Women in the Spotlight

by commonword in Manchester

We did it
On 28th October 2015 we successfully raised £250 with 16 supporters in 28 days

Women in the Spotlight (WITS) is a theatre development programme for BAME and/or queer women who want to write for and/or perform on stage.

by commonword in Manchester

Project aim

We need your help to raise £2500 for Women in the Spotlight (WITS) to attend a writing retreat to develop their work, so that it is ready for performance in 2016.

About the project

Women in the Spotlight (WITS) is a theatre development programme for BAME and/or queer women who want to write for and/or perform on stage. This project will culminate in 12 queer women and/or BAME women having their short plays staged at a Manchester theatre and also them having the opportunity to confidently perform their own work within an established arts venue.



WITS has been running since 2013. In the past year, we have supported 7 women to each write a short play for the stage- all of which were showcased at Three Minute Theatre in Manchester, in May 2015.

On both days that the plays were shown, there were highly positive reviews:

‘Engaging, provoking, humorous.’

‘I loved it! More please. Funny and touching and thought provoking.’

‘Very impressive for a first play!’

‘I thought it was honest and well performed. Really like to see this developed into a full play!’

‘Topic was refreshing, the characters very believable, I knew them when I was younger. I want to see more of this play.’


Why is it necessary to provide more opportunities for black and/or queer women in theatre?

The project was established in light of the subtle exclusion that women have experienced at spoken word performances and slams. This marginalisation is worse when it comes to black and/or queer women. WITS addresses the issues faced by female spoken word artists in a public space that remains dominated by men, by giving women the opportunity to develop their work and providing a space in which their work can be showcased. Our aim is to encourage and support more women to be able to perform their work on the stage or confidently write work for the stage.

The project is run by Commonword: a writing development organisation based in Manchester, providing opportunities for new and aspiring writers to develop their talent and potential.



Where will the money go?

The success of our Crowdfunder campaign will provide 37% of the total funds required for an Arvon residential writing retreat (March 2016) at The Hurst in Shropshire (http://www.arvon.org/centres/the-hurst/) . Remaining funds have been contributed through our partnership with Arvon and via small contributions from the participants. The work produced during this week will be published in an anthology and the resulting 12 short plays will be showcased at a theatre in Manchester in late April/early May 2016.

Without this funding, these women will not be able to attend the retreat or be provided with the time, space and creative writing support to develop their work.

Arvon’s five-day residential creative writing courses offer a powerful mix of workshops, individual tutorials and time and space to write, led by leading writers. Tutors and a mid-week guest to be confirmed but will be experienced and established within the industry. Arvon have been providing writing retreats since the late 1960s and giving writers a space in which to focus solely on their writing away from their busy day to day lives. The £2500 we need to raise will go towards:

  • Two tutors to provide writing workshops and one-to-one tuition, in the areas of performance poetry and scriptwriting
  • The production of an anthology of the work created during the residential



What’s in it for you?

By making a pledge to support WITS, we will shower you with praise on our social media channels. And, dependent on the amount you pledge, we will also send you some poetic and theatrical gifts in the post, ranging from poetry postcards to a handpicked selection of books from Commonword's archives (including sought after titles dating back to the 1980s). Finally, you’ll also get to experience that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with doing something that benefits someone else.







This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£5 or more

£5 Reward

A wholehearted thank you from us on facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or LinkedIn and the knowledge that you did something good today #allthefuzzyfeelings

£10 or more

£10 Reward

Three limited edition postcards covered in poetry and short fiction from the WITS team

£20 or more

£20 Reward

Seven limited edition postcards featuring a mix of poetry and short fiction, written by the WITS team

£30 or more

4 of 30 claimed

£30 Reward

Limited edition poster featuring the names of all the women that Commonword has published since 1977 and a copy of Suitcase Book of Love Poems (plus the previous perks)

£50 or more

0 of 15 claimed

£50 Reward

A Commonword goody bag including a short personal poem written by one of the team; John Siddique's 'Poems from a Northern Soul'; 'Praise Songs for Aliens' by Segun Lee French; Sweet Tongues Crocus Book of Food Poems; a discount card for reduced price entry to all Commonword and Young Enigma events for the whole of 2016 ... along with the £10 and under perks

£75 or more

0 of 9 claimed

£75 Reward

Two tickets to the final WITS production (date tbc, late April/early May 2016) and a copy of 'Healing Strategies for Women at War' featuring the work of Su Andi, Trudy Blake, Maya Chowdhry, Shamshad Khan, Tang Lin, Seni Seneviratne and Marie Guise Williams …along with all the £30 and under perks

£100 or more

0 of 16 claimed

£100 Reward

A surprise bundle of 5 books published by Commonword since 1977. Bundles will include a combination of the following: Common Verse Anthology (1978), Holding Out (Short Stories by Women) (1988), She Says (1988), Beyond Paradise (1990), Herzone (1991), Flame (1992), The Delicious Lie by Georgina Blake (1992), Kiss Anthology (1995), Nailing Colours (1997) and Bitch Lit (2006) ...and all £20 and under perks

£150 or more

0 of 5 claimed

£150 Reward

A personal edit of a piece of your work** by the Commonword team, plus all £30 and under rewards (**the first three chapters of a novel/novella, 4000 words of short fiction, 10-12 poems)

£250 or more

0 of 2 claimed

£250 Reward

Bundle of 12 Commonword books and all £50 and under perks. Titles may include those listed on the £100 pledge and/or 'Alaska' by Cheryl Martin, 'Amsterdam' by Chanje Kunda, 'Crafting the Practice' by the late Dike Omeje, Peace Poems, Hula Hoops and Slinkies, A Crocus Selection

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