Write by the Quays

Thursday 3 May 2012, 13:59

Jennifer Tuckett Jennifer Tuckett Lecturer, University of Salford

In October 2011, we started work on Write by the Quays, a joint project between the University of Salford and BBC Writersroom North to celebrate the launch of Media City UK in Salford.

Over the course of the next three months, students from across the University of Salford worked closely with Henry R. Swindell, New Writing Manager at BBC Writersroom North, to develop short plays about or inspired by Salford – there was an opportunity to attend a launch event for the project, a pitching session and a development workshop.

In total, around 200 students benefitted from these workshops, including 80 students on targeted modules.

In January the entries – over 150 of them – came in.

These were shortlisted by myself and Henry before being passed on to our generous judges – actress Shobna Gulati, Creative Director of New Writing at the BBC Kate Rowland and Associate Director at the Bush Theatre Omar Elerian.

On March 21st, the final six winning pieces of work were produced at BBC Dock House at the Write by the Quays showcase at Media City – directed by Elizabeth Newman, Associate Director at the Octagon Theatre Bolton, and performed by professional actors Cassie Atkinson, Paul Ryan Carberry, Eve Steele and Simon Trinder.

The Write by the Quays showcase was performed before an audience of BBC staff, including many who had recently moved up to Salford, as well as students, their families and the public, offering many a chance to go inside the BBC buildings at Media City for the first time.

Accompanying this blog are two films – interviews with the student winners and a highlights film of the Write by the Quays showcase which took place at Media City.

Both of these films have been entirely filmed, directed, produced and edited by University of Salford students.

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Highlights from the BBC writersroom / University of Salford Write by the Quays showcase.

As a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Salford, I am aware that the opening of Media City has sometimes been controversial.

The majority of our students at the University of Salford come from Salford or the surrounding areas, many are mature students or students who are the first in their families to go to University and most of these students had never written a play or been to Media City before this project.

In the course of the project, over 500 students had the opportunity to work with Writersroom and all have, I know, come out feeling that Media City is a place which is open and welcoming to them and that both writing and working with the BBC are possible career paths they could pursue.

Above all, I hope that the Write by the Quays project has been a fitting celebration of the BBC and University of Salford’s joint move to Media City, demonstrating that, with training and investment, there is a wealth of local talent from Salford, ready and waiting to be developed even further than we have been able to do with this project.


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Interviews with the students who participated in the Write by the Quays project.


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    Comment number 1.

    Write by the Quays, in my opinion, was badly run. All of the entrants (including me) were supposed to be informed of the results on a specific date. Nevertheless, the results' announcement was postponed by the uni's press office at the last minute until another specific date. Once again, the results' announcement was delayed. However, the winning entrants had already been informed of their success in Write by the Quays. A bit unfair on the losing entrants, eh? As winners, they attended rehearsals for the performances of their plays. They also filmed a video segment that would be played at the Write by the Quays Showcase. This can be seen above. In terms of the performances of the plays, I liked only two. I enjoyed Sheryl's play and I enjoyed Adam's play. Both were very interesting to watch and they really fit in with contemporary society. On a more positive note, Jennifer Tuckett was a really good lecturer and made playwright seem very interesting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Just noticed this... First impressions? One of sinking shoulders and bowing head; the script in hand excerpts were unanimously poor and by that I mean I'd feel incredibly cheated if I'd paid money to see them. Why? Emotions appear like magic from the actors mouths where there was none, on the nose dialogue (yet again), cliches and ping-pong dialogue in general. And yet again nothing actually happens - dialogue is only one tool in the drama box. Okay, it's not easy from a script in hand session but they were universally poor. And this was the best of the best? Top gun? I suggest they shed themselves of all the dramturgs, professors, boss of this and boss of that, find a quiet room and read Alexander McKendricks book 'On Film-making'. Then ask yourself honestly should I really be doing this? Am I going to waste five, possibly ten years of my life getting nowhere because I simply wasn't brave enough to own up to myself that I can't do this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Just an afterthought? I did the degree, post grad thing and to date have never used anything from them. I have two books published (both rubbish) and was shortlisted for the Alfred Bradley Award for drama - it again being pretty much rubbish. To paraphrase Frank Skinner "Then I did what everybody does when they get an MA in English Literature, I spent three years on the dole." Allowing someone to teach robs you of self. Be original, if not then at least be unique - what works today may not work tomorrow and remember that the only real exam you will ever have to pass is audience reaction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It's so distressing. I actually studied under a professor of creative writing a few years ago who had never sold anything. I also bumped into someone in the space reserved for lecturers et seq who asked who I was? Then I asked him who he was he said "I teach comedy." I waited for the punch line. None forthcoming. The whole university, BBC thing at the time felt like one big networking event and that's okay but if I'd known at the time (I was just a student) I would have given them all a round of applause.


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