Over the last six months the Write by the Quays competition offered students the opportunity to work with BBC Writersroom North to develop short plays about Salford as part of MediaCityUK opening celebrations.
And six winning writers –Performance undergraduate Damian Healy, English and Creative Writing student Sophie Moss, English and Drama undergraduate Sheryl Cunliffe, Scriptwriting postgraduate Matt Britton, and English Literature undergraduates Somayya Mirza and Adam Whittaker – saw their works performed at the BBC’s new MediaCityUK home in front of an audience of staff and members of the public.
More than 130 entries were received for the competition from Salford students studying subjects as diverse as Law and Social Work as well as Creative Writing, English and Drama.
Judges included actress Shobna Gulati, who plays Sunita Alahan in Coronation Street; Creative Director of New Writing at the BBC Kate Rowland; Omar Elerian, Associate Director at the Bush Theatre in London; and University of Salford Lecturer in Creative Writing and deviser of the project Jennifer Tuckett. They had a difficult task selecting the winning plays, which were performed by professional actors and directed by Elizabeth Newman, Associate Director at the Octagon Theatre Bolton and head of the theatre’s new writing department.
Shobna Gulati said: “This project is a unique celebration of the opening of MediaCityUK, offering students an important opportunity to work with the BBC, learn about the industry and see whether scriptwriting might be a possible career for them.”
Jennifer Tuckett commented: “Over the course of six months more than 500 students at the University have participated in workshops with the BBC and 80 students have taken part in a targeted course focused on producing work for Write by the Quays.
“The chance for all of these students to see that one day they could be working for organisations such as the BBC at MediaCityUK has been invaluable. Many have said that they now feel that writing and working for the BBC might be future career paths they could seriously consider.”
“We’re always excited to work with the next generation of talent and in partnership with the University of Salford,” said Kate Rowland. “It’s a powerhouse of new ideas and, like us, is committed to developing and nurturing new writers.”
The six winning plays were:
- 62 Nelson Street, by Sheryl Cunliffe, about a young girl who is befriended by the ghost of Emmeline Pankhurst during the Salford riots
- Davey, 21, by Adam Whittaker – a young man from Salford takes part in a game show that begins to seem to be strangely about him
- Aliens in Salford, by Sophie Moss, about a child with Asperger Syndrome who prepares to be kidnapped by aliens in Salford
- Miremos Al Manana (Look to tomorrow), by Damian Healy – a film-noir inspired piece, playing on Salford’s underworld reputation.
- In Bloom, by Matt Britton, which sees Salford residents try to get their street ready for the Salford In Bloom contest
- The Wings of a Child, by Somayya Mirza, about a young girl and a child forging an unexpected friendship.