Write the Girl

'Of Silent Words', written by two students in Lower Sixth as part of '...the girl writes' initiative

what is it?

Write the Girl is a partnership between schools and theatre professionals to support playwrights in developing the meaningful stories our young women deserve. A school can select a play proposal from our Write the Girl playback, commission the playwright to write that play for their particular students and embark on the most enriching, creative and collaborative journey from pen to stage. Thus those meaningful stories, suitable for large casts, that stretch, challenge and engage a generation of young women often marginalised by a male-dominated canon, can take their place on the main stage.

Why are we doing this?

As secondary schools seeking rewarding artistic experiences for our students, we are beholden on the industry to produce new work with large casts which we can then produce. Furthermore, we need plays which allow at least equal opportunities for young women, featuring narratives in which women do more than “watch and weep” while the men drive the action forward. Given the shortage of such plays, we are using independent sector resources to kick-start the creation of a set of new works, under the project title “Write the Girl”. The project is designed to provide writers with a service: the workshopping of their developing ideas, and constructive feedback on their proposals. Whilst some might receive a full production in a school setting, the ultimate aim is to get these plays out into full public view, in professional theatre settings. We also hope to use extracts from the plays for GCSE and A Level performances, if the plays can be published.

Logo of Pen and Write the Girl

 

 

Write the Girl Event - 7th December 2023

Thank you to the schools and playwrights who joined us for our collaboration event.

LEH Drama Department hosted an inspiring afternoon of collaboration between schools and playwrights with the goal of commissioning original plays on 7th December. The event included bespoke workshops and Q&A sessions to provide advice and guidance on how the process can benefit schools. It was wonderful to see such energy and enthusiasm from everyone involved as they discussed ideas and worked on bringing the playwright's scripts to life with voice and movement. Seeing the passion shared for this initiative on the day will hopefully lead to new collaborations in the future. The LEH Drama department were also thrilled that a number of the schools and playwrights were able to join us for the final night of our latest Write the Girl production, Team by Beattie Green, in the evening, giving them the opportunity to see the realisation of commissioning a play through the initiative. 

Watch the video to see more action from the day. 

Such an inspiring day. I loved the moments I had of students putting movement to the Fire song.

Helen - Playwright

It was such a thought-provoking event. 

Claire - Director of Drama

how to get involved

Whether you are a school who is interested in commissioning a playwright or a playwright interested in submitting a proposal outlining your vision for a full scale production, please complete the form below with details and a member of the LEH Drama Department will be in touch. 

What are the benefits of the Write The Girl Initiative?

Watch the video below to hear from LEH School's Director of Drama, LEH students, Playwright Lucy Foster and the Head of Drama at St Albans High School for Girls about why you should get involved in the Write the Girl initiative.

the stories told so far...

'TEAM' by Beattie Green - December 2023

Write the Girl has been a wonderful initiative, which has produced numerous empowering and entertaining scripts for female students with a passion for theatre, much like this one. 

Harriet - L6 student at LEH

‘Team’ is a play about women’s football away from the zoo: no lionesses, no caged animals, no hungry punters. This is the wild grassroots, all played out in a muddy field somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Without flashing lights, without stadiums, without online forums dissecting the relative weaknesses of “the women’s game”, as if it were a different game, a different ballpark.  

Beattie Green is a young playwright whose work has been performed at the National Theatre (after winning the New Views competition at age 17) and the Corpus Playroom in Cambridge, as well as read at the Royal Court Upstairs, Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Hope Theatre. Interested in miscommunication and how language both makes and destroys us, Beattie’s work focuses especially on telling stories about women and queer people without tokenism.

Team was performed by a cast of students from both LEH School and our local partner, Hampton High, a maintained school.

'Lady Malcolm's Ball' by Freddie Machin - May 2023

The second Write the Girl play commissioned by LEH, Lady Malcolm's Ball written by Freddie Machin, was already cast and had started rehearsals when the pandemic interrupted our plans for the L5 play. Lady Malcolm's Ball finally hit the stage in May 2023 at LEH with students from both LEH and neighbouring school Hampton High performing.

Lady Malcom's Ball is based on the true story of Lady Malcolm and is a bold and hilarious exploration of rebellion; rebelling against class, gender, family and societal expectations. "In a bid to become the most charitable woman in society," Freddie explains, "Lady Malcolm throws a ball for all the servants in London. It becomes so popular that in the early 1930s it moves to the Royal Albert Hall, attracting celebrity guests and huge media attention. But it also attracts subversion and transgression. Lady Malcolm doesn't invite cross dressers, and drag queens, but they come, and leave a social revolution in their wake."

'betsey' by Lucy Foster - December 2021

LEH Drama's production of 'Betsey', written by Lucy Foster as part of the 'Write the Girl' initiative premiered in December 2021. 

Hamilton has been one of the biggest cultural sensations of the past decade. It’s a brilliant and highly innovative production in terms of diversity, ambition, and by being openly pro-immigration. However, the one thing Lucy Foster thought when she left the show is how briefly at the end we hear about how Elizabeth Schuyler, Hamilton’s wife “Eliza”, lived for another 50 years and did a number of incredible things. Suddenly Lucy wanted to hear about her and it’s exactly this footnote in a man’s story that Lucy wanted to bring to the forefront of this production.

'Wellington 24' by Rachel Harper - February 2020

"At a time full of so much political uncertainty and unrest, I wanted to revisit an era that was caught in the full effects of war - and I wanted to shine a little light on the stories we don’t get to see. World War Two was a huge catalyst for women in the workplace, and these women, whether fighting for their country or fighting for their own right to work or simply looking for something to do - all played their part. I wanted to write this play in particular to raise the question of contributing to a war and the consequences of individual choices. I don’t know the right answers, but these are questions that shouldn’t be ignored."

