by Elizabeth Bradford
I first worked with Someone New Theatre Company as the Production Manager for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes podcast in 2020. Like every other theatre company on planet Earth, the pandemic hit the company hard, and I’ve been patiently waiting in the wings for things to return to some semblance of normality so that I could get in-line to be involved with them again. Because, like every other theatre company on planet Earth, the pandemic hitting them hard means that they’re full of ideas and have an arsenal of plans to execute them, and I really wanted to be a part of that.
I was invited to the Writers New retreat as part of the creative team for this year’s SNTC Presents podcast production — no, I won’t be giving away any spoilers on what it is! The process of adapting a novel to a dramatised audiobook takes several months, especially when you’re working remotely with your production team as I will be. My co-creator, Marli, and I, are committed to getting the script together as soon as possible so that we can spend more time building the world before we bring our actors onboard for the project, so being able to do so in-person and at a fancy-a** homestead in Mount Macedon was an offer too good to refuse.
Surprisingly, the most rewarding part of the retreat for me wasn’t being able to work in the same room with Marli. I had better say that that was nice though, in case she’s reading this! Admittedly, what I am most grateful for is regaining confidence that I had lost as a writer.
Despite being in several lockdowns throughout 2020 and 2021, where other writers might have had the time and space to write, I worked on three online podcast productions that drained creativity from my writing. I was also stuck inside my home with my family and homeschooling my eldest son. Now, that isn’t to say that the projects I was involved in weren’t creatively rewarding — quite the opposite, actually! — but my circumstances meant that I wasn’t able to immerse myself in my own creativity in a sustainable way. Any writer reading this will know exactly what I mean.
As a part of Writers New, each writer was offered two hours and a safe, supportive space to pitch their play ideas to the Someone New team. Gracie, Ryan and Jo each offered a different method of problem-solving any issues and were full of ideas to help fill in the gaps that hadn’t quite been resolved in our pitches. Aside from being very good at writing on a whiteboard, as a published playwright, Ryan’s advice on play structure and plot was not only insightful, but genuinely useful as he worked 1:1 with each person on their individual project.
I spent time working with Jo, as she fleshed out the idea for an anthology script, which will be used as part of the Someone New directing intensive taking place later in 2022. I learned a lot from watching someone else’s brainstorming process and as a result, I have grown to truly admire her as a creative. She has just the right amount of patience and passion to work through her ideas — something that I lack — and I was really grateful to bounce ideas with her as she worked through her script outline.
Watching everyone work during the intensive presented me with an opportunity to reflect on my own self as a writer, which was not what I anticipated from a weekend away where my single goal was to start work on a podcast adaptation. For a long time, I have made excuses about why I wasn’t writing — heck, I even did it at the start of this blog post!
The importance of discipline as a writer was hammered into me during university. Did I pay attention to that? Of course. Did I put it into practice when I went off into the world on my own? I’ll say yes on the off-chance that someone from the course reads this, but the truth is, I stopped writing because I lack discipline. A hard truth.
Being a part of a community that places importance on mentoring and leadership development was one of the main reasons that I wanted to be a part of Someone New this year, but it turns out that what I really needed was writing buddies. For all intents and purposes, we’re going to define this as:
Professional individuals who are friendly, experienced and honest, in a way that nurtures personal growth and fosters creativity.
Writers New was about offering writers space, time and providing support. Listening to others inspired me and watching others work meant that I wanted to be a part of the collective creativity that was present. I think kids these days call it FOMO!
To be a part of the company as a writer was not something that I had really considered, but it’s definitely a part of my creative pathway for 2022. Of course, the added benefit of being involved with Someone New is their goal of wanting to get playwrights’ works professionally produced — in this industry, that can often lead to failed dreams and boxes of unfinished scripts — but that might not necessarily be the selling point for everyone who wants to come on board.
I would welcome anyone who struggles with discipline as a writer or anyone who lacks confidence and wants a supportive environment to learn to get in contact and get involved. But not just that either. If you’ve got a script ready to go, you should consider submitting it to Write or Wrong? Competition which opens in March. More on this, here.
Ryan, Jo and Gracie have big plans for 2022 and they need a team to help execute them. Don’t wait in the wings for it to happen. Be a part of it as it happens!