Attention all aspiring BME playwrights!

Posted on 22 May 2013

Once again we’re looking for 20 aspiring writers to take part in our free Critical Mass playwriting programme specifically for writers from Black and Minority Ethnic Communities.

Now in its fourth year, Critical Mass is an 11 week playwriting programme that will be running at the Belgrade from September to December 2013 for writers aged 18 and above from Black and Minority Ethnic Communities.

The programme will give participants the opportunity to write an entire play and also learn more about plot development and characterisation.

Leon Phillips, the Belgrade’s Drama Worker for BME communities said, “Critical Mass is an excellent programme for new writers; it allows you to develop your writing skills alongside a group of like minded people who are mostly at the same level as you. Some previous participants have gone on to have their work preformed on the Belgrade stage in the form of rehearsed readings, and we’ve also invited participants back to write plays for our youth groups, again having their original pieces performed on the Belgrade stage.”

Previous Critical Mass programmes have been met with great success among participants. Bola Agbaje, who wrote her play Gone Too Far during the programme, said: “Critical Mass has changed my life.”

People wishing to apply for this year’s Critical Mass programme may submit up to 10 pages of writing intended for performance on stage. This does not have to be a full piece of work, it can take the form of a few scenes, but it should be the most gripping part of the story.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 19th July 2013. Please send two copies of your submission, clearly marked as ‘Critical Mass Submission’. This can be handed it at the theatre’s Box Office or sent to Leon Phillips either by email at or via post to Belgrade Theatre, Belgrade Square, Coventry, CV1 1GS.

To help with your applictaion a writing exercise can be downloaded from the right hand side of this page.

The Belgrade Community & Education Company has a strong commitment to representing the diversity of Coventry’s communities, and has been working hard to build links with local BME groups via the Critical Mass programme and Black Youth Theatre.

In December 2010, the theatre was commended at the national Awards for Bridging Cultures for its work in encouraging intercultural dialogue.

Previous projects have included Hussan and Harry (2005), a play about experiences of warfare, with a group of young asylum seekers, The First Time I Saw Snow (2008), a TiE tour about new incoming communities and smaller-scale collaborations with grassroots BME organisations such as Black Boys Can.

The Community & Education Company has also established a reputation for its In Our Own Words community festivals, which in previous years have been inspired by stories from both the Bible and the Qur’an, and on true stories of immigration to the city.

The Belgrade Theatre runs a very varied programme of community and artist development work including five youth theatre groups, A BTEC programme for those at risk of exclusion from school and other bespoke projects like the Critical Mass programme. One of the Belgrade’s key aims is to offer the opportunity for previously un-heard voices to have a platform to tell their stories, which often involves running targeted programmes for those currently under-represented within the industry. Critical Mass was originally set up in partnership with the Royal Court, aiming to build a pool of BME playwrights as the voices of these communities are less heard, as they can often be a minority voice within a group.

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