Self-dubbed the ‘Springboard Festival’, INK Festival will bring a showcase of new writing to East Anglia this coming April 2016. The weekend long festival not only showcases amazing new work from writers, but also offers many other opportunities for new and emerging talent.
‘INK is a new writing festival for short plays. We are all about supporting new writers. It’s about breaking down those barriers of starting out in the industry and giving new writers a stage so they can express themselves, develop their work and also network’, describes Emma Struthers, Festival Director of INK. ‘There’s a lot of young people in really remote towns like Suffolk and Norfolk who don’t have the sort of opportunities of a festival on their doorstep – one that is accessible and reasonably priced. So, in terms of the audience view it’s really delving into the arts and giving them an opportunity to see something that’s new, doesn’t have the price tag of bigger festivals and is something that they can get involved with themselves.’
‘Last year we had a bit of theatre, a bit of short film and we were really developing as a festival’, explains Struthers, ‘We were getting to know the area, writers and what sort of categories and things they wanted to write about.’ Based on this, the categories for this year’s festival include; New Play (for plays 30 minutes or less), Young Writer (for scripts written by people eighteen and under), Child’s Play (which links with the festival’s in-house theatre group Mini Mouth Theatre Company for writers to write for young performers), Short Film (film scripts fifteen minutes and under) and new to the festival is the 90 Second Film School.
As a springboard festival a lot of the writers involved in INK have gone on to develop their work and their careers in the industry. Struthers talks of examples like Kevin Maclusky and James McDermott. Maclusky has gone on to further develop his work with the festival this year, with a view to either tour it or produce it with a local theatre company. While McDermott’s play went on to be shown at Latitude festival. In addition to winning Best New Comedy at Velvet Trumpet’s New Short Comedy Competition Soggy Brass at Southwark Playhouse. A number of plays were also selected for Cambridge’s Hotbed Festival.
‘We’re unpretentious, gutsy and create a real buzz’, Struthers says of the work produced at the festival, ‘We have live music from local bands, we have short snippets of theatre and multiple performances going on in different rooms over this huge building. The audience can really join us for that journey of going round the theatre and seeing different shows and because it’s short theatre as well it’s got more of a social aspect. There’s something for everyone. We have kid’s theatre, comedy, poetry – there’s a real mix of things that are going on!’
Although INK festival is open to all ages and aims to get people working together, they do a lot of work with young talent as well. ‘We work with our local Mini Mouth Theatre Company (which is 6-10 year olds). Last year they performed in a clowning workshop and then put together their own piece. Which was really amazing because it was instant, pop-up theatre on the day! There’s the Young Writer category which is new this year for eighteens and under. We also work a lot with students from universities. We’ve had people from the University of East Anglia who have been helping us run workshops. They were very much involved in our festival last year – a lot of work was from University students’, says Struthers, ‘For young people, because we have such a wide range of people involved we are giving them the opportunity to learn from these people and to gain work experience. All our volunteers for the festival are students from local high schools. We’re very keen to get young people to help out in all aspects of the festival.’
The opportunities offered, the amazing work on show and the bringing together of communities in East Anglia makes INK a really exciting festival. From the fantastic feedback from directors, publications, writers and audience members from the last festival, the 2016 festival is set to be an amazing event. Submissions are open now!
INK Festival is on at The Cut from April 8 – 10 2016. For more information visit Ink Festival