The following are UNEDITED TESTIMONIALS from participants in Write Theatre courses over the past seven years
Interactive online course (June / July 2020)
I came into this course a keen writer but with no experience in theatre writing and it was the most perfect entry point I could have asked for. Rib held a really great space where we, the participants, felt that we could let go of our trepidation and just dive in from the very first session. We tried our hand at writing dialogue and developing characters, we were encouraged to bravely prod at the parts of human experience that are ugly and uncomfortable to really uncover our capacities to write drama in a real and engaging way. Time flew each week as we had a great balance of on screen conversations, independent or group tasks and activities and comfort breaks. I particularly enjoyed being pushed to write new material in between each session and having a chance to have that reviewed and analysed by a real pro! Zahra Dalilah
The Writing Theatre course with Rib was a fabulous experience and I think the migration to an online format worked seamlessly. As there were fewer students it allowed for greater intimacy and more time workshopping and analysing student writing. Rib’s experience and knowledge of play and scriptwriting is enormous and he delivers it all in a relaxed and easy going manner. Those lectures are interspersed with writing exercises that illuminate the discussion points in unexpected ways. Finally I should add that the course is a lot of fun. I got used to spending my Saturday mornings in a virtual classroom and was quite sad that it came to an end. Suffice to say I’ll be signing up again. Shola Asante
In-person courses at The Cockpit
Sometimes you just need some time to get under the skin of the thing, and that’s exactly what Brian and Rib’s wonderful course lets you do. Start with an idea, a fermentation, a thought and after two weekends you end up feeling well-equipped enough to sit down and write a whole play.
This course is so good because it’s intensive. It forces you (in the most pleasant and interesting ways possible) to consider why you’re writing, what you’re doing with your idea, and how you’re going to get there. Brian and Rib draw on decades of experience to help tease out what works and what doesn’t, all in a way that makes you feel confident in your decisions and choices as a writer. The second weekend is dedicated to workshopping which is crucial when you have a roughly-formed, hastily-written script. The actors are professional and helpful with their feedback and both Rib and Brian step in as directors to take your work to places you might not have considered. A great investment and a whole lot of fun. Ellie Ross
Working with Brian and Rib gave me many genuine breakthrough moments. The course is especially good at offering ‘ways in’ – to character, dialogue, structure, etc.; and it is pitched at a level which makes this helpful for both new and more experienced writers. The second weekend, working with (very talented) actors, is what makes it really unique, and incredibly valuable. Understanding how your writing will be read, seeing a script ‘on its feet’, watching it gain flesh through direction – these things are massively important if you don’t want your work to languish in a desk drawer. A fantastic course for all emerging playwrights. Poppy Holman
I am just sitting down to continue work on my play buzzing with all the ideas and possibilities for the writing that were generated by the Write Theatre weekends. The writing exercises, the workshops with the actors, the conversations with the other writers; it all fed into a melting pot of constructive feedback, ideas and thoughts on the work that have provided me with the perfect springboard to carry on and get it written. It was great to sit in a room with other writers and, of course, directors and actors all working together to get the very best out of our fledgling ideas. I left feeling inspired and very grateful for the time and energy you both put into all of us and our writing. Kass Boucher
I recently started writing plays. It’s not something I ever envisaged myself doing but I seem to be addicted. I soon discovered there were rules and laws I could choose to follow or ignore and I needed some guidance. I spotted the Write Theatre course on Twitter and have just finished the second weekend. Both sessions were incredibly enlightening and have given me the confidence to carry on. The course leaders were very much part of the group as well as guiding it and were so selfless in giving their time, knowledge and wisdom. The course was very practical with lots of hands-on and group work, all done without judgement and with lots of constructive feedback. The second weekend, working with actors was a huge learning curve and one I would highly recommend. I’ll definitely be looking out for further Write Theatre courses in the future to help me move forward with my writing. Rachael Forrest
Working with Rib and Brian transformed my capacity to write dialogue and develop dramatic structure in my stories. Their approach is highly practical, very respectful of the variety of creative impulses and imaginations, but also critical where it counts. While it is not the stated aim, the two playwriting courses I did enabled me to bring an idea for a play to final draft. Couldn’t have done it otherwise. Aaron Cass
An intelligent, incisive, supportive , forgiving and releasing writing environment. Blocks I didn’t even know were there were released before I knew it through a series of clever writing games designed to disarm the potential writer and get them writing. Demystifies the process and brings it down to very simple basics. Very constructively challenging – and it’s all about the writing. Teaches you kindly to get out of your own way!
