How to start a career as a playwright

How to start a career as a playwright


How to start a career as a playwright

Step one: write a play

Step two: send it out

Repeat as necessary.

Step one: write a play

No-one can do this for you.  There are books and websites you can look at for advice on technique, software to help with formatting, and courses you can go on.  You should definitely go to the theatre as much as possible.  You may even be able to get a grant to buy you time to write, or to pay for mentoring or dramaturgy.  But at the end of the day it’s down to:




Step two: send your play out

Get your script as good as you can get it before you start sending it out.  Get the story right, and all the scenes and characters fully realized.  Put the script into industry format (it’s not set in stone, but there are conventions).  If you’re dyslexic, or your spelling is in any way dodgy, get someone reliable to proofread.

Then send it out.  Some of the major new writing theatres offer a script reading service.  You could also try sending it to reputable competitions — Bruntwood, Verity Bargate, Theatre503.  See our resources list for details.

Don’t forget your regional theatres, and smaller companies that might be interested in your work — eg Rifco if you’re an Asian comedy writer.  Send your script to us too, at the Writing Our Legacy address.

When you’ve sent it off, wait.  If you haven’t heard anything for six months (or after the notification period indicated), it’s OK to send a polite email enquiry.

Repeat as necessary

You probably won’t hit the jackpot first time (or any time).  But if you keep writing and keep sending out then you will slowly build a career.

If you have a bit of talent and a bit of technique and a bit of tenacity and a bit of luck, you will start to get noticed in competitions and by literary managers. You might get professional rehearsed readings of your work or an offer to work with a dramaturg (though you might not be paid for any of this).  You might get commissioned or offered a full production.

There is not (usually) a lot of money in it though.  So unless there are other compelling indicators, you might want to hang onto the day job.

Home, a new non-fiction work by Umi Sinha

Home, a new non-fiction work by Umi Sinha

Where do you belong?

We’re delighted to present Home, a new non-fiction work by writer, teacher and storyteller Umi Sinha, commissioned by Writing Our Legacy.

We’ve been working with Umi around the themes of home and displacement. Last year, Umi ran writing workshops at Jubilee Library, exploring these themes to write your own stories.

With creative writing, and especially for people from other countries or cultures, we write to understand, to feel at home in the world, to figure out where we belong. Writing is a great tool for exploring ourselves, other people and our past.

One’s sense of belonging becomes more complex when you’re a mixed race person, with family from different countries, and perhaps you from neither of those – or you have several places to call home and none are where you live now.

In 2012, Umi was invited to read from her current novel at our Asian Voices event in Crawley. The book is set during World War I and is about the Indian soldiers in Brighton at this time. We also commissioned Umi to write a piece about home. Being from both England and India, what did it mean to be mixed race? Where did you then belong? Where was home?

We present this work to you now. Enjoy!


By Umi Sinha

In 2006 I had been living in England on and off for nearly forty years, having left India when I was fifteen. For sixteen of those years I had lived in Sussex, first in Brighton, then moving along the coast to Saltdean, and now it was time to move again.  Even before I left India, the country of my birth, I had been searching for a place I could call home. In India I was ‘half-English’, a half-caste, and therefore an outcast. In Britain, I thought, things would be different, but the moment I arrived I became ‘half-Indian’. Would I ever be whole?

We arrived in England in 1968, shortly after the mass immigration of Asians who had been evicted from Kenya and Uganda. After three years at school in Kent I went to university in Coventry where a lot of Asians had settled to work in the car factories and in my second year I moved with some other students into a rented house in the Foleshill Road, an area occupied mostly by Indians. I was so homesick that I tried to strike up conversations with Indian bus conductors. They seemed interested in where I came from and my family – searching for common connections as Indians usually do – until I revealed my mother was English. Then their faces glazed over and they turned away.

At that time the expressions ‘wog’ and ‘nigger’ were still widely used, and once a man on a bus asked me how I was enjoying living with “our coloured friends”. I was too embarrassed to tell him I was one of them. Towards the end of my university course, the mother of my friend Sue visited and asked the same question, rather more genteelly phrased. Sue replied, ‘Oh I hate it here. Indians stink and so does their food.’ There was an awkward silence. I left the room. Later her boyfriend came to me and explained that Sue had forgotten I was from India. ‘Anyway, we don’t consider you one of them. You’re one of us,’ he said.

