FAQ – Fresh Ink: Hull Playwriting Festival

What is Fresh Ink?

It’s a new festival designed to support writers with a connection to Hull to create and develop new plays in the city. Inspired by “scratch” theatre nights, the focus will be on performing early versions of new ideas to audiences and gathering their feedback to support the next stage of its development. This first festival in 2024 will be a pilot, so Middle Child can learn what works best and improve on it for the following years.

What does “scratch” mean?

A scratch performance is a rough and ready sharing of a piece of work that is still in-development. Scratches are often performed script-in-hand, after only a few days of rehearsals, with little to no set design, costumes, props or music. They are a valuable way for theatre makers to experiment with a piece of work, see how an audience responds and learn how they might develop a play further. Middle Child have run a successful scratch programme called Out Loud, in partnership with Silent Uproar.

What does “a connection to the city of Hull” mean?

This festival is designed to support grassroots development of new work in Hull. However, we do not want to restrict eligible applicants to postcodes, as we recognise that being from a place is more complicated than that. When we ask this question, we want to understand why it makes sense for your work to be programmed by a festival with a specific Hull-focus. That may be because you grew up here, because you lived here, or for a number of other reasons. We want to be inclusive of different experiences, so just let us know a bit more about your relationship to Hull.

Does it need to be a piece of gig theatre?

No. The idea you would like to develop does not need to be in the usual Middle Child “style”.

Do I need to submit a script to apply?

We would like to see an example of your writing work, but you do not have to submit the actual script you would like to develop at this stage.

How many times can I apply for a commission?

Once per year. Writers are limited to applying with just the one idea.

Can I apply for multiple commissions?

No, you can only apply for one of the commissions. The festival selection panel may consider you for a different one if they feel that it’s more suitable.

Will you accept screen and radio scripts?

No, the work needs to be expressly for theatre.

Can co-writers/teams submit work?

Yes, but please be aware the commission fee is per piece of work, not per writer. You would also only need to submit a single application, together.

Will I hear back or receive feedback even if I’m not selected?

We will contact all applicants to let them know if they have been successful or not and the reasons for those decisions. Since we will only be reading a small sample of your work, we will not be offering individual feedback, as we don’t feel like we could offer meaningful support in this way. However, we will follow-up with other ways for applicants to discuss their work with us. This will include an invitation to a writer’s open evening at our Theatre Library on Thursday 7 March, where applicants will get the chance to meet other writers as well as Middle Child’s artistic director and literary manager.

Can I have submitted my work elsewhere?

Yes, you may have submitted your idea elsewhere, as long as it has not been produced.

Can I control who directs/performs my work if my submission is chosen?

All of the plays will be performed by a company of actors selected for the festival. This company will be selected with the casting requirements of each play in mind, and writer’s input into those requirements will be encouraged. The pieces will be directed by Middle Child’s artistic director and/or other professional local directors, however writers will be invited to attend rehearsals as well. Writers can also suggest other people or companies to work on the scratch sharing at the festival but must do so when applying.

Will Middle Child go on to produce every play that is shared at the festival?

No. While we would love to commit to a full production of each script chosen for the festival, the reality is that we are only able to produce one new play per year. Our full commissions are decided annually and usually 18-24 months in advance of any full production. However, ideas encountered at the festival will be considered by us in this process. Middle Child’s promise to all writers involved is that we will be transparent and clear at all stages of working together and we will give a final decision on whether we will produce the play as early as possible. Beyond that, we will do everything we can to help you find a partner to ensure the play has a future life beyond the festival.

What if I don’t want Middle Child to go on to produce my play?

No problem. First and foremost, our aim is to support an eclectic mix of writers and ideas, so we’re not going to force anyone into a long-term partnership beyond the festival that doesn’t best serve the play. Writers will retain the rights to their work and may choose not to produce the play with Middle Child. If they were to produce with another company, Middle Child would require a credit for first developing the piece, and a formal conversation about the transference of rights would take place.

Do you accept plays for all ages?

Yes. Children’s theatre, family-friendly work and plays with adult themes or language will all be considered.

Do you accept musicals?

No. The focus of this festival is on new writing. While the form of submissions may vary, the festival doesn’t have the capacity or resource to produce plays requiring musical elements in their early stages of development.

Does this play need to be for Middle Child?

No. If you have seen our work before and are worried that you write in a different style or for a different audience, don’t be. Middle Child are hosting this festival, but the work does not have to be in a Middle Child “style”, nor will it necessarily become a Middle Child production. Each writer will take part in transparent and open conversations with Middle Child about their ambitions for the work and will be supported to work towards a full production, where appropriate.

What other opportunities do Middle Child offer to writers?

Our Writer’s Group, Book Club and 1:1 Script Support sessions are also available, alongside our free-to-use writing room and theatre library, which contains over 2,000 plays and theatre texts free-to-borrow. See the development page on our website for more information about each of these opportunities.

What will you do with unsuccessful ideas/intellectual property?

Middle Child will not retain the rights to any ideas submitted for consideration for the festival beyond those we commission. Unsuccessful applications will be deleted from our server once the commissions have been agreed, however we may add your personal contact details to our writer/artist database, so that we may contact you in the future. See below.

How will you use my data?

Personal data, including your name and contact details, collected through the application process will be moved to our secure SharePoint server. We may choose to store it indefinitely on our writer/artist database out of legitimate interest, so that we may contact you in the future about other opportunities with Middle Child.

This personal data will not be shared with third parties. You have the right to request access to your personal data at any time and can ask to be removed from the database. Any answers given in the equal opportunities form will not be used to make a decision about the inclusion of your idea in the programme. See also our privacy policy.

Will the festival be accessible?

Middle Child are committed to making theatre employment accessible and selected writers will be able to submit an access rider detailing any access requirements. We are still planning how the wider festival will be made accessible and will be able to share details in early 2024.

I’m an actor, director, designer, stage manager or other theatre maker – how can I get involved?

A key aim for the festival is to employ Hull-based theatre makers as much as possible, in-line with our mission to make Hull a viable place to live and work in theatre. This includes assembling a company of actors, for which a casting call will go out in March next year. If you are interested in working with us in another capacity we always welcome introductions, so please contact senior producer, Sarah.

I’d like to support the festival. How can I get in touch?

Middle Child are a charity and all of our work is made possible through generous donations, sponsorships and funding partners. If you’d like to support our mission to ensure that anyone’s story can be told and heard, why not join our pay what you can supporters’ scheme, Middle Child Mates?

If you’re a business, charitable trust or other organisation or individual that would like to discuss sponsorship, please contact senior producer, Sarah.

Fresh Ink: Hull Playwriting Festival Founding Partners
Fresh Ink: Hull Playwriting Festival is supported by:
Middle Child are supported by: