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New Writing

About Us


SJT Literary Policy

Due to the ongoing pandemic and staff being furloughed, it will take longer to reply to you about your script than usual - please bear with us!

The Stephen Joseph Theatre has a proud history of producing exciting, inspiring, world-class new writing. As well as producing the world premieres of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays, we have produced new writing by playwrights including Torben Betts, Vanessa Brooks, Fiona Evans, Tim Firth, Vicky Ireland, Dawn King, Stephen Mallatratt and Claudine Toutoungi.

If you have written a brilliant play which you think would be a great fit for the SJT, we would like to hear from you.

We are currently looking for:

· New, original plays

· Plays with a focus on local/regional stories, ideally Yorkshire or coastal

· Plays which are bold and theatrically adventurous

· Adaptations of books/films (if you already have the adaptation rights)

· Plays with female protagonists and at least 50% female characters

· Work for families and young people

· New musicals

Female writers, ethnically diverse writers and writers from diverse socio-economic backgrounds are currently under-represented in our submissions, therefore we are particularly interested in receiving plays from these writers. The SJT is committed to engaging with artists from a wide range of backgrounds and identities, because we believe that this results in the most interesting, vibrant and engaging theatre.

We are NOT currently looking for:

· Proposals or incomplete scripts

· First drafts - as we do not have the capacity to accept resubmissions

· Plays that have already been produced

· Biographical plays about historical figures

Sometimes writers send their plays to us because they feel they are “Ayckbourn-esque”. Since we are lucky enough to have the real Alan Ayckbourn working here at the SJT, we are unlikely to programme plays which are very similar to his work. If you think that your play falls into this category then we suggest that it might be better suited to other theatres.

*Please note submissions are now closed for this year and will reopen in spring 2021*

Our literary department is small, and we want to engage with the work of as many different writers as possible. For this reason we can accept one script submission per writer per year.

If you have more than one play you wish to send to us, please choose the one you think would suit the SJT best, based on the above guidelines (“We are currently looking for…”). Unless we specifically invite you to send us further examples of your work, please wait until the next submission window before sending another play to us.

We encourage writers to engage with the work of the SJT where possible, in order to get a flavour of the sort of plays we produce. Please come and see our productions in the Round, the McCarthy and also our OutReach productions, here at the SJT or on tour.

Please email your script to us and please include in the subject line:

[Title of play] by [author] e.g. Top Girls by Caryl Churchill

Please ALSO download and then complete our Script Submission Form, which you can find at the bottom of this page. Please download this to your computer before completing it and attaching to your email.

Unfortunately we cannot read scripts unless this cover form is also submitted. This is to help us keep track of all submissions in a streamlined, efficient way and therefore gives us more time to read more plays! We only accept scripts via email, rather than paper copies, for eco-friendly reasons.

Once your play has been submitted, the following things will happen:

· You will receive an acknowledgement email

· Once evaluated, your script may then progress to our reading panel. If we are not able to take your play further, we will let you know within 6 months. Unfortunately we are not able to give specific feedback or enter into any correspondence about your play. This is due to the large number of script submissions and our limited resources.

· If your script is recommended by the reading panel, it will then be passed onto the senior artistic team.

The large volume of submissions means that this process can take up to 6 months. During this time please do not make contact, as we may not be able to answer you.

If we do want to take your play further, we may invite you to participate in one of the following ways:

· Second Stage – an SJT showcase of extracts of new work, from local playwrights and also plays which have been submitted to the literary department, from national and international writers

· Play Reading event – a script in hand rehearsed reading of your play, at the SJT

· Further discussions about a possible full production of your script, or discussions about commissioning/seed-commissioning a new play from you

The SJT commissioning opportunities include:

· Productions for our youth theatre group
· Productions for our OutReach department
· Productions in the McCarthy theatre
· Productions in The Round

If you feel your play is not ready for full production or that you want to gain more writing experience, we offer a writing course via our OutReach Department.

This course culminates in First Draft - a public showcase of new writing from the participants, at the SJT. Writers from this course often then go on to have a play selected for Second Stage.

Thank you to everyone who has submitted scripts to us. We appreciate that writing plays is not easy, and requires huge energy, bravery and will power, as well as talent. Even if your play does not find a home here at the SJT, we encourage you to submit your work to other theatres and to keep writing!

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funded by
Arts Council England
Whitby-Scarborough-Filey Borough of Scarborough
Discover Yorkshire Coast