Tag Archives: Ty Newydd

Ty Newydd Masterclass announced for 11-16 June 2018


Ty Newydd









Delighted that my masterclass in writing for performance at Ty Newydd, the National Writing Centre for Wales, has been announced.

I will be back in beautiful north Wales, leading an intensive practical workshop for experienced writers between Monday 11 June – Saturday 16 June 2018. This is a special course, for just eight participants, and it always fills quickly,  so early booking is advised. I ask for writers to apply for the course, outlining emerging work, hopes for the week, and any particular areas you wish to explore. I’ve been told by participants over the years that this short ‘application’ focuses minds and moves embryonic projects along even before we gather in Llanystumdwy, so it seems to be useful for the writer as well as myself and Ty Newydd, curating the best course and company.

Masterclass: Writing for Performance

Mon 11 Jun – Sat 16 Jun 2018
Tutor / Kaite O’Reilly
Course Fee / From £495 – £625 per person
Genres / PerformanceScripting
Language / English
“The tutor was outstanding… I’ve been twice before and I learn more and more each time. Kaite is rigorous, supportive, and exciting to work with.”
Participant on 2017 masterclass.

.This is a masterclass for experienced writers who are seeking guidance with the shaping and direction of their work-in-progress, or who have an idea formulating, burning to get on the page. This intensive but enjoyable week is structured with daily practical workshops and exercises to find entry points for new writing, and skills-based tasks to develop technique and strengthen your work. This will include approaches to editing and revision, developing character, plot, dynamic, and the world of your play. We will explore the most effective dramatic structure for your script or best form for your performance writing, finding clarity about what you really want to say and how best dramaturgically to communicate it.

There will be one-to-one dramaturgical sessions during the week; evening practical workshops; and a chance to share work-in-progress and garnering constructive feedback.

As this is a popular course with an unusually small group for experienced writers (8 participants) there will be a selection process. You will be asked to outline your project, areas of concern you wish to address, and share some work-in-progress, even if just an idea. This will enable the week to be bespoke, structured specifically towards developing the work of the participants. Contact Tŷ Newydd with your application.

An advance reading list will also be provided. At the end of the week you will be ready for the next stage in your writing, with new starting points and techniques.


Ty Newydd, the house:

Built in the fifteenth century, Tŷ Newydd is a Grade II* listed building with a rich history. Famously the last home of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, it has seen many families passing through its doors over the centuries. The heritage rattles around the rooms in Tŷ Newydd.

The house itself has six bedrooms, two libraries, a large dining room, a kitchen, and a conservatory. It also houses the Tŷ Newydd office. Tŷ Newydd’s outbuilding, Hafoty, includes the tutors’ quarters, and a further six rooms for guests. It also includes a writing nook. The atmosphere at Tŷ Newydd is relaxed and informal, and in feedback, we are told over and over again how conducive this is to creativity.

When you stay with us, Tŷ Newydd becomes your creative space, your home in which to shift about and share ideas with fellow writers. The beautiful grounds looking out over Cardigan Bay were restyled by famous architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the 1940s, and provide the perfect setting for you to write in peace and quiet.

Y Labordy – new initiative for writers for TV, Theatre and Film

I’m excited to be involved in this new initiative for Welsh language writers for TV,  theatre and film:

Ty Newydd

Ty Newydd

New Initiative Y Labordy Calls for Experienced Welsh Language Writers for TV, Theatre and Film

Have you written the next must-have box set? Should your words be spoken and heard at theatres across the globe? Is your feature script one rung away from the silver screen?

A new tailored initiative for experienced Welsh language writers of theatre, film and TV led by Literature Wales, Y Labordy is a unique opportunity for four experienced and aspiring writers to develop their ideas alongside some of the most respected scriptwriters and producers in their industry.

This bespoke immersive course will expand your knowledge and skills culminating in the opportunity to pitch to an array of international financiers and commissioners.

The objective of this ground-breaking initiative is to create a pool of contemporary writing talent with the capability of writing high calibre scripts for different media platforms and to broaden ability for writing from an international perspective.

The four selected participants will bring with them talent and experience which requires support in order for them to succeed on a high end international platform.

Deadline for Submissions: 12.00pm, Friday 11 July

Contributors to the initiative include:

Jeppe Gjervig Gram (BAFTA award-winning writer, projects include Borgen), Lisa Albert (award winning writer-producer, projects include Mad Men), Kaite O’Reilly (award winning playwright and dramaturg), Rachel O’Flanagan (experienced script editor), Rebecca Lenkiewicz (award winning playwright and screenwriter), Lucy Davies (Executive Producer, Royal Court Theatre), Kieran Evans (BAFTA award winning writer/director), Ken White (independent filmmaker and screenwriter), Kate Leys (feature film script editor), P.G. Morgan (Emmy-winning writer/producer), Marina Zenovich (LA-based Emmy-winning director) and Angeli Macfarlane (film and TV story editor).

