrinsic to our work and communities are at the heart of what we do,” say Chisholm and Khan.

Zodwa Nyoni’s Ode To Leeds at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, in 2017

Among their site-specific past productions are The Mill – City of Dreams; Brief Encounters at Bradford Interchange; Home Sweet Home, North Country, and Black Teeth And A Brilliant Smile. 

For more details on how to apply for the course, visit: freedomstudios.co.uk/opportunities/street-voices-8/.

Session dates:

October 10: meet and greet;  October 24, character; November 7, structure; November 21, dialogue (guest speaker); December 5, opportunities (guest speaker); December 19, re-writing problems and solutions; January 16 2021, group reading; January 23, group reading; February 20, script reading with actors; February 27, script reading with actors; March 6, de-brief; mid to late April, showcase.

Tutor: Zodwa Nyoni

Zimbabwean-born playwright, poet, screenwriter and director, who started writing poetry with Leeds Young Authors, a youth performance poetry organisation.

She has held poetry residencies at: BBC Radio Leeds, 2006; I Love West Leeds Festival, 2010, and Ilkely Literature Festival, 2013.

She has toured nationally and internationally, performing at the British Museum; Venezuelan Embassy; Latitude Festival; Southbank Centre; eKhaya Multi Arts Centre, Durban, South Africa; National Gallery Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Nuyorican Poets Café, New York, and Historic Hampton House, Miami, both USA.

She has taught poetry and theatre workshops extensively for universities, schools, colleges, organisations, and theatres.

She wrote Ode To Leeds for West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2017 and is under commission at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Kiln Theatre and LAMDA.