Facilitated by two calm, clever, patient and inspiring practitioners with a real gift for communication and a strong grasp of the over view so no one ‘ goes down the rabbit hole’ . The asset of the three generous and highly talented actors work-shopping the writing excerpts was the icing on the cake. It was an extraordinary experience to observe the actors taking my ( first draft ) writing as seriously as if they were in an RSC rehearsal !! It opened up views and insights on my writing that were an inspiration and which gave me courage.
A rare and mindful environment for creativity and work and crucially no egos – just intelligence, collaboration and support. Excellent. Thank you! Elizabeth Kelly
I found this course online, knowing nothing else about it so it was a bit of a gamble, especially as it was my first ever playwriting course. However, I need not have worried as it ended up being one of the best courses I have ever attended! Brian and Rib are both so supportive and knowledgeable and they create a safe space for everyone to learn together whether creating character, dialogue or writing a full length scene.
The course is very practical so perfect for someone like me-just starting out. It is very intense and they pack a lot in: starting with exercises on creating characters through dialogue in the first weekend, to the second weekend, where you will witness professional actors working on a scene you’ve written, being directed by Brian or Rib, which then culminates in a performance and discussion.
Not only do you have the chance to develop/critique your own writing but that of all the other participants and it was fascinating to learn and share together and to witness the varied ways each of us approached our writing.
I now feel inspired to go away and write my first play and feel confident I have the tools to give it a go! Jamie Phillips
As a writer of prose fiction and monologues, I came to the course wanting to extend my skills into playwriting. The exercises provided to get at the heart of character were really useful, and I will return to these again and again. Seeing at first-hand, the directorial, and actor development of a script was both enthralling and invaluable. Thank you! Nick Stone
One of the richest, most generous learning experiences I’ve ever had. Rib and Brian break down writing process, technique, style and form to the absolute fundamentals, in a way which massively accelerated my understanding and skill development. They are also incredible analysts / editors and moved our work forward by responding instantly, forensically and encouragingly with many small but essential tweaks and shifts to our work. And they are hilarious with it! I was new to writing and am now completely inspired and writing a lot. I cannot recommend this course enough. Rebecca Lee
One of the main reasons I took the Write Theatre course was because I read testimonials like this. I was struck by how positive they were about the experience. After having taken the course, I can see why. Writing courses can often over promise, under deliver and charge you more than they are really worth. With Brian and Rib’s Write Theatre course, it’s the other way round. They waste no time in delivering high quality content that is jam packed with useful discussion, advice and exercises so that you can produce your own high quality work. And for those who have their work played out by professional actors, the experience is something else. They bring everything you write to life, while asking those critical questions that as a writer might not be obvious. I highly recommend taking the Write Theatre course. Jon Reed
The enthusiastic encouragement and sage advice from Rib and Brian has been invaluable. Where I’ve always found the discovery of new characters rather chore-some in the past, this course has provided a way of making it fun. The second weekend in particular – watching actors workshop my words – was particularly inspiring for me. I’ve been writing daily since finishing the course and I haven’t enjoyed it this much in a long time. Marshall Veniar
I am still riding the wave of inspiration you offered me with your two-weekend course. Since then, I have reviewed my storyline, came up with new ideas and even changed some of the characters. None of this productive work would have happened without your support and guidance. I am very grateful for the experience you have allowed us all to have. Cintia Taylor
Back to reality. I had THE best time. I haven’t felt that engaged in anything for a long, long time. I feel as though you’ve saved me about 20 years. As though I’ve been let in on a few small truths; just enough to guide the way and allow me to stay true to myself, fluid in my writing. A breadcrumb trail. Minus the birds. Just, so much fun. Thank you! Sass Clyde
For me , this course was an essential step out of the bubble and into the “real” world of theatre writing – even though I had been a professional actor there is something much more exposing about having your writing come under scrutiny, even the well informed and generous kind offered here. The format, with its practical and challenging writing exercises, in depth discussions and actor feedback is inspired. Aaron Cass
