The Ustinov Writers’ Forum Moves to the Tobacco Factory

As you might have spotted if you read this blog regularly, I’ve been a member of a superb group of writers at the Ustinov. This group is now moving to the Tobacco Factory and this statement from the Forum explains the how and the why. If you would like to know more about what we’re up to and how you can support us, please read to the end!


In July the members of the Ustinov Writers’ Forum are leaving Theatre Royal Bath to start a new relationship with the Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol.

Why move?
Theatre Royal Bath has reassessed the function of the studio space and its place within the organisation. As part of the strategy devised by Theatre Royal Bath’s Director and endorsed by the Board of Trustees, the Theatre sought to appoint a leading creative artist at the head of the Ustinov Studio to produce six in-house shows a year. Support for playwrights and Forum members was however moved from the Ustinov into the new Engage programme, which supports and encourages the interest, enjoyment and skills of adults in the performing arts at all levels of involvement. Disappointingly, the support reduced or removed some key services and fell below our expectations as a professional group: we therefore decided to seek a new home that we felt shared our commitment to the development and production of new work by regional writers.

Our achievements to date
Whilst we find the circumstances surrounding our departure from Theatre Royal Bath regrettable, we are very pleased to have achieved so much in two years with the support of the Ustinov, which has financed the Forum to provide industry-level development for professional writers; workshops; script reading; collaborative projects; visiting speakers and support for emerging and established writers in their desire to explore original ideas. Three Forum writers were seeded and supported to start new plays, five of the members’ scripts were staged as public readings, seven short plays were produced, eleven plays received half or full-day development sessions and fifteen writers were provided with one-to-one surgeries on their scripts. Four plays supported through Script Factory went on to professional production: COLLIDER and CIRCUS BRITANNICA by Shaun McCarthy, HERDING CATS by Lucinda Coxon and WATER’S NOT SO THICK by Gill Kirk.

Our next steps
We’re looking forward to the next stage of our development as a group. We hope being hosted by the Tobacco Factory Theatre to continue our work will allow us to build a wide range of new creative partnerships with theatres, producers, directors, actors and companies:

“We’re delighted to welcome the Writers’ Forum to the Tobacco Factory Theatre. The Forum’s hugely valuable activities complement our own commitment to the development and creation of new work and we are excited about the future of this relationship.” – Carrie Rhys-Davies, Education Officer, Tobacco Factory Theatr

How will we fund it?
As well as sharing our artistic aims, the Tobacco Factory Theatre has very generously provided space for monthly meetings, one-off skills workshops and bi-monthly script-in-hand readings in return for our support on new writing initiatives such as Script Space. However, we have no capital funding to run events or pay for professional development. We believe in paying professionals for their work and wish to do so wherever possible. We will be applying for project funding from ACE and other partners to help support this work financially from January 2012.

Your support
It is by coming to public events like script-in-hand readings that many of you have supported the Forum’s work in the past. We hope this can continue in the months ahead. If you would like more information on our plans to maintain and evolve a programme of writer development, are interested in discussing ways to support the Forum financially or creatively, or would simply like to be kept up to speed with the Forum’s future activities, please contact the group’s facilitator David Lane at

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