Platform returns with new plays putting girls centre stage

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We're delighted to announce two new plays in the Platform series, our partnership with Tonic Theatre which provides much-needed onstage opportunities to girls and young women in school, college and youth theatre groups. The new plays, The Glove Thief by Beth Flintoff and Red by Somalia Seaton, will be available to read and perform from November 2017.

First launched in 2015 as a partnership between Tonic Theatre and NHB, Platform is a series of plays written specifically for performance by schools, colleges and youth theatre groups. The plays are designed for performance by all-female or mainly female casts.

The Platform series was conceived as a response to the findings of Tonic’s research report Swimming in the Shallow End (available to read in full online here), which showed that drama groups at schools, colleges and in youth theatre had majority female participants but a significant lack of parts for them to play. This concerned both the number of parts available, and the quality of those parts – how well-written, developed and central the characters were to the action. Tonic’s research showed that this chronic lack of opportunity and marginalisation eroded girls’ confidence, self-esteem and aspiration, denying them the many benefits drama can bring to young people. The Platform plays were commissioned to help address this imbalance.

The first three Platform plays – The Light Burns Blue by Silva Semerciyan, Second Person Narrative by Jemma Kennedy and This Changes Everything by Joel Horwood – were launched in 2015, and have since seen dozens of productions by schools, colleges, universities and theatre companies around the world, offering valuable opportunities to hundreds of young women. This Changes Everything was nominated for Best Play for Young Audiences at the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards 2017.

The two new Platform plays will be available to read and perform from November 2017. Scripts and performance licences are available at a specially discounted rate to education, youth and arts organisations. Full information about the plays and how to apply to perform them is available at www.tonictheatre-platform.co.uk.

Lucy Kerbel, Director of Tonic Theatre: 'Youth drama is the engine room of the theatre industry; tomorrow’s theatre-makers (not to mention audience members) are to be found today in youth-theatre groups, university drama societies and school drama clubs. If we can challenge their assumptions about the role of women’s stories, voices, and ideas in drama, then change in the profession – in time – will be immeasurably easier to achieve.

‘From November there will be five Platform plays available, and at Tonic our hope is that there will be many more. Our aspiration is to keep commissioning titles in the series so that over time Platform will become a new canon of writing for young actors and one that puts girls and their lives centre stage.

‘The first three plays in the series were published two years ago and already in that time have been performed across the length and breadth of the country as well as in Australia, Ireland and the USA. I look forward to hearing about productions of these new plays – and a future where great stories about girls and their lives are being staged in theatres, halls, drama studios and classrooms as the rule rather than the exception.’

Tamara von Werthern, Performing Rights Manager at Nick Hern Books: ‘When we first decided – in collaboration with Tonic Theatre – to publish and license the Platform plays, we had high hopes that by making plays available which gave young women the opportunity to take centre stage, we would change not only their confidence levels but also the theatrical landscape as a whole.

‘Whilst the success of the first three Platform plays is cause for celebration, it is no reason for complacency. We are delighted to add a further two great plays to the series, which will hopefully be received as enthusiastically by schools and youth groups, and will further help to create confident young women on and off stage.’

Beth Flintoff, writer of new Platform play The Glove Thief: ‘Being asked to write a play designed to be performed primarily by young women is an honour and a privilege. I spent seven years working with the Senior Youth Theatre at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, so I understand the difficulty of finding plays that do not result in a bun fight for sparse female roles. I know what it’s like to be that director, but I also know what it’s like to be in that cast. It feels like only yesterday that I couldn’t have a speaking role in the school play because there was only one female part and I’d had a go the year before.

‘Tonic represents a movement for change that I am thrilled to be a part of. Every performance by a youth or community theatre is a miracle, a triumph of hard work and faith over practical and financial obstacles. It’s a source of great pride for a playwright to be a breeze block in the building of such miracles.’

Somalia Seaton, writer of new Platform play Red: ‘More girls than boys engage with drama both in school and outside. Yet there are fewer roles written for them. The lack of female roles continues into adulthood. It’s pretty boring that this is often the case. Any initiative that sets about putting young girls centre stage is an initiative that benefits not only young girls, but the whole of society.’

Platform returns with new plays putting girls centre stage
  • Red (Platform Play)
  • The Glove Thief (Platform Play)