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Square Peg Scripts is an exciting new playwriting opportunity for neurodivergent writers.

Since November 2018, six neurodivergent participants have attended a series of playwriting workshops and each worked on an original short play with one-to-one mentoring by established playwrights.

On Saturday 27th April, extracts of the six scripts-in-development will be presented as rehearsed readings at Autism Arts Festival - and we'd love it if you could join us!

Mainspring Arts Playwrights' Showcase at Autism Arts Festival
Date: 27th April
Time: 11:45am
Venue: Aphra Theatre, University of Kent campus, Canterbury

The showcase will be directed by neurodivergent director Sam Holley-Horseman, and performed by an all-neurodivergent cast. It is not only an opportunity to share the wonderful work our participants have produced, but it will also be a valuable part of the script development process for our writers, who will have a chance to redraft after seeing their work performed.

Autism Arts Festival will take place from 26th-28th April at the University of Kent campus, Canterbury. Our performance will be on 27th April at 11.45am in the Aphra Theatre. Please come along, tell your friends and family and help us spread the word on social media!

The Plays

Bear Mask by Cameron A. Straughan

For as long as he can remember, David has worn a bear mask. Tired of his antics, his parents and his best friend stage an intervention. Full of self doubt, shaken by questionable counselling, about to leave his old self behind, he suddenly comes face to face with an unlikely challenge - a doppelganger who has achieved the success that has eluded him all his life. 

Bio: Cameron A. Straughan is a Canadian writer, photographer, filmmaker, and teacher. He was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (Asperger Syndrome Profile) in May 2017. The diagnosis, after decades of not knowing why he was ‘different’ and didn't seem to fit in, was a mainly positive experience which he is still adapting to. On the positive side, his autism has gifted him with a vivid imagination, unique perspectives, distinctive sense of humour and an absurd view of life, which he freely expresses in his writing.

www.cameronstraughan.com

 No Juice by Jae Erwin

No Juice is about a woman whose body and mind are at war over the inevitable changes of menopause.

Bio: Jae, late-diagnosed ASD1 at 55, teaches yoga and writes to explore and communicate the inside experience of autism that others see on the outside, and women's lives as they age.

 Twitter: @JaeErwin5 www.insideoutsideautism.blog

Vinnie by Jae Scott

It's a dog's life. Especially when you live on the street with your best mate and the only distraction is a black cab driver called Pat you're not sure you should trust. Meet Vinnie and Sam (c/o The Railway Arches) as they take on the harsh reality of rough sleeping with only each other for company.

Bio: Fifteen cups of tea later, I stare back at the blank page where my short play ought to be. The only winner – an enthusiastic dental hygienist who always welcomes my nervous, tannin-stained smile. Over the years, Camellia sinensis has fuelled many of my writings: short plays, films and stories; prose; limericks and poems. Suddenly, inspiration hits! My fingers hammer away at the keyboard for two solid hours. I stop, reach for the last mouthful of cold char and lean back satisfied, beaming proudly at my work. Done. One title page, ‘Vinnie by Jae Scott’. Well, it’s a start isn’t it?

Twitter: @AnEndInItself

Blud Blood by Ian Hinde

Blud Blood focuses on what happens in the body in the heat of the moment; what if there's a disagreement between the different body parts over what action to take; and what does it mean to be a victim or a perpetrator?

Bio: Ian lives in a remote area with few opportunities for aspiring writers, so he likes to explore every possible avenue to learn a little more. He’s interested in what motivates us as humans and offering his version of thoughts about those aspects that capture his attention, where possible in ways that play with form and presentation techniques.

Crunching Chalk by Zoe Vail

It's the day of Alan's funeral and it's brought his daughters, Rachel and Helen, together for the first time in years. It’s not clear if Valerie's noticed Alan's absence yet but when Andy, Rachel's new partner, drops by the past intrudes in a bloom of unexpected memories.

Bio: An avid bookworm possessed of an overactive imagination, Zoe has always wanted to write and is delighted to be included in the line up today. Day to day Zoe teaches English and raises her two children. Passionate about the beauty of words, Zoe would happily be Susie Dent's apprentice - however, she's worked out that her anxiety can be channelled into creating characters in order to explore the stuff none of us really want to admit to or say. Zoe would like to stress that this play isn't autobiographical and that her Dad is great!