Content of the Course

The structure and content of Y Labordy will be designed with each individual participant in mind. Successful applicants will participate in a tailored 11 month scheme (not full time) involving residential courses at Literature Wales’ renowned Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre (the first residential course runs from 15 to 22 September), regular bespoke one to one mentoring, festival and conference attendance, business skills development and project specific guidance.

How to Apply

To be selected for a place on Y Labordy, participants must have at least one professional screen or theatre credit, and will have to submit a letter explaining your expression of interest, two original story ideas to be developed into a script for TV, Film or Theatre as well as a sample script of your own work. Published novelists are welcome to apply. We regret that this initiative is not for new writers.

For more detailed information and the full guidelines for Y Labordy Call for Submissions: http://www.literaturewales.org/news/i/145128/desc/y-labordy/?

In partnership with S4C, the Arts Council of Wales, Film Agency Wales, and Creative Skillset Cymru.


Mentoring Course. Ty Newydd National Writers Centre for Wales: Sharing of work in progress







Ty Newydd. Photo by Touchstone.

It is a cliche, but it is true: if you are immensely fortunate, mentoring and teaching can be a symbiotic experience. I’ve often seen books about creative writing dedicated to the students of the tutor/writer, and I fully understand that compulsion. I have just worked alongside eight playwrights over six months on the mentoring scheme at Ty Newydd, the  National Writers Centre of Wales. Our final weekend together looms and I feel I have probably learnt as much as I hope they have from our interaction and process together – if not more.

Dramaturgical work brings you to the heart of creating and constructing. I am constantly aware of the form, the medium, questioning and querying how it works, and how I can communicate that understanding to less experienced dramatists. The effort of engaging and trying to diagnose dramatic ills, to offer potential solutions or ways forward for the playwright to explore and decide what works best for her ambitions and intentions is edifying; to find the language to clarify rather than mystify during the process is challenging but improves my own articulation. To advise the playwright on his script whilst in the process is exhilarating and a privilege. I feel like a visitor in a photographer’s dark room – observing the characters and world of the play as they magically form in the developing fluid.

So this weekend brings the end of this most recent mentoring scheme, and we are keen to celebrate and share the evolving scripts. I also want to give the writers a taste – however briefly – of the rehearsal room and the revising process that may follow from that, so we are Doing It Ourselves. We also want to invite any interested parties who may be in North Wales this weekend along:

Saturday 13th October 2012

Lloyd George Museum, Llanystumdwy, Cricieth, Gwynedd. LL52 0SH.


We will be reading excerpts from eight new plays by

Julie Bainbridge

Sandra Bendelow

Anne Marie Durkin

Sean Lusk

Martin Pursey

Marie Quarman

Maria Vigar

Tom  Wentworth

Admission free


The Ty Newydd Mentoring Scheme is led by playwright/dramaturg Kaite O’Reilly. Over a six month period the eight selected writers on the course are supported throughout the process, from initial pitch to polished second draft.

A new scheme, for writers young in career will commence in December 2012, also led by Kaite. For further details on this course, please go to the Ty Newydd website or see: https://kaiteoreilly.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/mentoring-project-for-new-and-emerging-playwrights-working-with-kaite-oreilly-dec-2012-april-2013/

Revision notes (2) – focus on one thing at a time.







It may seem obvious, gnomic even, but it is a piece of advice so often overlooked when in the process of rewriting: When revising work, focus on one thing at a time…

Revising and redrafting a script can be a chaotic and ramshackle activity. After finally stumbling through to the end of an early draft, hopefully realising what the play is actually about (which may not be what we thought it was about when we set out…) it’s time to revisit and refine.

So often in my early experience and more recently, with those I dramaturg or mentor, revising can end up resembling the carnage of a kitten caught up in a ball of wool. It is not cute, or pleasant, or the stuff of chocolate box covers, despite its many cliches. In actuality the combination of tender inexpert claws and fragmenting strands of wool is brutal and choking and potentially deadly. Likewise for the enthusiastic or inexperienced playwright, whose imagined elegant and ordered combing through of the various strands of a script can result instead in a cat’s cradle of knots, unintentional dread-heads and confused despair.