“Whether you’re an experienced writer or complete beginner, this is a course that inspires and galvanises at every level. On the first weekend, Rib and Brian gently enable you to generate imaginative dialogue you didn’t know you had in you. This becomes a scene which, on the second weekend, you see realised by brilliant and insightful actors and directors. Over two days, you have the privilege of watching wonderful proponents of the two complementary arts, directing and acting, teasing out the meaning of your own work, and you understand the collaborativeness of theatre: how actors and directors help you be a better writer. An extraordinarily creative course, a joy to be on – thank you.” Ruth Padel
“Having completed two other reputed screen/playwriting courses this one blew my socks off. The approach, the standard, the pace, the interaction and feedback, not to mention the excellence of actors and acting and finally, the brilliant directing – all far exceeded my expectation. As intensive immersive courses go this one delivers all that it promises. Expect to come away pretty exhausted but with your eyes opened about your writing and potential. You will also be inspired to apply all the tools. A first class performance guys!” Margot Wilson
“It’s one thing to conceptualize something you’d like to explore, quite another to actually have the confidence to get it down on paper. Trusting your instincts enough to ‘write fast and loose’ in Brian’s parlance was incredibly liberating and revelatory. Having skilled actors workshop and rehearse our scripts was also invaluable. The tag team approach of Rib and Brian worked brilliantly and made for a rich dynamic, especially as they didn’t always agree.” Mary Ann Pashigian
“I would just like to say again how grateful I am for all your insight, guidance and generosity. The course was the perfect combination of practical advice and pure inspiration, delivered in such an open and encouraging spirit. I feel equipped with a set of tools with which to develop elements such as characterisation, dialogue and plot, but also a new confidence to move forward with my writing.” George Coupe
“This was such a fantastic course. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Both weekends were challenging and intense, but I came away with so much. It was extremely inspiring.” Cath Comfort
“I enjoyed it on so many fronts – the sheer joy of having a fresh slant on plot and character, your teaching styles and the camaraderie of the rest of the group, the chance to work with actors. I’ve been telling everyone about it.” Katharine McMahon
“Thanks for the course, as a novice I found it very stimulating and changed my attitude towards writing for the theatre (a tough thing to change anyone’s attitude). I learnt enormous amounts and was grateful to Brian and Rib and other course members for their indulgence of my inexperience.” Chris Bird
“The Writing Theatre course is an intensive four days in which you get the opportunity to test your writing skills – have them honed and questioned and then ultimately tested through the mouths and gestures of professional actors. It is exhilarating but can be bruising. If you want a quiet two weekends, then this is not for you. Led by Rib and Brian the whole course is a must for a writer at any stage.” Doc Watson
“This course was the best writing course I have ever done. What marked it out as special were the tutors, Rib and Brian. They are both successful writers but what struck me most about them was their humility. They were not grand in their approach and really attempted to understand what we were trying to achieve in our writing and to advise accordingly. They also sought not to impose rules – something that I have found restricting in the past – but rather to inspire and enable. Of course they gave feedback and voiced opinions throughout and this was hugely useful but they were really positive in their approach. The second weekend was very exciting as our scripts were brought to life by professional actors. Overall, I found the course hugely empowering. I left after four days and actually felt that I could write!” Justin Joseph
“What a wonderful experience. Brian and Rib showed us what a playwright’s toolbox looks like, and then, over the first weekend, skilfully demonstrated how to use each of the tools inside it and encouraged us to experiment ourselves. Two weeks later, we brought back the rudimentary structures we had built, and a team of generous, inspired, professional actors breathed life into our words. There is nothing more thrilling than to hear the words you have written being read by such skilled practitioners. Pure magic! Thank you, Brian and Rib, for being such inspiring teachers. The creative juices are still flowing.” Robin Lustig
“I’ve been on a lot of writing courses, and I used to train adults myself so I’m pretty critical! I wholeheartedly recommend Write Theatre because Brian and Rib combine the qualities which are essential to good teaching.
