Wales Writer in Residence 2019 shortlist announced

We’re delighted to announce the Wales Writer in Residence 2019 shortlist.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony at the Sherman Theatre on 2nd October, taking place on the set of National Theatre Wales / Royal Court production On Bear Ridge by Ed Thomas. Register for tickets to the Wales Writer in Residence ceremony here

Those final 8 scripts will be judged by screenwriter Matthew Hall, BBC Radio 4 Drama Commissioner Alison Hindell, Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales Kully Thiarai, Development Executive, BBC Studios Wales Jenna Robins and BBC Writersroom Wales Development Producer Helen Perry.

The winning writer will be awarded a total bursary of £12,000 to assist their year-long placement as Wales Writer in Residence. Over the 12 months they’re in post they’ll be offered two consecutive residencies; an initial 6 months with BBC Cymru Wales including working with BBC Studios, followed by 6 months with NTW gaining bespoke mentoring and training, and access to expertise and contacts. In addition their winning script will be commissioned, developed and produced for BBC Radio 4 and/or BBC Sounds.

The Wales Writer in Residence is a prestigious new scheme, aimed at furthering a writer’s career across a portfolio of media and which includes a guaranteed broadcast credit.

It is a partnership between BBC Cymru Wales and National Theatre Wales, along with BBC Writersroom Wales, with the intention of supporting new writing talent.

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Forget Her Not by Rhys J Edwards

Rhys trained as a writer at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating with an MA in Text and Performance in 2017. He has written and directed various projects in theatre and audio drama. His credits include, Not John at the Gielgud Theatre (RADA Festival, 2017), The Count of Monte Cristo at Merchants Hall (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2015) and Insane Assumptions at the Mike Barlow Theatre (Cardiff, 2013). He also co-created and wrote numerous episodes of the Radio Cardiff soap Sophia Square, which aired between 2012 and 2014.

Forget Her Not follows the relationship between a young carer and her mother who has recently been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. The story started life as a monologue intended for stage, but the Wales Writer in Residence opportunity motivated Rhys to expand the story, excited at the prospect of incorporating new characters and experimenting with different uses of sound for radio. Inspired by Rhys’ personal experiences of working with people living with dementia, the audio-play highlights the struggles that young carers face, while finding the joy and humour still unwavering in lives touched by tragedy.

Canceltown by Jesse Schwenk

Selected as one of 15 writers for the BBC Writersroom Drama Room scheme 2018 (from 3845 scripts). Jesse’s short radio play A Quark in My Cosmos was broadcast on Radio 3’s The Verb summer 2019. Currently under commission for an episode of an upcoming BBC Sounds podcast drama series. Previously Jesse has been longlisted for the Bruntwood Playwriting Prize 2015, and shortlisted for BBC Drama Wales Award 2014. Theatre includes work as writer and dramaturg for Bombastic dance-theatre and digital media company (including three innovative mini-web series), as well as writing and producing (and occasionally performing) his own independent theatre work.

Canceltown is a dark, gritty, emotional drama about lives going into free fall. With his mother dying, Paul returns to his home town, but he can’t accept the fact that he’s losing custody of his kids. In a chance encounter he meets Tash, a teenager with troubles of her own – Social Services are taking her little brother and putting him into care. But despite their connection, Paul finds that he is powerless to help Tash as she hurtles towards disaster.

Incarnate by Matthew Trevannion

Matthew Trevannion is a playwright from Pontypool, South Wales. His work as an author includes All But Gone (The Other Room Theatre 2018, Best Theatre Production of 2018, Wales Arts Review); Ours of the Day, Radio Play (BBC Radio, Dylan Thomas Centenary, 2015, Aris Theatre, Atlanta USA, 2017); Leviathan (Sherman Cymru, co-Production with Oran Mor, Glasgow, 2015); Little Dogs (National Theatre Wales, 2012, as part of a group); Bruised (Theatre Clwyd, 2012, Nominated for best new play, Writers Guild of Wales Awards, published in Contemporary Welsh Plays, 2015).

Incarnate is the story of one man trapped inside the subconscious of another. Their minds now intwined he must confront their collective failings if either has a chance of a meaningful life”

No Words by Tess Berry-Hart

Tess Berry-Hart is a playwright and activist living in Wales. her theatre play “Cargo” about refugees travelling in a cargo container was produced in London at the Arcola Theatre. Tess’ two verbatim plays, “Someone To Blame” about a miscarriage of justice was produced by the King’s Head Theatre and “Sochi” about the anti-gay propaganda laws in Russia was performed at the Hope Theatre London and at the Edinburgh Festival. Tess’ new show “The Story” about the violence of language will be on at The Other Room in Cardiff in October 2019 as part of the “Violence” series.

