There is a big difference between writing plays for intimate stages and West End venues. Criterion New Writing gives dramatists already working in small spaces the chance to develop their craft for larger venues – by working alongside experienced theatrical professionals.

Photography: Benjamin Graham

About

Criterion New Writing, which is free of charge to participants, has grown from strength to strength. Since 2015, when the programme was launched, 102 playwrights have completed the course with a number of showcased plays now in commercial development.

View of the stage from the rear of the auditorium

Criterion New Writing grew out of a conversation between two friends. Both involved in the world of theatre, both good friends of ‘The Cri’.

They both agreed how difficult it must be for a playwright to imagine devising a new two-act play for a traditional West End Theatre, then pledged to turn their discussion into a practical solution. Working tirelessly, with support from many other professionals – actors, directors, producers, theatre managers and technicians – they created Criterion New Writing, a series of script development workshops taking place on stage at the Cri.

Criterion New Writing, which is free of charge to participants, has grown from strength to strength since that first workshop back in 2015.  We look forward to developing further the work of our existing graduates and welcoming new writers to the programme when the theatre re-opens.

The Criterion New Writing program that Greg and I imagined covers almost all the bases, bringing together writers, actors and directors in an astonishingly rigorous workshop process, culminating in fantastic live Showcase performances. The next step surely has to be to support these works a stage further on their path to full-blown professional production.” Peter Clayton
New Writing workshop
Actor holding script

12 Week Course – Annual Showcases – Script Development

New writing the Criterion way

At the heart of the Criterion New Writing programme is a simple idea – that the best place to write for a West End stage is on a West End stage. 

Actors feet

New writing the Criterion way

It brings groups of six playwrights together in a series of ‘Writer’s room’ sessions, during which they effectively create, refine and showcase a play. They’re supported from first idea through to showcase performance and beyond, by programme facilitator Greg Mosse, West End actors and specialist technicians.

New writing workshop group sitting in a circle

CNW Annual Showcases

Each year we invite applications from CNW graduates for our showcases program – presenting extracts of new writing performed to an invited audience of industry and peers. The Showcases take place in the autumn with three rehearsed 30-minute extracts over three afternoons.

Actor on stage

CNW Annual Showcases

The goal of the showcase is to create an opportunity for nine new works to be tested in performances – some fully staged, script in hand or off book, sometimes simply as well-rehearsed readings.

Only when the text meets its audience can the author fully judge what they have achieved – and how much work remains to be done.

Actors on stage in the workshop

Story Development Programme

The goal of CNW Story Development is to lead each playwright to a complete understanding of their unwritten play, including an outline of characters and action – and to provide them with a powerful executive summary with which to approach potential producers and directors.

Group reading scripts

Story Development Programme

Each course engages three graduates of the CNW course working with Greg Mosse over three months.

Graduates working with Greg Mosse
 
 
 
I’ve just finished the three-month story development course with Greg and it has really developed my ideas and made me think about structure differently. Greg sets us many challenges and suggested a range of new ways of looking at stories. As a result, I have an outline for a play I’m excited to write and some great new writing colleagues to share ideas with…”

Partnerships

Beyond the West End

In 2019 we introduced our Partnerships program. Supporting new writing for mid to large spaces, in partnership with regional theatres, CNW ‘graduates’ and with the support of Arts Council England.

Our first Partnership project in March was with Worthing Theatres and writer Sumerah Srivastav on her play ACCESSION. Working with local actors over two days this led to a rehearsed reading and Q & A session at Worthing Theatre. Worthing Theatres has a strong theatre programme which is mainly a mix of well - known texts and physical theatre. They were keen to explore new writing and test this with their audiences.

The sessions in Worthing were followed by further development work on the play, rehearsals and a further reading at the Criterion Theatre in May.

The rehearsals of Accession were a fantastic opportunity for the team to experience the early development of a new piece of writing and the rehearsed reading was very well received by the invited audience. We had a fantastically positive response, people found seeing the creative process very interesting. It was also a very rewarding experience for the local actors in the cast.” AMANDA O’REILLY, HEAD OF CULTURE AND PROGRAMMING, WORTHING THEATRES

 

Testimonials

Don’t just take our word for it

Having the chance to feedback to writers from an actor’s perspective is also incredibly rare and a privilege to do!”

ALYS METCALF

The writing is alive and a joy to read.”

CHANTELLE DUSETTE 

The workshop’s emphasis on practicality, collaboration and craft was exactly what I was looking for.”

HIMANSHU OJHA

Criterion New Writing helped me smash through the glass ceiling and inspired me to write in a totally different way. It has changed my thinking, my approach and has made me fall in love with writing all over again.”

BERNIE C BYRNES

To be in such a legitimately diverse group immediately put me at ease, and despite being in an extremely impressive West End venue, we were made to feel like we belonged.”

NINA MILLNS

It’s so rare, as an emerging writer, that you have the chance to see your work on big stages and to understand how they function differently as spaces from studio theatres.”

SARAH GROCHALA
 
 
 
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