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Summer 2015 Tributes
The Criterion New Writing scheme has provided a creative life-line; encouraging me to generate new material, be bold and decisive, and (very important) self-critical. Greg’s innovative approach to structure, and indeed the art of playwriting as a whole, is so inspiring - the course has been fun and challenging in all the right measures. The beautiful Criterion Theatre setting means that the stakes are high from the very outset, as Greg encourages you to think big, and literally write for the West End. The small group size is perfect, as everyone has a voice, and we have got to know each other really well. What makes Criterion New Writing particularly unique, is that having critiqued one another’s work and revised our own, it is then read by actors who in turn also provide feedback (all of which has been invaluable). I have loved every minute of it - the whole experience has been brilliant from start to finish, making me more determined than ever to make the transition from page to stage.
Greg Mosse’s approach is inspiring, stimulating, engaging, challenging, but above all, practical. I went in on day one without a thought in my head and came out at the end of a few brief weeks with the elements of a fully formed play, ready to piece together. I’d never written a play this way before, but it really works. The course starts briskly and moves forward even more briskly, but Greg never loses sight of the issues that matter and always makes time to discuss the big ideas as well as the finer points of dramatic theory. Sometimes teasing, sometimes questioning, sometimes leading, he offers a thorough grounding in the nuts-and-bolts of scene structure and play construction. Clarity, practicality and intellectual rigour -- if you’re a playwright, you need to get on this course!
It's always a delight to meet other writers, and there's a real thrill in getting to work in the actual space of the Criterion Theatre under Greg's tutelage - it definitely puts one in the mindset for writing ambitiously! What I found most valuable about the Criterion Writing Workshops was the rigorous attention to dramatic structure, which provided a more detailed and comprehensive look at the mechanical process of how story builds, which went above and beyond the training I've had about this in other writing courses. Any writer interested in creating big plays for a big stage is sure to benefit from this craft-based approach, and feel more confident and creative in storytelling for the stage.
I had become used to focusing on writing only as far as black box spaces and intimate three-person shows. What’s wrong with that, I reasoned, the rest we can imagine. And yet… from the moment I wrote my first nine-person scene (!) for one of Greg’s assignments, I felt the chains of poor-theatre restrictions loosening. Mind you, the resplendency of the space also allows one to dream big. The Criterion is an inspirational jewel and being able to sit as far back as the last row of the royal circle and hear each and every word of one’s work from the stage is a total gift. The incomparable Fiona, the Cri’s GM, welcomed us openly into her theater. As for Greg, he is a delightful mentor who is whip-smart, operating on all pistons, and doesn’t miss a trick. But if that weren’t enough, I also had five other incredibly talented and diverse playwrights offering me their feedback in between sessions via email. Add a half dozen accomplished actors who respond instantly to cold reads and well, wow, what a heady mix.
The Criterion New Writing course is without doubt one of the most exciting and innovating learning creative resources in London. As a writer you are mentored in a truly democratic group of six diverse writers where the craft may flourish. Itis astonishing the amount of work you can produce from it - for myself nearing the first draft of a play - extremely gratifying. Greg's methods are precise, acutely observed and truly work. You will find yourself spotting patterns, devices and narrative architecture in all forms of writing at their best. For the final three sessions, professional actors are introduced which completely shifts the dimensions of the course, more into a workshop for dramatic resonances which is a game changer. However it is not just playwriting skills you learn, but also editorship, critique, working effectively to deadlines and a great sense of literary camaraderie. Finally the Criterion Theatre itself is the perfect host, a true privilege to work on the stage.
The Criterion New Writing Programme was intensive, exhausting and one of the best things I have ever done as a writer. Greg Mosse has an astute sense of how a play should be structured - more importantly, he is able to communicate this so clearly that you find yourself internalising the principles yourself. Then being able to workshop scenes with a room of highly talented actors is an extraordinary gift. Thanks to Greg and the Criterion for making it possible!
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