Lucid: The Writer's Space
I attended an event called The Writer’s Space, organised by Lucid (South Wales-based Simon Harris and Carys Shannon, who have a wealth of experience on both the creative and administrative side of theatre), supported both by Cardiff's Chapter Arts Centre, where it took place, and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. Using the Open Space format, and attended by a few dozen playwrights and other theatre professionals of varying levels of experience, the aim was to gauge the general mood in terms of optimism or pessimism about new theatre writing in Wales, and to come up with concrete proposals in order to help the community to make progress. The organisers are certainly to be congratulated for keeping things moving, ensuring that the points for debate came from the attendees themselves, and averting the general whinge-fest that these mini-conferences can degenerate into. I learnt, amongst other things:- that there is a thriving community of playwrights at Cardiff University who seem completely cut off from the rest of the scene in the city; that some new writers are nervous of their work sharing stages with new work by more experienced writers; that writers in Wales are not shy of attempting to sell themselves in London and elsewhere; and that despite the prevalence of social media and plentiful informal networks, the feeling that one is working in isolation is, perhaps inevitably, endemic. Ultimately, it’s clear that that despite the economic crisis, which will inevitably lead to a diminution in the number of opportunities for properly paid work, people will continue to write, because that’s what writers do. If what results from this event is some kind of on-line resource which will enable writers to connect with other writers (and actors, designers, directors etc.) - maybe to form networks to try and develop their work, maybe to see what opportunities are out there, maybe simply to check up on their rivals - it will have been a success.