- They’re modest guys with great skills.They don’t flaunt their own extensive experience and abilities but simply draw on them for the benefit of the participants. The result is an excellent learning experience.
- They are warm and friendly which sets the tone for an easy and productive tutor/learner relationship. And they’re a great double-act.
- They are extremely well prepared and well organized.
- They are respectful of all course participants regardless of background and experience. This helps the group to gell right from the start.
- They manage the tricky but crucial balance of being both encouraging and rigorous; you end up excited that you can improve — but they don’t pretend that it won’t be hard work!
- They bring in actors who are interested in what we’re doing. Seeing my work interpreted by them was really helpful.
- By the end of the fortnight you’ve moved to places you didn’t know were there, let alone could get to!”
“It was great to do the Write Theatre course a second time. The course catalyses and facilitates an individual and collective creative process and so being with a different group of writers meant that I simply went on a different process second time round and it was equally as interesting, valuable and enriching. I had decided to come to the course to work on fresh material and see what came up for me in the tasks – I discovered a host of new characters and the beginnings of a new play which was really exciting. At the same time it was interesting to think about a play I was already working on outside of the course (which grew out of work I did the first time I attended Write Theatre). I kept realising how things Rib and Brian were saying in relation to the writing tasks we were doing in the room might also help me to take a new approach to elements I was struggling with in my play at home. Thank you again for your commitment, insight and generosity of spirit.”
“I cannot recommend this course highly enough. I had expected to like it and learn something (which I did, in abundance). But what surprised me was how changed I felt at the end of it. The whole journey was a powerful one – from those first tentative moments talking about rhythm and dialogue to seeing professional actors breathe life into my words.
Brian and Rib are excellent teachers. They are generous, thoughtful, engaged, and intelligent, and they create a really supportive learning environment. Having never written a line of dialogue for the stage, I am now really inspired to go on and turn the scene I created for the course into something bigger. So a big thanks to both of them for setting me off on this exciting new adventure.”
Caroline Doherty de Novoa
“I wanted to thank you for all your excellent work of the past two weekends, I felt you both taught me a great deal and I can’t thank you enough.”
“This class unlocked my creativity and helped me with a project I’ve been trying to write for a while. I think it’s a great course for beginners as well as people who have a bit more experience. We had such an eclectic group of writers and you can learn a lot from that as well. Working with the actors was especially helpful. I did the second weekend with the actors twice and each time I learned something different; when I saw my work being directed and developed by Rib, Brian and the actors it gave me some insight on how I can write my other scenes. Thank you so much guys!”
“It’s hard to imagine how such a short course (or indeed any length of course) could be more instructive, productive and enriching than this one. As it turns out, writing for theatre is not just about the pen on the paper, it is about writing for the process which is theatre. The complementary skills and strengths of Rib and Brian ensured that I came away from the first weekend with a good grounding in the elements of drama and how to write for them. The second weekend with the actors, after a two week gap of writing and thinking, gave an insight into what actors want from a text and how the writer’s final draft is only the first one for the actor The result for me was a broad and full bodied insight into what it really means to write for the theatre. In all this Rib and Brian are careful to give each member of the group confidence and to see in the writing what is there to be pulled out and developed. Thrilling and energising!”
“I’d looked for a long time for a stage-writing course, as opposed to TV, radio or film. Naturally, I was worried about paying in advance but Rib’s courteous and helpful e-mails reassured me. The course was well-planned and well-taught. The opportunity of having words from your head explored by very good actors was especially useful. The major techniques were covered in a way which made them accessible and inspired us to put them into practice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.”
Jackie Wilkin (Retired University Literature lecturer)
“I would recommend the course for anyone interested in playwriting. It was engaging, thought-provoking and fun.”
“The word thank you, in a text-driven society, can only take one so far in expressing sincere appreciation for the immense task you, (Rib and Brian) and the actors accomplished over the course of the workshop. There’s no doubt in my mind, that if you’re willing and open to fully exploring as well as questioning why you write and how your writing can “work” on stage, that’s a key lesson. You won’t leave this workshop empty-handed.”
