Student feedback from the Write by the Quays winners

ADAM WHITTAKER (English undergraduate, Playwriting module student):

As a new writer I can’t really explain just how privileged I feel to be involved with this project. From the very beginning every single part of it has been an important lesson in what it means and what it takes to be a writer. I feel honoured to have learnt so much from so many helpful people. Finding out that I was one of the winners was in all honesty, a complete shock. I want to thank all the judges and everyone involved for giving me this precious opportunity.

It has been a strange experience. I was told yesterday that we were getting the complete distilled experience of what it takes to be a writer. I understand what this means now and everything that has happened has spurred me on to believe that this is what I want to do with my life. I want to carry on doing this for as long as possible, even if I never ever get to see another piece of my work performed. Just the joy of being able to identify myself as a writer is enough and writing is now an important part of my life.

It is still bizarre to think of the BBC being up here. I cannot be the only one here who feels excited about the possible opportunities that lie ahead for Salford, so I am glad that we were all able to tell our own little story about the area and I think it helped a lot of people to realise just what an incredible place this city is. Though I myself have only been here for a few months I feel a strong connection to the city and am very proud to say that I live in Salford.

SOMAYYA MIRZA (English undergraduate, Playwriting module student):

When choosing my modules for this academic year, I saw the opportunity to work with the BBC and decided straight away that I wanted to be part of the module. Not only has this module taught me so much about playwriting but has given me this amazing chance to showcase my work in front of some of the most important people in the industry.

The BBC is the most prestigious establishment for anybody in the writing field to be part of. This is particularly special for me as I am a third year university student and have not yet embarked upon setting up a career for myself. It is a dream come true for any student to have their work selected as a winning piece by people such as Shobna Gulati and Kate Rowland.

To have Elizabeth Newman direct my play gave me even more confidence in my work that it is being given such high regard.

I also want to take this opportunity to give a special thanks to my tutor Jennifer Tuckett who is the main reason that I was able to win. She not only taught me everything I know about playwriting but also has been extremely supportive throughout the module, encouraging every student to have faith in their work.

I personally feel that this is one of my greatest ever achievements. I have only ever wanted to be a writer and this is my first step in the right direction which has opened so many new doors for me that may not have been there if BBC did not give this gift to our university.

MATT BRITTON (Scriptwriting postgraduate):

Writing is a solitary act. You sit alone in front of a computer, tapping out your thoughts, pretty disconnected from whoever it might be who will ultimately benefit from your work. Writing for performance can be difficult to gage because if there are no actors to perform it or no audience to watch it – you’re ultimately creating a script for the imaginary reader or critic in your head. ‘Write by the Quays’ has been so useful for me personally, as it has allowed me to see the words on the screen transform to words in the mouths of actors; my thoughts have become the thoughts of living, breathing characters.

Until people are receiving your work- you feel like your work doesn’t really matter. Therefore it was encouraging to hear professional actors discuss with a director my themes and ideas during the rehearsal process. The conversation and discovery seemed to validate the solitary tapping at the blank screen.

I’m grateful for the Bolton Octagon for treating what is essentially a novice script with the respect reserved for a professional writer.

Every writer dreams of getting their work read or seen, ‘Write by the Quays’, is a fantastic opportunity for both. I’m so appreciative for the time and resources the BBC, Salford University and Bolton Octagon have poured in to make it happen.

SOHPIE MOSS (English and Creative Writing undergraduate, Playwriting module student):

Winning Write by the Quays has given me the confidence boost I desperately needed in my writing. I had lost faith in my work and did not think my ideas would amount to anything worth reading yet now I cannot wait to get stuck in to my creative writing work. My family and friends are really proud of me, and that’s something that I’ve always strived for – to be someone that other people are proud of.

Write by the Quays was integrated into Salford University’s Playwriting module, which was helpful for we had lectures that helped us construct our plays to a professional level and really bring the best out of our scripts. We also got the opportunity to pitch our scripts to professional writers, giving the module a more ‘hands-on’ approach compared to previous creative writing modules.

Working with the BBC has been a great experience and will contribute towards massively towards my future career. The BBC is an institution that is be recognised internationally, so it’s a great icebreaker to have on a CV when applying for jobs, especially as an undergraduate – it may be the difference between being taken on or not by an employer. A few months ago I was panicking about obtaining a decent job once finishing uni, but now I feel more secure about the future.

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity you have presented to me.

SHERYL CUNLIFFE (Contemporary Theatre Practice undergraduate, Writing for Performance module student):

First of all may I thank the BBC and the University of Salford for giving me this wonderful opportunity with Write by the Quays. Being able to show my work in such a capacity along with overseeing the rehearsal process has given me a unique insight and one which not all writers can claim to have had the privilege of, so early on in their career.

When I set about writing my piece inspired by Salford, I had one thing in mind and that was to have the element of hope. I think it’s easy and quite a modern condition to be pessimistic especially with an area such as Salford which often gets negative press. However I think what MediaCity represents to Salford is a great optimism -a hope for better and strive for improvement and I wanted my work to reflect this.

So I though it rather apt when researching the area that I should come across an historic figure who also gave such hope to thousands during her lifetime – the great Salfordian, Emmeline Pankhurst. When researching her work I came across stories of such heartache – the severity and unjust of which despite being over a hundred years previous shocked and saddened me, and by retelling one of these heartbreaking stories I hope to give a voice to those, who during their own life time, weren’t lucky enough to possess themselves.

There are too, I believe many young voices today which also go unheard and so by bringing the story into modern day I too can allow them to be heard.

The question I hope to ask with my play Nelson St is how much has really changed between then and now? I would like to think it is the fact – we now, unlike them before, have the right to choose. And it is this choice which enables us to hope for better.

Thanks again to everyone involved in Write by the Quays for allowing my own voice to be heard. It has given me the confidence to progress as a writer and I am very excited about developing my current work as well as working on further projects to come and exposing more voices yet unheard.

Thank you

DAMIAN HEALY (Performing Arts undergraduate, Playwriting module student):

 For anyone who has written before – anything at all – or for anyone who writes, there is nothing more nerve-racking than having your work performed to an audience.  It’s a thrilling experience:  as exciting as it is terrifying.  If I, and others like me, were cleverer, we wouldn’t write scripts – we’d write books.  Books always seem at home when they’re snugly propped between two further volumes, and an Evelyn Waugh.  Scripts, on the other hand, are quite different creatures.  Scripts are not content sitting on a shelf, somewhere.  Scripts need a bit of fresh air, a gin and tonic, a fag, and above all else, an audience…

Winning the ‘Write by the Quays’ event, is far more than simply winning a writing competition.  ‘Write by the Quays’ has allowed new writers a very valuable opportunity in getting their name and work heard, and their diverse talents and voices recognised.  Moreover, having work produced before an audience of BBC professionals, spread across a wide variety of departments, is, for many, a once in a life-time opportunity.