When a mysterious Inspector comes to see twelve-year-old David and his dads one afternoon, David’s whole life is about to change dramatically. No Words is from the perspective of David, a non-verbal autistic boy who sees the difference between what is happening in the world around him, and what adults are telling him. Set in a Wales that ranges from the late Cretaceous period to a future one riven by climate change, the play is told through David’s inner voice, exploring the lies that humans tell each other to feel safe and how words themselves aren’t to be trusted. Also contains plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and musical boxes.

A Better Land by Catherine Dyson

Catherine is a writer and performer. Writing credits include Transporter for Theatr Iolo, Thunder Road and Be Brave And Leave For The Unknown for RedCape Theatre (with whom she is Associate Artist), Light Waves Dark Skies (co-written with Matt Ball) Our Curiosities (NTW Located Residency), site specific performance In Ruins and Future Girls, a play commission from a school. Short plays include If We Were Fish (BBC Radio Wales), The Red Hair and Tupelo (Dirty Protest) and My Electric Soul (Sherman). She was part of Sherman New Welsh Playwrights Programme 2016 and the BBC Writersroom Welsh Voices 2018/19.

A Better Land is the story of an unexpected, transformative connection that takes place at the annual Elvis Festival in Porthcawl. An encounter between a young woman and her grandmother, a stranded lorry driver, and a man in extreme exile reveals dark yet hopeful truths about identity, communication and the power of music. This is a story about listening on different levels: to the radio, to music, to each other, and to all the spaces in between.

Moonlight Grey by Rick Allden

In 2005, Rick graduated from Swansea University with a Masters in creative writing and has been trying to explain himself ever since. He’s had a smattering of plays produced, short stories published & two plucky attempts at podcasting. Over the past few years he’s reached the longlist stage of both the BBC Writersroom’s Comedy Room and Drama Room and is delighted to have met some wonderful people along the way.

In an effort to spark her ageing, inert husband back into life, pensioner Marion Grey fakes her own kidnap. She reasons that if she can tap into Leonard’s obsession with Humphrey Bogart, he will regain the passion, hwyl and drive he once had. She never expected him to give her up as dead. Cajoled by his loyal friend Jason, fighting off the advances of Helen the Hoover and with Marion working behind the scenes, Leonard is slowly teased back to life. Moonlight Grey is a comic drama about how our lives, characters and stories are shaped by the people we care most about.

Impacted by Rhiannon Boyle

After graduating in acting from the Royal Welsh College in 1999 Rhiannon worked as an actor for eight years. She made her writing debut in 2007 when she became Dirty Protest Theatre’s first ever ‘Cherry Popper.’ Since then she has written many shorts including – The Whole Truth, Latitude Festival, Un bach Arall, National Eisteddfod, Kindness, WMC and Druggie, Edinburgh Fringe 2019 in collaboration with Paines Plough Theatre. Her screenwriting credits include S4C TV drama Gwaith Cartref and children’s comedy sketch show Cacamwnci. This year Rhiannon’s play The Disquiet was performed at The Other Room in collaboration with Bridgend Theatre.

Impacted tells the story of Alys, a teacher who works at a pupil referral unit where a colleague and friend is arrested for possessing indecent images of children. Alys is overwhelmed with feelings of confusion and disbelief. In order to make sense of things she begins to research paedophilia online and discovers a website set up by Christian who is a self-confessed ‘celibate’ paedophile. They develop a close but complicated, secret relationship, but is Christian really the right person to help her come to terms with the impact of such shocking events?

Heart Full by Matthew Ingram

Matthew is an emerging writer for theatre, TV and radio born and raised in Wales, and currently based in Yorkshire. He has been developed by Sherman Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, The Writing Squad and BBC Writersroom’s Northern Voices scheme, after being shortlisted for the 2018 Writersroom Drama Room. He has recently had a short piece broadcast as part of BBC Radio 3’s The Verb and was a supported writer on The North Wall’s Catalyst residency. He is currently developing a range of projects across theatre, television and radio.

Heart Full is a drama about Dylan, a 12 year-old overweight child who is caught stealing food from the school canteen, and his mother and teachers’ attempts to get to the bottom of his behaviour so that they help him. The piece touches on themes including the relationship between socioeconomics and food, children’s mental health and corporal punishment. Ultimately, though, it’s a story about a child who is trying to find help even if he doesn’t know it, and a support network who are desperately trying (and failing) to get through to him.

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