As soon as I left university I moved to Crete. It was halfway between India and Britain, geographically, climatically and culturally. Perhaps I would fit it in there? I discovered Greek cinema was very much like Bollywood naatch gana and that the film actress Nargis was much admired. I loved Crete but soon understood why the word ‘xenophobia’ had been adopted from the Greek: an Englishman – who had been parachuted in to liberate Crete during the war and had married a girl who’d been in the Resistance and stayed – told me that after twenty-five years he still felt like a stranger. On a visit to Agia Roumeli on the south coast I learnt that a woman from the neighbouring village, a few miles away, who had married into the village twenty years before, was still referred to as ‘the woman from Hora Sfakion’.

I went back to India, aged 26, to discover nothing had changed. I was told by a mutual friend that the family of a male colleague I had lunched with was worried that he might decide to marry me.

Four years later I returned to England and resumed my search.  I lived in London – at the beginning of the ‘80s not the multi-cultural place it is now – and then moved to Brighton in the ‘90s, where, despite the fact that there was practically no black or ethnic minority presence, for the first time in my life I felt accepted. As a lesbian friend said to me, ‘In Brighton no matter how odd you are there’s always someone odder.’ I found that statement reassuring because I had always been the odd one out. At school in India the only friends I could have were Anglo-Indian or Parsi; or Christian converts, usually from the caste still referred to then as ‘Untouchables’. To the Hindu girls we were all Untouchables.

But if Brighton embraces ‘the odd’, it also imposes an expectation that, as I got older, I began to find harder to live up to. When I left Brighton in the end it was probably because I didn’t feel odd enough.

So now, in 2006, I was looking for a home again. It was house prices that made us look in Newhaven, despite its reputation. The first few houses I saw dismayed me – cramped, dark and gloomy – but as I walked up the steps to a Victorian terraced house facing the river a gust of wind brought the smell of ozone, fish and diesel oil rolling up the valley. I took a deep breath and thought, “Ah, home!”

Home – that word that carries so much meaning. In colonial times the British abroad wrote and even pronounced the word with a capital “H” when referring to Britain.  In India the conception of home is so strong that the word for England was ‘vilayat’, which simply meant ‘province’ – the word ‘Blighty’ derives from this – and even today Indians will often say someone lives ‘bahar’ which just means ‘outside’, or ‘abroad’.  It’s as though once you’ve left Home, it makes no difference where you are.

As a result of my father’s career – he was a naval officer – I had lived around ports all my childhood, and we often travelled by cargo ship back and forth to England, so that smell of ozone, fish and diesel oil spelt Home, with a capital H, for me.

In fact, of all the places I have visited in the world, the one where I have felt most truly at home is the sea. Standing on the deck of a ship looking out and seeing nothing but blue all the way to the horizon in every direction is like being in a bubble out of time – neither one’s point of origin nor one’s destination, neither past nor future – exist. At sea I can be just me, not half this or half that. The sea does not belong to anybody. To me it represents freedom and escape and I have never been comfortable living far from it. Coventry, of course, was as far from the sea as you can get in England, but from my house in Newhaven I can watch the dredgers sail past the front window and the fishing boats putter past followed by a raucous cloud of seagulls and twice a day the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry docks further down the river.

Ports bring the world to your door and remind me that if ever I feel I don’t belong here any more all I have to do is get on that ferry and the whole world will be out there waiting for me.

Facebook WC picUmi Sinha has an MA in creative writing and has taught for the University of Sussex on The Certificate in Creative Writing course for twelve years. Students from this course have gone on to win prizes, be published, and have plays or stories performed on radio. She also does life story and reminiscence work with older people, teach fiction workshops for the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) and she runs her own courses and a literary consultancy.

Her short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies, including in Cosmopolitan magazine and a Serpents Tail anthology, Getting Even: Revenge Stories. She has worked as a freelance editor for Orient Longman, written titles in the ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ series, which retells myths, legends and historical events in comic book form for children. She was a sifter (reader) for the Asham Award in 2012.

