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A Letter From Amanda Whittington

Amanda Whittington is one of the most widely performed playwrights in the UK. Amanda writes in solidarity with UK theatres and young writers...

Dear friends,

I’m writing to you on a rainy Friday morning, four months since British theatre closed its doors due to Covid-19. As I write, we don’t know for certain when - or if - the places where we work will re-open. Thousands of jobs, opportunities, companies and buildings are on the brink. Three months ago, the idea theatre would be fighting for its survival was unthinkable but in the ‘new normal’, here we are.

Fortunately, I’ve kept working through lockdown. In many ways, it’s been business as usual. Self-isolation is pretty much like an average day for a playwright. We’re accustomed to solitude, and to like your own company is part of the job. I’ve got four plays on the go, two for radio and two for theatre. They’re keeping me sane, as writing has all my life.

I wasn’t trained or qualified for the job. I didn’t think I’d get rich. I wanted to write to express myself, find my voice, somehow be seen and be heard. At 19, I declared myself a writer with no track record, no experience, no opportunities and let’s be honest, no idea of what I was doing. But looking back, as I’ve done a lot during lockdown, what I did have was faith and hope. If you’re a young writer, you have it, too.

What I’m learning this year is writing is still - and always is - an act of faith and hope. It starts with a blank page and ends who knows where? Every day is a leap in the dark, a journey into the unknown. I work through it because it’s not (just) what I do, it’s who I am. Talking to young writers on Zoom through lockdown, I see it’s who you are, too. Your ideas, vision and dedication fills me with faith and hope for the future of theatre, literature, poetry - and a country in crisis.

In the first play I wrote, a character talked of setting out ‘on a long road with no signposts’ to get where she had to be. I remember that line as I’m still on that road. I think we all are. Now we meet at a junction, right here, at this moment in time. Where are we heading? Who knows for sure, but I’m happy we’re walking together, old hands and new: step by step, line by line; in hope, faith and solidarity.

Love,
Amanda Whittington.

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