Sphinx 30

In 2020 Sphinx Theatre Company announced Sphinx 30, a year-long programme celebrating Sphinx Theatre’s 30th anniversary. Sphinx 30 was launched with the pilot of Sphinx Lab, a brand new writers’ development programme for female playwrights and concluded with a series of showcase events as a celebration of 30 years of Sphinx Theatre. Writers were selected via an Open Call and also via partnerships with theatres – partners on Sphinx 30 are 15 of the UK’s leading theatres and theatre companies, including:

The Bush Theatre, Derby Theatre, Graeae Theatre Company, Hull Truck Theatre, Kali Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Nottingham Playhouse, Octagon Theatre, Red Ladder, Salisbury Playhouse, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Theatr Clwyd, Watford Palace Theatre and New Earth.

These theatres co-funded 15 female playwrights.

The landmark Sphinx 30 programme is supporting female playwrights selected via an open call, designed to ensure all talent across the UK is reached and that writers at all stages of their careers are included, which will be fully funded by Sphinx with Arts Council England support.

Sphinx Lab

Each selected Sphinx 30 playwright has taken part in the Sphinx Lab, a pilot writers’ programme for female playwrights which has been designed by Sphinx Theatre Literary Director, Jennifer Tuckett, inspired by her work at Yale School of Drama, one of the world’s leading playwriting programmes, and by the WP (Women’s Project) Lab in New York.

The Lab is also informed by Sphinx’s recent year long research project and the Women Centre Stage Forum which was run in partnership with The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Equity, ERA 50:50, University Women in the Arts, Stage Directors UK, Black Womxn in Theatre, The Stage, the December Group and Trafalgar Studios.

The Sphinx Lab offers advice from leading female playwrights, advice from the industry, craft and business skills, and a chance to write a play and receive guidance on your work, with the aim to equip female playwrights with information, skills and dramaturgy on their work to support their careers.

Playwrights will receive a £1000 seed commission to write the new play, written for the main stage, as part of Sphinx’s 30th anniversary, with the opportunity for the play to be showcased and published, showcasing some of the best female playwriting talent in the UK as part of the anniversary, and with the opportunity to apply for further development at the end of the year.

The WP Lab in New York has been described as

a beacon of hope for women writers and directors. This theater gave me a community in which to thrive when I was an emerging playwright, and more recently, a home in which to experiment. I celebrate its past and look forward to its future!” (Sarah Ruhl, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and playwriting lecturer at Yale School of Drama)

The 2021 Lab was taught by some of the UK’s leading female playwrights including April De Angelis whose plays include Playhouse Creatures, commissioned and first produced by Sphinx Theatre, Winsome Pinnock, author of seminal work Leave Taking and the first black female playwright to be produced at The National Theatre, and Timberlake Wertenbaker, whose credits include modern classic Our Country’s Good. Other tutors on the Lab include Dame Rosemary Squire, co-founder of the Ambassador Theatre Group and Trafalgar Entertainment, Stephanie Sirr, Chief Executive at Nottingham Playhouse, Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre and Dance at the Barbican Centre, Brigid Larmour, Artistic Director of Watford Palace Theatre, and Sphinx Theatre’s Artistic Director Sue Parrish, and Literary Director Jennifer Tuckett, who has designed and run creative writing programmes for the BBC amongst other organisations .

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