Dead Late 2013

Dead Late 2013

Dead Late 2013

Presented by Latin Voices Live! and Brighton Museum

Check out this awesome video of our evening event Dead Late as part of last year’s Latin Voices Live! The evening was produced by Transition Film.

Watch the film:


Dead Late took place on Thursday 7 November 2013 at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery as part of the Museum’s Late series, which aims to encourage a wider range of audiences coming into the museum after dark.

We had cocktails, face paint, DJ, costume, craft, performance, music, calaveras writing, and a special graveyard with skeletons and dancers. It was a fantastic night of fun and we can’t wait to do it again!

Supported by National Lottery funding through Arts Council England, Brighton & Hove City Council and Royal Pavilion & Brighton Museums, Brighton & Hove.

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Latin Voices Live! Family Day Film

Latin Voices Live! Family Day Film

Latin Voices Live! 2013 Film

We are delighted to get a short film of our Latin Voices Live! family day, which took place recently on Saturday 9 November. The event was bigger than ever, spanning across Brighton Dome, Brighton Museum and Jubilee Library, from 11am until 5pm.

The film captures a bit of everything from the day including:

  • Marta Scott Dance Company
  • Arts and crafts workshop with Linda White from Viva Mexico!
  • Cuban band Son Guarachando
  • James Burt reading Borges at Borges-a-thon
  • And lastly Chilean writer Luis Munoz reading from his memoir Being Luis and talking about his life as a torture victim and survivor.

The majority of the film focuses on the reading and talk from Luis, including a reading from the book when he and his younger brother were looked after when abandoned by their father by a criminal called Satan, who ruled the grocers markets, and later when Luis ran into his father on the eve of the military coup. An emotional reading and discussion is captured on this edit, in which audience members relate and probe the person Luis was and who he is now.


Jacob Ross fiction writing masterclass – he’s back in Brighton!

Jacob Ross fiction writing masterclass – he’s back in Brighton!

Jacob Ross fiction writing masterclass

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to study fiction writing with Caribbean acclaimed writer Jacob Ross on Saturday 30 November!

As soon as we put the autumn programme online, tickets started to go quickly so there are only a few places on this one-day fiction writing workshop.

Following on from Jacob’s recent workshop in Brighton, in this next workshop Jacob will be build on the work he did to examine the building blocks of stories and narrative and give participants opportunities to produce strong memorable narratives with practical exercises in the class.

IMG_2256Date: 30 November 2013
Time: 10am-4pm
Venue: Jubilee Library, Jubilee St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1GE
Cost: £30


Supported by National Lottery, Arts Council England, and Brighton & Hove Library Services

Jacob Ross was born in Grenada, is the author of acclaimed short story collections, Song for Simone (1986) and A Way to Catch the Dust  (1999).

His first novel, Pynter Bender was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award 2009 and the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2009. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has judged the V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, the Tom-Gallon Award and Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize.

Jacob is also the Associate Fiction Editor for Peepal Tree Press and a tutor of Narrative Craft and the Fiction Editor for SABLE LitMag.

Latin Voices Live! 2013 Family Day

Latin Voices Live! 2013 Family Day

Latin Voices Live! 2013 Family Day

The final day of Latin Voices Live! happens on Saturday 9 November – we hope that you can make it.

Here’s our schedule:

11am-3.30pm – Arts & crafts workshop with Linda White from Viva Mexico!  

Making: Mask, nichos, flowers, sugar skulls, and more. Donations: £2/object . Brighton Museum, Art Room

11am – 5pm – Multi art form family day at Brighton Dome

Includes facepainting, dance from Marta Scott Dance Company (1.30pm & 4pm), Son Guarachando (2pm), Brazilian and Spanish rappers (3.15). Brighton Dome, Church Street, Brighton BN1 1UE

11:30am-1pm  – Bilingual storytelling at  Jubilee Library

Free entry, charge for face painting. Jubilee Library, Jubilee St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1GE

12.30-4.30pm – Mexican pop up restaurant selling food and drinks at Brighton Dome’s Founders Room

Only £2.00 per taco
– Barbacoa de borrego (lamb)
– Tinga de pollo (chicken)
– Picadillo (beef)
– Nopales
– Rajas

Brighton Dome, Church Street, Brighton BN1 1UE

1-5pm – Films, readings and talks at Jubilee Library

Juan of the Dead, a comedic horror Cuban/Spanish film (1pm), Borges-a-thon, an hour of readings from Borges’s most famous stories (2.45pm), and a talk from Chilean writer and torture survivor Luis Munoz, who will be reading from his memoir Being Luis.