Vanessa Lee Miller
“Thank you Brian and Rib. Your course has given me a new lease of life. I needed to refind my hunger for theatre-making and I have discovered it again in writing. You are so generous with your wisdom, insight, time and enthusiasm. This course was just what I needed to get me started, to face my fears and actually get some words on the page… and then to remain intrigued enough in what I was developing and the characters that were emerging to keep going. I loved that we delved straight in and discovered people, worlds and stories through dialogue. I found the experience with the group to be a brilliantly structured to allow the creative process to happen – from the first weekend when we just had to respond and write and share, through the two weeks at home striving to write a ten minute extract of a play (that emerged out of work done on the first weekend, at least for me), to the second weekend, the various different ways we explored our texts with the actors, and the changes we made to our scripts. As always with theatre-making, I was reminded that I had to trust the rhythm of the process and see what emerges! Your course is intense and rich and also full of space to allow that learning to fall into place….inside the studio space and outside, on the train home or at ten o’clock at night when I just had to rewrite my scenes ready for the next morning because I understood the implications of what the workshopping had revealed and needed to try to resolve the problems…. I was very sad when the course came to an end but I am also very eager to keep developing and exploring the play I have started. Thank you so much.”
“I have just attended this excellent course ran by Write Theatre. I am buzzing with ideas about…how I can ‘reveal’ my characters…what ‘devices’ I can use to do this…how I am going to ‘raise their stakes’…. Brian and Rib, playwrights themselves, led the group with knowledge and professionalism. On the second weekend skilled actors, Sarah, David and Jack, acted our writing with enthusiasm and generosity. Their input and ideas much appreciated. I felt indulged there was so much thought and encouragement given to my writing. This course is highly recommended.”
“The course was fantastic! The writing exercises encouraged us to create scenarios, dialogue and characters in new and interesting ways. Brian and Rib offer great insight and constructive criticism. My favourite part was working with the actors. It was great to see the class’s work develop and we enjoyed a camaraderie that allowed us to experiment and take risks. I look forward to taking more courses with Write Theatre in the future.”
“That was truly inspirational. I came thinking, can I write a decent play and left thinking watch this space. Wow what a difference you guys made, I arrived trapped in a plot driven hole that I had dug myself and left released not really knowing where the characters in this new play are going, but thanks to you they are alive and going somewhere.”
” 1) WRITE Theatre might not be cheap – but it’s excellent value for money.
2) I loved your teaching style. As you know, it’s not easy as a writer putting yourself ‘out there’ and sharing writing with others. You created a learning environment that offered a safe place to share, explore and take chances. You gave us guidance and support, insight and generosity of knowledge and spirit, encouraging us in a constructive, helpful way.
3) You provided a solid, professional framework for the course and a series of exercises that proved perfect for expedient learning by doing. I feel like I’ve achieved 6 months worth of information and experience in just 4 days. I’m sad it’s all over.
4) The opportunity to have our work read, workshopped and performed by such quality actors was an absolute thrill. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve done ever and they were so wonderful to work and experiment with.
5) It was great to learn with a group of people who shared my goals and my passion for writing and who were as vulnerable as I was and we were all brave together. I’ve learnt to problem-solve, overcome, analyse and appraise my own work which is invaluable.
Thank you for an incredibly enriching, absorbing, challenging, intense and wonderful experience.”
Lara Cetinich Cory
“Absolutely thrilling to see my work performed for the first time by professional actors. Solid, executable advice which I could immediately use to improve my script. Hard work; great fun; transformational; how magic happens. This is the writing community I’ve been searching for.”
“Want to become a successful playwright, then Write Theatre at the Cockpit is the place for you. I found the whole course immensely rewarding. Having professional actors work on one of my scenes moved me to tears. The course is led by Brian Woolland and Rib Davis, great teachers and highly regarded playwrights. Value for money and a really great course! “
Just wanted to say how creative and unpredictably enjoyable the course was. One can read books for information on structure and other such technical matters of plays, but I could never have learned about how certain lines work in a dialogue whereas other don’t. Or how saying the opposite of what the character wants increase credibility. I learned how I not only must go behind but in fact love every character no matter how nasty he or she might be.
