Oxford Playmaker works with emerging writers from first to final draft.

From kick-starting first ideas to mounting a full production, we work with and mentor playwrights at every stage of the creative process.

We offer one-to-one script surgeries for writers who want close professional attention to a script. We work attentively and questioningly with the writer on all aspects of the play’s dramaturgical development. We give advice on networking possibilities to help place the play with a theatre or a company that produces new writing. For some writers we go on to direct a staged reading of their work with professional actors in a theatre venue in Oxford or London, which may lead to a full production of the writer’s play.

AWARD FOR JOHN / Director John Retallack and Northern Broadsides’ Sue Andrews honoured at Olwen Wymark awards

John Retallack – Winner of the Olwen Wymark Theatre Encouragement Awards 2017

Nominated by WGGB member Zena Forster for his continued mentorship, and support in developing her first original stage play The Fourth Dog.

Zena Forster said: “I first met John at a scratch night at the Old Fire Station in Oxford where I was trying out a scene from a work in progress. I had written adaptations for Radio 3 and 4 but this was my first piece for the stage. John liked my writing and encouraged me to send him some of my work. Since then, he has become a wonderful mentor to me, helping me transform my rather rambling script of Antigona and Me, and directing the piece for last year’s Offbeat festival and again last year in a staged reading at the National Theatre (for which he received no fee).

“John is a writer’s director and the insights and guidance he gave me – during script development and rehearsals – have taught me a huge amount and facilitated professional productions of my work. He is well-known for his commitment to new writers, but the time and energy he has invested in me this past year demonstrates his remarkable passion for theatre and new playwrights.

“In the past year, he has given freely of his time and experience and helped me develop my first original stage play, The Fourth Dog. He has been with me at every stage, read countless drafts, devoted whole mornings to script meetings and offered to act as a dramaturg for Human Story Theatre’s production of the play, again without a fee. I’m in no doubt that without his support, The Fourth Dog would not have enjoyed the popular or critical success that it has. Indeed, without John’s generosity, experience and insights, the professional production of this play would never have happened.”

Zena Forster. Money (Drama on 3 for Radio 3, directed by Sam West). Hester (Woman’s Hour 15′ Series, Radio 4, produced by Jonquil Panting, starred Penelope Wilton). The Fourth Dog. (Winner of A Word in Your Ear – Earshot competition. Produced by A Word in Your Ear, starred Sophie Thompson).

I have had the great fortune and pleasure to work with John in three different contexts: whilst I was a student on an Arvon residential playwriting course; as a co-writer on The Last Days of Mankind; and as a teaching colleague delivering a course on dramatic monologues at Ruskin College, Oxford.

John has that great and rare ability to be able to communicate all that he has learned from his own work as a playwright and theatre maker to his students in a way that is accessible, challenging and supportive in equal measure. He has substantial knowledge of an extraordinary variety of different theatrical styles, drawn from practical, professional experience, and the critical, analytical and teaching skills to pass that knowledge on to learners. As a tutor I found him inspiring and provocative; as a co-writer he was generous, truly collaborative, and always open to new ideas; and as a teaching colleague he was supportive and great fun to work with. I leave any conversation with John with my head buzzing with new ideas and challenges, eager to return to my laptop and get writing. If anyone can inspire, guide and develop writers at any stage of their career, then John can.

Toby Hulse
Playwright, Theatre Director, Creative Practitioner



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