I have done this so often myself in the past. I begin reading a first draft and see some improvements I could make in the flow of dialogue between the characters, so mid-read I begin the revision, only to get distracted by the layout, which surely should be indented and double-spaced? (yes please). So I start doing that, but wait, surely that’s a saggy bit there in the middle and the stakes aren’t nearly high enough? So if I just reintroduce the character I cut halfway through the first draft and have her explain – but no, wouldn’t that just make her a cipher? And that’d be telling, not showing – which seems to be what’s happening in that section there – so maybe, maybe if I changed his motivation in that beat and therefore introduced rising action there, I could…. and there I am, hopelessly lost and demented, script dismantled about me, trussed up in my narrative threads like a turkey on Christmas morning.

The necessity of being ordered in the redrafting process came up recently during an intensive workshop at Ty Newydd, the National Writers’ Centre of Wales. I’ve been leading a six month mentoring scheme with nine talented playwrights, and last weekend was our final session, reflecting on process and any final feedback on the scripts.

‘Try and work through the full draft, focusing on only one thing at a time’ I instructed, preparing them for the next draft. ‘One read-through you may be looking at the journey of each individual character – and don’t try to do several in one reading to save time, as you won’t. Focus and comb through that strand, separating it from other considerations, and really pay attention. Then another read-through may be taking the dramatic temperature of the whole – the presence of tension or pace or rising action. Another read may be looking at effective dialogue – and so on.’

It seems simple and obvious advice, yet somehow most of us manage not to absorb it. We try to be economical with time, but end up instead squandering it, giving ourselves headaches and small crises of confidence.

In redrafting, be specific and focus on only one thing at a time.

Be patient and calm.

Above all else, enjoy.

Your inner kitten will thank you for it.

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working (2): Ty Newydd

I’m reading a collection of short one act plays by a group of writers I’m mentoring as part of an initiative for Ty Newydd, the Writers’ Centre for Wales. The house, dating from the sixteenth century, is near the Snowdonia National park, set between the hills of Eifionydd and the sea, on a green baise lawn with what estate agents call commanding views over Cardigan Bay. It is astonishing and lovely, a perfect place for inspiration, the last home of Lloyd George.

The former prime minister and one of the architects of the Welfare State died in what is now the centre’s upstairs library. It is easy to imagine him perched high in a bed, bolstered by pillows, looking out onto the devastating view.

I’ve been teaching residential courses at Ty Newydd for around fifteen years and the Centre’s director, Sally Baker, is both resilient and visionary, eager to create new experiences for writers. She has indulged my experiments – playwrights working with visiting directors (Jenny Sealey, John McGrath, Phillip Zarrilli, Mike Pearson) – site-specific work, with a dozen writers taking over the house and grounds, making performances in every unlikely location, and the likely ones, too. She has even indulged our late night carousing and my ghost stories, particularly my insistence that Lloyd George’s spirit can be sensed in the upstairs bathroom, what had been his personal privvy. I mean no disrespect, I’m merely repeating what I’ve been told,  with a few tiny embellishments, which is to be expected at Ty Newydd, where stories take flight.

The great man is not buried in the Llanystumdwy churchyard, but down the lane from the house in the wooded valley of the Afon Dwyfor, under a huge stone. It feels Celtic and pagan and immensely appropriate. There is a hush around his memorial, as though the birds themselves have taken a moment to reflect. Whenever I walk down, there is always a writer, pen poised, breathing in the dappled air.

The mentoring course is taking place over a six month period with developmental workshops either end, March and September. The writers then develop and revise their plays between these two points of contact, with dramaturgical feedback from me on their drafts.
When we first met in March, the weekend coincided with Theatre Uncut, an initiative set up by Reclaim Productions, with theatres and groups across the UK responding to the coalition government’s spending cuts through a series of play readings, ‘bringing protest to the stage’. One of the writers on the mentoring course, Sandra Bendelow, brought our attention to the event and shared with us the seven short scripts by Lucy Kirkwood, Dennis Kelly, Laura Lomas, Anders Lustgarten, Mark Ravenhill, Jack Thorne and Clara Brennan. ‘Why don’t some of us participate in the weekend, and do a reading?’ Sandra suggested. She chose Mark Ravenhill’s script, which explored the dreams of a past generation through the 2010 student protests. Marge and Fred, figures from the past, celebrate the birth of the Welfare State whilst a contemporary character observes the plans for its dismantling.
And so we found ourselves standing around Lloyd George’s grave at dusk, reading him Ravenhill, telling him what was happening to his extraordinary achievement, the audacious dream which had been the envy of the world for so long.

Afterwards, we trailed back in the gloaming, reflective and silent.