Twitter: @ZedVeeEss

Interpretations by Krystina Nellis

Liz and Ben are trying to navigate love and modern relationships. But how can they do that when one of them doesn't understand how real life relationships work outside of the movies?

Bio: Krystina is a writer and performer based in London. In addition to Square Peg Scripts, she is currently on the Soho Theatre Writer's Lab where she is developing Glitch, her debut full-length show, and can occasionally be found performing improv and sketch comedy around London. She graduated from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama's MA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media in 2017 where she developed her pilot TV script 'Access All Areas', about the shambolic East London music scene.

The Director

Sam Holley-Horseman

Sam is a re-emerging neurodivergent director and writer, having trained at Rose Bruford. She has just completed a Ramps on the Moon Director’s Residency at Birmingham REP, with an R&D of Constellations by Nick Payne at The DOOR. Her more recent work includes a writing commission for Big Brum, The Straw Baby, which toured primary schools.

She wrote and directed SE(E)N about the SEND crisis, which was performed at the PDA Conference in Birmingham and Bedlam Fest at The REP. Her latest project WISH is in development and explores female autism. She is interested in directing new writing, diverse new voices, re-examining the classics in a modern neurodivergent context and looking at diversifying theatre through new working methods.

The Cast

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Libby Mai

Libby, aged 22, took up her place at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in October last year, to study BA Acting. During her first months at drama school she was identified as dyslexic and dyspraxic, and has ADD. She is proud to be neurodiverse and is very excited to create work from her identified abilities. She is due to graduate from Central in 2021, and feels fortunate to be involved in a festival celebrating the neurodiverse community whilst studying.

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Joanna Swan

Joanna's theatre credits include her ‘captivating’ one woman show Margery Kempe of Lynn (Room at the Hanse), leading roles in the darkly comic The Poisoner's Pact (Stuff of Dreams Theatre Co) and biographical drama Etty: The Girl Who Learnt to Kneel (Life, Love and Death Co), and playing Nanny Butler and Saul Baddun in a tour of The Hundred and One Dalmatians (Baroque Theatre Co). TV credits include BBC1's Doctors. She was one of 32 actors with disabilities chosen to participate in 2017's BBC Class Act Showcase, and is represented by Lousie Dyson at VisABLE agency.

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Emma Miriam Berentsen

Emma is a London-based performance artist from the Netherlands. Most of her work is autobiographical. She is interested in working on the edge of non-fiction and fiction and tries to build a connection between art, artist and audience. She uses conversation as a performative tool to talk about subjects we normally avoid, such as mental health, death, mortality and sexual violence. She has presented work at venues including Venice Biennale; ACT Festival, Bilbao; ArtsAdmin, London; Frascati, Amsterdam; Theatre Deli, London; Marieta, Sao Paulo; Glasshouse Project, New York; Camden People’s Theatre, London; Amsterdam Fringe Festival; MaasTD, Rotterdam and Theater am Lend, Graz.

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Thomas Bliss

Thomas, aged 19, is studying a BA in Acting with The Actors Wheel in Plymouth. He has performed in tours including Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Sophocles’ Electra. Being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of five, he’s always found it hard to grow his social circles/contacts - a key part of becoming a successful actor. Being offered the chance to perform at Autism Arts Festival with a selection of new plays is so exciting as it’s like nothing he’s done before. He’s really excited to be working with six brand new plays, and to meet so many interesting people.

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Scarlett Lassoff

Scarlett works somewhere between cabaret, performance and live art, specialising in homemade costumes and exploding props. Her pieces explore gender, the grotesque, pop and trash culture, as seen by a queer femme dyspraxic drag creature. She presents performative snapshots of dreamlike, bizarre and utopian fantasies through a neurodivergent DIY lens. She has presented work internationally from Manila to LA. She starred in Arts Council-funded theatre piece Nights at the Circus, a collaboration between disabled and non-disabled artists, and worked with recently reunited Cushion Collective to bring back their legendary cabaret club nights.

Applications for Square Peg Scripts are now closed. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list to be kept updated about future opportunities, please fill in the form below.

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