A lot of the learning happened through a great combination of thorough writing exercises, but the course never became a dry nor a too difficult experience, I thank Rib and Brian especially for this. They are simply so generous with their experiences, yet so playful about the art of writing which made it two of the most inspiring weekends of work and play I could possibly have wished for. I gained a lot of insights both about my self and about my writing. Thank you!!!
To see real actors play a scene of my writing was a mind blasting experience. Acting out a play never lies, but gives a very honest critique of your own writing, which I found hugely inspiring. The climate was very warm and very intelligent, to me a completely new environment.
“Rib and Brian, two experienced practising playwrights, gave us the tools that they themselves use. From writing dialogue, creating visual impact, and turning scenes to create dramatic tension, these are tools that will stay with me forever. Having world-class actors to work with brought everything we had learned in class brilliantly to life. If you have any interest in writing for theatre then this is the real deal”.
“It took a while to sink in just how visionary a concept your first ‘Write Theatre’ course (Nov 2013) actually was. Selecting and ordering a series of tried and tested writing exercises known to support yourselves into creativity, framing these as a 4 day intensive page-to-stage process with total and relative newcomers in order that we could experience for ourselves how the exploration of a scene between writer, director and actors really works. What a rare treat”.
“WRITE Theatre provides a warm, supportive, and inspirational framework in which to explore a fresh and invigorating approach to creating vibrant drama. The focus on discovering character as a key driver to the organic development of a play has been invaluable to my own work, and the opportunity to test ideas in collaboration with actors in a workshop ‘lab’ has enriched me with enormous insights, not only into the process of developing drama, but also the limitless vitality and potential of theatre. The course is essential for anyone seeking to learn the craft, the art, and the delight of exploring the path from initial creative impulse to a living stage performance”.
“‘I could not have hoped for a more stimulating and incredibly useful theatre writing course. It was challenging as Brian and Rib are experts in getting the best out of you but it’s accessible for writers of all levels of experience and so much fun! The mixture of practical work and classroom discussion was impeccably judged, with the emphasis on us actually writing our own pieces that led to all of us making huge strides over the the four days. Working with the professional actors was an invaluable experience and their input to help us shape our work proved just how essential a component of writing this is i.e. seeing your writing performed. The fact that Write Theatre gives us this access to amazing actors makes it stand head and shoulders above all other theatre writing course I’ve looked into. Brian and Rib are inspirational and I cannot wait until the next course in Summer 2014′”.
“This is the first time I have attended a course on play writing, although I have experience of working in drama in education as a teacher in a range of schools. The weekend has given me so much in terms of building my confidence as a writer. I loved the organic way it developed and the way that both tutors provided individual support and guidance, but always showed incredible respect for the voice of the writer. Even though I was with a group who were for the most part far more experienced than myself (as a beginning writer) and many had successfully completed an MA course with both tutors, I was never made to feel inadequate. To witness their work was such a great inspiration and teaching tool for my own writing. The tutors were sensitive to our individual needs but also very challenging in terms of their high expectations and were able to model through the way they critiqued participants’ writing, their own very high and professional quality as writers themselves. The course was collaborative in nature where we were able to learn from one another and it was great to experience this within the context of an actual theatre, which provided status to our work. This course was unique in many ways and the added element of this was the inclusion of very gifted and intelligent actors (from the RSC) who did far more than simply perform our scripted pieces. They provided insightful feedback, challenging questioning and were keen to experiment with different angles offered by the group, the individual writer and themselves. I found this incredibly exciting and rich. Thank you very much for a fantastic (but challenging) weekend”.
“An inspirational course for anyone with ambitions to write for the theatre. Rib and Brian draw on all their vast experience as writers and directors to de-mystify the art of playwriting. Their intensive course is instructive without being prescriptive, and encourages aspiring playwrights to explore their own ideas through an understanding of the process of writing for the stage. This is very much a practical course, with a series of writing exercises culminating in two days of workshops, with scripts being performed by professional actors. This is an invaluable opportunity to be guided through the creative process, and hear your work come to life in the rehearsal room”.