I’d like to introduce ChippyWriters ~ We are two groups of Creative Writers who meet on a Monday morning or afternoon for three ten-week terms during the year, at Chipping Norton Theatre, and generally we laugh much of the time.
These Creative Writing classes are part of the Chipping Norton Theatre’s Take Part Initiative to involve people in local communities in the Arts. Originally termed Writing for Seniors, they have been running since around the beginning of the Millennium. I have not yet found out who was the very first tutor, but I’ve been told that the second was actor and playwright, Steven Deproost, followed by poet, writer and performer Brenda Read-Brown 2002 – 2004.
Pat Winslow 2004 – 2011 was tutor when I joined the class in 2008. She had been an actor for several years, so as a published poet was comfortable giving public readings of her work. I attended one of these in her local town of Witney. ~ I found her feedback and guidance allowed me to gain more confidence to dissect and rework my own poems to get them right. After seven years with the class, she left to train and work as a Humanist Celebrant. See link below. ~ To date she has had seven books of poetry published and is still winning awards for her poetry and fiction. See Amazon.co.uk for her poetry.
2011 – 2017. When I re-joined the class after a short break, the tutor was Alan Pollock, lecturer, playwright, scriptwriter and lately, 'Coventry Boy done good', since working alongside others he has helped Coventry in a successful bid to become the City of Culture in 2021 ~ Alan is also closely associated with Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and some of our class went to see performances of his ‘One Night in November,’ a play about the bombing of Coventry, and the following year, his musical, ‘Godiva Rocks’. (One show literally went off with a bang and the other rocked!) ~ As a dramatist with a wide knowledge of film, Alan encouraged us to focus on our ‘Works in Progress’ but also gave us quite challenging subjects for homework. Not always comfortable, but they made us focus in on our own experiences to generate dramatic situations. We frequently surprised ourselves (and him), even those who only started writing their homework at 8am on the day of the class!
Our morning group had been open to all age groups over eighteen and a sizeable waiting list had been building up, so a second tutor, Miranda Walker, was engaged to run an afternoon class. She stepped in to tutor our morning group when the demands of Alan’s theatrical work escalated and he needed all his time to focus on that. Around the same time, he had also been working on a commission to write a children’s book about a Bear who went to war to be published May 2019.
2016 – 2018 Miranda Walker: I was about fifteen minutes late when I apologised my way into Miranda’s first session with us. She beamed me into the room with a smile and I found out she was used to working with, and for, children, including books and TV. Very re-assuring! I found the ways in which she inspired our homework interesting and innovative. ~ She gave us workshops on how and where to sell our work and also, the message that we all have an audience out there. Miranda should know because she is an author, poet, lyricist, playwright and scriptwriter who writes prolifically for TV, Stage and Radio. ~ She lives in Cheltenham where she is involved with the Cheltenham Festival and is also a writer for the Everyman Theatre, most recently and notably for her musical play ‘Fly Eddie Fly’. She has been succeeded by friend and fellow lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, Martin Lytton, who is also a writer with the Everyman.
2018 Ongoing - Martin Lytton, Ex-Cop, poet and playwright, is also from Cheltenham, via Sweden, so if there are any local Swedes who want to join the class, they could write in two languages! ~ As with Miranda, he is also involved in some very interesting activities with the Everyman involving local people. ~ Our interesting class discussions continue as expected, and so do the challenging assignments and the laughs!
Classes are by no means all Seniors now. We meet mostly in the room above the Theatre Art Gallery, though if there are rehearsals running and sets being built, then we meet in the back room at the beautifully refurbished Chequers next door.
I would like to give a nod of thanks to the Theatre for getting these classes going because I haven’t written them an ode yet and they deserve it. ~ It’s great to have a place and time to get together and share our work, even if it is on a Monday! They’ve encouraged us to read our work aloud at their ‘Take Part’ public showcase sessions on stage, so thanks Theatre staff and volunteers who facilitate what is, hopefully, a confidence building exercise beneath the spotlights. ~ This website has been created to showcase some of our work. I hope our visitors will enjoy reading these selected offerings. Thanks to Webmaster Tim, for enabling this.
To contribute, use the Contact form on the website to send a message to Tim, the Webmaster, with your name, contact details and how you are or have been connected to the Classes. He will send you a Login invitation for which you will choose a password. After this, you can create a short profile of yourself and copy and paste any work you would like to publish online. You can also choose whether or not you wish to receive outside comments on the work you post.