All events free, Luis Munoz talk suggested donation £4/3 (all proceeds go to torture charity) & ticket includes free wine. Other events, wine by donation. Jubilee Library, Jubilee St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1GE

Latin Voices Live! festival starts today

Latin Voices Live! festival starts today at Jubilee Library with free bilingual storytelling for kids 11.30-1.30pm, plus face painting.

Come see the incredible decoration at the library all week, including a Borges tapestry across the whole front of the library, a tree of life decorated by Brighton school children and skeletons!

There’s lots of free and low cost activity for all ages in Brighton throughout the week:

  • Free bilingual storytelling at Jubilee Library for the kids on 2, 4, 9 November
  • A Day of the Dead adult only party at Brighton Museum on 7 November £5 advanced
  • Free all-ages family day on Saturday 9 November at Jubilee Library, Brighton Museum and Brighton Dome

We are pleased to present Chilean author Luis Munoz, who will be doing a special reading on 9 November, 3-4pm, from his memoir Being Luis: A Chilean Life. Luis was a political activist who was held prisoner and tortured by Pinochet’s government. He lived to tell the harrowing tale.

Copies of his book will be on sale for £10 each and your ticket includes a complimentary glass of wine. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable, inspiring story! Tickets £4/3 through Eventbrite. All proceeds from the ticket goes to a torture charity.

To read the full programme for this year’s Latin Voices Live!, keep reading…..

We look forward to seeing you in the coming week!

Writing Our Legacy team Continue reading →

Chilean author Luis Muñoz reads from memoir on 9 November

Chilean author Luis Muñoz reads from memoir on 9 November

Luis Muñoz reads from memoir

We are honoured to have Luis Muñoz, a former Chilean activist who survived arrest and torture during Pinochet’s regime and then authored his harrowing account in his autobiography Being Luis; A Chilean Life (Impress Books).

Luis will read from his book at Jubilee Library, during the Latin Voices Live! Family Day event and answer questions from the audience. Luis will be signing copies of the book, which will be on sale. Tickets for the reading are £4/3 and include a complimentary glass of wine.

Date: Saturday 9 November 2013
Time: TBC
Venue: Jubilee Library, Jubilee St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1GE
Cost: £4/3


Latin Voices Live! looking for volunteers and arts & crafts materials

LatinLiveA4poster-page-001This year, we are running our spectacular Latin Voices Live! festival again, which explores Latin literature culture and history in a fun, interactive and largely free way, 2-9 Novmber.
We are in desperate need of an assortment of arts and crafts material, which is pretty much your rubbish – carrier bags, empty drink bottles, old duvets and pantyhose, cardboard, tissue – a really good excuse for a clear out !
Here’s the full list of stuff we’re looking for. Any and all donations welcome. If you can help, please email Tom Hamilton or me on, and we can collect or arrange pick up.
We are also looking for volunteers and artists to get involved on the day – in the first instance, please email Cynthia or Michelle on Also check out our Get Involved page for more information. Continue reading →

Mother Tongue, 24 October, Brighton

Spliff Richard, Countdown Social Club, 2010. Photo: Paul Jackson
Spliff Richard, Countdown Social Club, 2010. Photo: Paul Jackson

Come join an evening of some of the South East’s finest poets, rappers & storytellers on Thursday 24 October, 5-7 at Jubilee Library, Brighton.

The event features acclaimed poet Patience Agbabi and Mrisi Shrapnel, Spliff Richard, plus authors from the Ink on My Lips anthology, soon to bepublished on Brighton-based Waterloo Press.

Free entry, plus free wine from Barefoot wine. Benjie’s Caribbean Kitchen’s will be selling plates of Caribbean food for £7 – pre-booking advised to avoid disappointment.  Continue reading →