Playwright Simon Stephens to open conference ‘Turning the Page: Creating New Writing (1945-2013)’

Simon Stephens will deliver the keynote platform at conference ‘Turning the Page: Creating New Writing (1945-2013)’ at the University of Reading on September 13th 2013.

In the last of three conferences organized by the AHRC-funded project, Giving Voice to the Nation:The Arts Council of Great Britain and the Development of Theatre and Performance in Britain 1945 -1995′, the University of Reading and Victoria and Albert Museum seek to chart and explore the peaks and troughs of New Writing since the advent of state subsidy to the arts. With a specific focus upon fostering dialogue across the decades, this conference brings together academics, practitioners, funders and policy-makers to share knowledge, perspectives and insights into the histories, practices and discourses of ‘New Writing’.

Keynote speaker Simon Stephens is an award winning playwright whose recent work includes ‘London’ (Salisbury Playhouse), ‘Morning’ (Traverse Theatre) and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ (National Theatre), which is currently playing at the Apollo Theatre and won the 2013 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. He has taught on the Young Writers’ Programme at the Royal Court Theatre and is currently Artistic Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith. Stephens’s work is particularly popular in Germany where his writing is some of the most frequently produced of any English playwright, including Shakespeare.

Stephens will be joined by freelance translator and lecturer Michael Raab, who has worked in the field of dramaturgy at the State Theatre, Stuttgart, the Munich Kammerspiele, State Theatre, Mainz and the Schauspiel, Leipzig.

Their keynote panel ‘Two Kingdoms: England vs. Germany’ will see the practitioners discuss the reception and relationship of new British writing in Germany and is one of a number of keynote platforms scheduled across the two day conference featuring a host of prominent theatre practitioners and academics.

Dr. Graham Saunders, Principal Investigator of the ‘Giving Voice to the Nation’ research project, said:

“This conference comes at a timely moment when issues of funding new writing, the increasing role of the dramaturge and literary manager in theatre institutions and the teaching of theatre ‘texts’ in University drama departments have all changed radically in the past 10 years. This two day conference at the University of Reading brings together a wide range of playwrights, practitioners and academics with the intention of providing “a state of play(writing)” in contemporary British theatre and performance.”

Friday 13th September 2013 (9.30am – 5.30pm) Saturday 14th September 2013 (9.30am – 5.30pm)

Conference registration is now open and available via the University of Reading’s online shop:

Full rate: Single Day £50. Both days £100.
Writers’ Guild of Great Britain / Unwaged / Postgraduate Student Day
Rate: £40
Lunch and coffee is included in the conference fee.


FTT undergraduates work with Theatre Royal Stratford East

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Students from the University of Reading are working with the renowned Theatre Royal Stratford East on an exciting international project that will see thirty new one-person shows performed in thirty homes across London.

Students from the Department of Film, Theatre & Television will be filming all thirty performances that are set to be performed simultaneously on Saturday 26 October. The films will then be broadcast online and at Theatre Royal Stratford East on Saturday 9 November, enabling audiences from around the world to see the work and be part of the conversation online.

Home Theatre (UK), which is being run in partnership with the Festival Internacional de Cenas em Casa (International Festival of Home Theatre) in Brazil, is a pan-London project. It will link boroughs from across the capital, including some of the city’s more affluent areas with Newham, a vibrant and diverse borough with extremely low arts engagement, where there are major influxes of new residents as the post-Olympic regeneration continues. The intention is to capture the spirit of London and to place Theatre Royal Stratford East’s own borough of Newham in this context.

Artists working on the project will take their inspiration from the stories of those who are hosting the work in their own homes. At the end of the week, hosts will be encouraged to invite an audience of friends and family to see a free performance. The host is then asked to provide a meal, over which thoughts and experiences can be shared.

A final year University of Reading student will work on each of the one person shows. They will observe rehearsals and contribute to the development of the project by creating an integrated strategy for filming the resulting performance.

For many of the students taking part, the work on Home Theatre (UK) will be embedded within a third year module on Contemporary Performance, which explores both performance in non-theatrical contexts and the introduction of digital technologies into live performance. Others will draw on the interests in theatre and skills in filmmaking that the BA Film & Theatre has helped them to develop, and may choose to extend their reflection on the process in the form of a Work Based Learning module. Colleagues from Theatre Royal Stratford East will also be sharing experience and insights with the students involved, through talks and events at the theatre.

Kerry Michael, Artistic Director at Theatre Royal Stratford East said “We’re excited to be working with students from the University of Reading on this unique project. Filming the performances is a key element of the project as it will enable audiences from across the world to watch and take part in the conversation.”

The Department of Film, Theatre & Television at the University of Reading is the longest-established Film Studies department in British Higher Education, and has been teaching Theatre for longer still, as well as pioneering the study of Television. It is highly regarded for its teaching and research, and puts a particular emphasis on the integration of practical work with critical, theoretical and historical approaches to the three art forms.

Dr John Gibbs, Head of the University of Reading’s Department of Film, Theatre and Television, said: “Home Theatre (UK) is a very exciting project and another example of Theatre Royal Stratford East exploring the relationship between art and audiences. This partnership provides an outstanding opportunity for our students to develop their conceptual understanding of theatre and performance, and their professional knowledge and skills through a close working relationship with one of the country’s most important and innovative theatres.”

For more information please contact James Barr at the University of Reading press office on 0118 378 7391 or or Felix Mussell, Press & Marketing Manager on 020 8279 1110 or email