The Writers’ Block and the Minack Theatre are thrilled to announce that West Cornish theatre-maker and youth worker, Tori Cannell, has won a commission for her new play ‘You Never Saw Me’ which will be filmed at the Minack and published on the prestigious Playwright’s Laboratory website this Autumn. This project is the result of a collaboration between the Minack and The Writers’ Block, to support emerging playwrights in Cornwall.
John Brolly, Associate Director of the Minack, explains, “The Minack’s support for emerging writers and our partnership with The Writers’ Block has been a key part of our artist development programme for several years. We annually commission four short plays and support the excellent playwriting sessions led by Jane Pugh. This new commission of a one act play has been a great opportunity for us to continue this development and offer a next stage for writers to aim at.”
The one act play commission will help Tori to get her work professional recognition. Amanda Harris, director of The Writers’ Block, is delighted at the success this project is having, “Judging by the quality and quantity of the applications this programme is having an impact on playwriting across Cornwall and beyond – we were challenged to make a decision, as there were so many promising applicants. However, Tori Cannell thrilled the panel with her unusual characters and setting which at the same time shared the nuggets of a universal experience. We are very excited to see the final script.”
West Cornwall based Tori has worked in the arts and education all her life. She has been a theatre maker, director, creative producer, actor and puppeteer for over 30 years. She’s also a qualified youth worker, coach and mentor with a passion for youth and community led arts. Tori currently works as creative lead at Trelya, in Penzance, an award–winning charity working to enable positive change in West Cornwall’s most under-resourced communities.
Writing plays for adults is a new experience for Tori. “The initial idea came to me whilst attending a course run by The Writers’ Block – ‘Writing for Theatre’ delivered by Jane Pugh. Once it had finished, what had started as a response to a writing exercise, grew into an idea. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to write it.
“I have written plays for children and family audiences. I have been part of devising theatre shows with theatre companies, but this is the first time I will have written a play for an adult audience.
“I am interested in putting older women on stage in strong character-led narratives that represent women in all their complexity, lived experience and individuality. I am also interested in how secrets and shame impact on our lives and affect the way we relate to others. Is it ever too late to tell or even accept the truth?
“I am 56 and I look back at when I was 50. In many ways I was a different person. I didn’t quite realise it at the time but at 50 I grew up significantly. In this play, a 50th reunion brings old ‘friends’ back face to face not only with each other but their memories too. Something happened in the park when they were 16. Is it ever possible to forget it completely?”
Inspired by the theatre’s creator, Rowena Cade, the Minack runs an extensive community programme, designed to give inspiration and creative opportunities to people in West Cornwall. This includes working in schools, outreach into areas of deprivation, an Academy programme for young people considering a career in the performing arts, and partnerships with organisations such as the Writers’ Block, to support adults of all ages to develop their creativity.
Subtitled ‘A coming of age story for the older woman’, the development of Tori’s work will be mentored over the next few months by screen and stage writer Jane Pugh and the Writers’ Block. This will culminate in a professional rehearsed reading at the Minack, which will be filmed and published by the Playwright’s Laboratory, an international network presenting filmed readings of exceptional new plays on a world stage.
However, the work of creative writing still takes place back home in front of a computer. Tori says, “My style of working is naturally collaborative, but I am so excited to be writing this play and realising my own ideas. I am delighted and so grateful for the mentoring from Jane Pugh and support from the Minack Theatre and The Writers Block.
“I have been reading about other writers’ approaches to writing and taking top tips. For me, it’s a morning swim in the sea, strong coffee with toast and peanut butter. Once my fingers have warmed up enough to write or type I get started.”
For information about the Minack visit minack.com
For information about Jane Pugh visit davidhighham.co.uk
For information about the Playwright’s Laboratory visit PlaywrightsLab.com