The Royal Exchange Theatre and its Local exchange Ambassador Group in Leigh are delighted to announce that the LocalTALE Playwriting Competition is back and now open for entries.

Launched last year, the competition is open to those who live in or have a connection to Leigh, Atherton or Tyldesley. Applicants are invited to submit an original 10 – 30-minute play inspired by the question ‘How was 2020 for you?’ (see attached word cloud) to be in with the chance of having their work produced and performed in the Exchange’s mobile theatre (THE DEN) at Spinners Mill in the summer of 2021. The deadline for submissions is Monday 12th April 2021.

Those with a passion to tell stories are encouraged to enter the competition regardless of their writing experience. And for anyone who thinks they do need some guidance or support with playwrighting, a free resource pack has been developed by the Royal Exchange and is available online. In addition to this, the Royal Exchange theatre’s award-winning Dramaturg Suzanne Bell will be running two free workshops over Zoom on Monday 22 February 6pm – 8pm and Saturday 27 February 2pm – 4pm to support entrants in making their play as good as it can be.

The winning plays will be staged in the Den alongside those by last year’s winners their work unfortunately could not be premiered due to the pandemic. However, extracts of their plays have been featured on the Leigh LOCAL EXCHANGE Ambassadors’ podcast Connecting Tales: A Podcast which was created and produced by the Ambassadors during lockdown to celebrate and showcase the people, cultural life, and creative opportunities available in Leigh, Tyldesley and Atherton; the extracts were performed by members of the Royal Exchange Theatre’s Young Company, Elders Company and Leigh Ambassadors and were directed by Maria Zemlinskaya, Birkbeck Assistant Director for the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Alison Ormrod, a winner of the 2020 LocalTALE competition was interviewed on the podcast said of the importance of the prize…

‘There’s no doubt in small towns like Leigh that they are full of talented and creative people who maybe wouldn’t get the opportunity or don’t have the confidence or don’t know where to go – you write something, where do you take it? How do you apply it? And its most important that local people are given more opportunity to experience and to see theatre because it’s not always that accessible – it’s not always affordable. And especially in the current climate where creative industries are struggling because of lockdown, it’s possibly more important than ever to develop these small local pockets of theatre for people to enjoy and be able to support and be part of that bigger industry.’

The scheme is a long-term, integrated programme that sees the Royal Exchange Theatre create work with, for and in Greater Manchester communities during a series of residencies. This continually evolving project has been developed to form and build upon long-lasting relationships with communities and artists across the region.

Each bespoke residency lasts for at least three years and starts by developing relationships with the local partners such as Councils, Housing Associations and Arts Organisations. It is tailored to support the cultural ambitions of each community with the help of local ambassador groups that work closely with the Exchange throughout the residency.

A key part of the Local Exchange programme is the Den, the Royal Exchange’s new pop-up theatre. The Den will be assembled and run by theatre staff and community members in an existing building within the borough and serves as a dynamic space for residents to make, participate in and see work that they want.


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