Rachel Harper - Playwright, Wellington 24

LEH Drama Department presents the first production from the 'Write the Girl' Initiative 'Wellington 24'

Wellington 24

We are excited to announce that our first Write the Girl play, Wellington 24, written and performed in 2020 has been published with Nick Hern Books as part of their multiplay online series, so it is now available for schools and theatre groups to create their own production of this play written for a large, all female, ensemble cast. 

Playwright Rachel Harper has gone on to write an original comedy for BBC Wales, has several comedy dramas commissioned to pilot with various independents, and has written many episodes of the BBC medical drama Casualty. 

Write the Girl Commissions outside of LEH School...

It has always been our hope that the initiative expands to other schools. STAHS was the first to embrace Write the Girl and commission a play. Having seen great success with their first play 'Milady', they have now commissioned their third play in as many years!

'Milady' by Beth Flintoff at St Albans High School - January 2022

St Albans High School for Girls were the first school to grasp the Write the Girl initiative with both hands, commissioning Beth Flintoff (The Glove Thief) to write Milady. "After meeting with the Head of Drama, having lots of conversations on the phone about how we want to work together, and discussing the sort of story we want to tell," said Beth "I started researching in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Then I met the students in October and we did a workshop on some of the ideas. It was really helpful to see them in action and I've been keeping them in mind as I write. It was particularly useful to see how very able they are as actresses so I can be really ambitious with my characters and the story."

 

Milady has been a very exciting project from the outset. To bring a play into the world and be the first to bring the characters and action alive for an audience is a very special experience.

Holly Whymark, Director of Drama at St Albans High School for Girls

In further news, after performing Milady in the National Drama Festival, it was nominated for the National Drama Festivals Association Derek Jacobi award for new writing. STAHS will hear later in the year how they got on. 

'The Flood' by Lucy Foster at St Albans High School - March 2023

After the success of commissioning their first play 'Milady', STAHS jumped in with both feet for their second script, 'The Flood' working with playwright, Lucy Foster. 

At the heart of The Flood is the story of a group of Sixth Form students who are brought together through a podcast and unearth pressing climate and sustainability issues in their own town. The play explores the feeling of being on the precipice as a teenager with exciting opportunities ahead but also the fear of reaching them. It also considers being condemned to the choices of our parents and those in authority such as local governments. 

Director of Drama at STAHS, Holly Whymark, has so much enthusiasm for the Write the Girl initiative because, as she has discovered, commissioning a new play provides students with a fantastic opportunity to workshop initial ideas and feed back to the playwright on different drafts as it takes shape. 

...the girl writes

...the girl writes is the next phase in our Write the Girl initiative. As well as wanting to have more work produced for our students to perform, we are keen to give them an opportunity to purse the creation of such work themselves. ...the girl writes is a mentorship scheme which partners students with writers involved in Write the Girl.

OF SILENT WORDS BY DIYA SENGUPTA AND AMY BRIAN - June 2021

Performance of 'Of Silent Words' written by two LEH students who were mentored as part of the '...the girl writes' initiative during Spring 2021 lockdown.

Of Silent Words

Of Silent Words

Of Silent Words

In June the L6 playwrights, Diya Sengupta and Amy Brian presented their first play ‘Of Silent Words’ to their peers in the Jane Ross Theatre. This was a rare opportunity for students to stage a play in our lovely theatre and we were so impressed not only by the girls’ writing, but by the way they had directed a cast of their peers to tell an important story about the survival of children during a siege. The event was preceded by a Q&A, in which the directors Diya and Amy spoke about their journey from initial playwriting workshops run by professional playwrights back in the Spring of 2020; to being mentored by one of the playwrights – theirs was Rachel Harper who wrote ‘Wellington 24’; to the 15 minute showcase in September 2020 and finally the full-length production. And what a fantastic performance they gave! The L6 cast worked magnificently together on stage to do Amy and Diya proud. The crew led by Amara also did a very professional job backstage. After the show the cast and crew enjoyed a scrummy picnic-style lunch to celebrate our first …the girl writes project. It really was a euphoric way to end our terrific Drama programme this year (which I think I would like to name ‘Against All Odds!’). I am so proud of everyone involved, especially our Technical Theatre team, who turned around two productions in a week (again!).

By Ms Bedford - Director of Drama

Diya Sengupta and Amy Brian's play 'Of Silent Words' went on to be one of 30 plays shortlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize for Playwriting

the future

We are hugely excited about the future of Write the Girl and ...the girl writes. We will continue producing Write the Girl plays as our School Play each year and encouraging other schools to do the same. With ...the girl writes we hope to be creating the next generation of great writers who will produce work which will offer more opportunities to those who have typically been underrepresented in the theatre world. We are also working on a ...the girl directs programme in response to a keen interest from our students, allowing them to work with more theatre professionals in this capacity.  In that way, not only will Write the Girl have succeeded in producing more dynamic work for our young women, but it will have also empower them to write and direct their own. 

how to get involved with Write the Girl

Whether you are a school who is interested in commissioning a playwright or a playwright interested in submitting a proposal outlining your vision for a full scale production, please complete the form below with details and a member of the LEH Drama Department will be in touch. 

leh school is committed to the highest standards of Child Protection and Safeguarding. Applicants progressing to the commissioning process will undergo Enhanced DBS clearance.

Drama at LEH