New plays

New Plays title with pile of books on a shelf

Alongside the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, we commission and produce a wealth of new plays.

Our Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman explains why:

Deputy Artistic Director of the RSC, Erica Whyman, explains why we commision new writing at the Royal Shakespeare Company'Shakespeare was once a new writer. His work was shocking, thrilling, bold. We want to nurture, provoke and present the work of writers who are doing the same thing today.

'We are living through fascinating times – there's a great deal to say and an appetite for big questions and rich ideas.

'Our job is to connect contemporary writers and audiences to the spirit of Shakespeare. He and his contemporaries had a strong sense of the world in which they were living and how it was changing. That's something we inherit directly from them.

'By including writers and new plays as part of our work we keep it new and daring, just as Shakespeare's work was in his own time.'

Making new plays and working with writers
We commission and develop a wealth of new plays from contemporary writers. They have a scope that explores anything from questions about feminism, race or religion to the foundation of modern America or the politics of English football. They include brand new plays, large scale musicals, new translations and adaptations and ambitious work for families and for young people.

Phil Porter, Pippa Hill and Tom Piper (Designer) on a research trip for The Christmas TrucePhoto: Writer Phil Porter, Literary Manager Pippa Hill and Designer Tom Piper on a research trip for The Christmas Truce.

Our writers are encouraged to be inspired by the scale and scope of Shakespeare's plays and by his facility and experiments in language and sometimes we want directly to respond to some of his preoccupations.

Season by season we are interested in provoking new thinking about key ideas or moments in our history so we may offer a writer a theme, but we are also open to wholly surprising ideas.

In return for their commitment and ambition we give them the time and resources to write at their fingertips. We individually tailor the play development process to fit the writer and project.

Alice Birch and Collette McCarthy at the Midsummer Mischief provocation dayPhoto: Writer Alice Birch with Literary Assistant Collette McCarthy at the Midsummer Mischief provocation day.

Through the creative engine which is The Other Place, we give writers access to time and space to work on their script with actors, directors, composers and designers. It is a place to experiment and to develop new ideas. It will also be a festival theatre in which we can present adventurous small-scale performances of new work.

Recent, current and future projects
We currently have 12 writers under commission for our stages. Our upcoming new plays in production are The Christmas Truce by Phil Porter and Oppenheimer by Tom Morton-Smith.

Recent new plays produced include:

Rejane and Mark RavenhillThe Literary Department
This is overseen by Erica Whyman, and led by Pippa Hill, Literary Manager; working with her are Réjane Collard-Walker, Literary Projects Coordinator, and Collette McCarthy, Literary Assistant. They are all based in our London office.

As well as commissioning and developing all of our new plays and writer-led projects, the team also work on edits and dramaturgy for the classical texts, research and commission translations and adaptations, and lead on all of our literary endeavours.

To find out more about new plays and the work of the Literary Department follow our Other Place blog on tumblr.

Photo: Réjane Collard-Walker and Mark Ravenhill, RSC Writer in Residence 2012-14.

Script policy
We do not accept unsolicited scripts, instead we identify writers we are interested in working with by closely monitoring new work across the UK. If you have a play reading, workshop sharing, or show coming up and you would like to invite us, you can email us at literary@rsc.org.uk (giving us as much notice as possible).

The RSC Literary Department is generously supported by THE DRUE HEINZ TRUST.

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