Merry Tricksmas! 16/12/2021

It’s been a tough year for all of us and a rough year for theatre. The latest developments are a stark reminder that we’re far from out of the woods and we’re still riding the corona-coaster where uncertainty abounds. However, as we brace ourselves for whatever happens next, we wanted to look forward to the hope of a new year and celebrate everything we’ve achieved this year.

We kicked off 2021 announcing our Screen/Play Award Finalists and our Panel selected the two winners, Sarah Tarbit and Conway McDermott. Throughout 2021, we’ve been working in partnership with Sky Studios to support the writers to develop a screenplay and stage play. Join us for the Screen/Play Sharings at HOME in February as we share both plays and have a panel discussion on Representation in Theatre.

Our four PlayBoxers – Adam Fenton, Stef Reynolds, Mitesh Soni and Daneka Etchells – have been busy writing and developing their PlayBox plays. In October and November, each of the pieces had a day-long R&D workshop with actors and are in their final stage of rewriting ahead of public readings at our PlayBox Takeover 2022 at HOME next month.

Back in the summer, we shared our New Tricks season of new plays in development. How to Survive the War by Lizzie Nunnery and Too Much World at Once by Billie Collins were developed by the seaside at Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough and new indie musical How Soon is Now? by Siân Owen was workshopped at Octagon Theatre Bolton.

Supported by the Genesis Foundation’s Kickstart Fund, this year we welcomed five Associate Artists to the company. During a year-long attachment, our Associates will be embedded within the company and given agency to establish their own creative journey: supporting the Box of Tricks’ professional development programme, developing their creative practice and exploring the needs of the wider creative community of offstage artists across the North.

In October, we raised the roof for our 15th Birthday Shindig live and loud from The Yard Manchester. With live theatre, music, poetry and a quiz, we celebrated in style. We launched our 15th Birthday Appeal to raise £15,000 for our ambitious Time to Write programme supporting PlayMakers what they do best: make plays. Every penny – 100% of the money raised – will go directly to Northern playwrights to find their voice, tell their stories and write new plays. If you’d like to support our campaign, please help us spread the word on social media and Donate Today >>>.

In November, our PlayMakers Takeover brought together Northern playwrights and theatremakers to connect, collaborate and create at HOME Manchester. We had a Culture Café conversation with Northern playwrights, a Masterclass on Writing from Lived Experience and our first ToolBox Workshop for local Stage Designers. Following its airing on Sky Arts in May, which attracted over 4000 viewers, our production of David Judge’s explosive one-man play SparkPlug was screened in the cinema at HOME followed by a Q&A.

Throughout this year, our PlayMakers Network has grown and evolved to connect playwrights across the North. We delivered eight free online Masterclasses and countless Creative Surgeries. Our ever-popular Pen Pals exchange programme has paired 36 playwrights in its three cycles so far and we have an open call for Cohort 4.

Committed to a fairer future, we published our Equality & Diversity Report 2020-21. We reflected on our progress so far and shared monitoring data on our core team, creatives and freelance workforce as well as outlining our Top Priorities for 2022. Check out how we’re driving Positive Action and our plans for the future.

Looking ahead to 2022, we have lots of exciting prospects on the horizon. We’re announcing three Associate Playwrights who will be joining us to explore specific aspects of their craft and develop an idea throughout the year. The new year means new plays as we launch head-first into our weekend-long PlayBox Takeover followed by our Screen/Play Sharings at HOME Manchester. And, after a two-year hiatus, we have an exciting tour announcement waiting in the wings – watch this space…!

Merry Tricksmas one and all! Thank you so much for your ongoing support in these challenging times. It’s been a joy to share live theatre with you all again and celebrate 15 years of new playmaking. Here’s to brighter times in the year ahead!

Festive love,

Adam Quayle and Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder
Joint Artistic Directors, Box of Tricks