English and Scottish Literature

From the page to the stage

We talk to four students on our MSc in Playwriting programme whose work will be professionally read for a live audience as part of the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

'Pre-View' at Traverse Theatre takes place over two nights as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world.

The annual event sees the work of students on the MSc in Playwriting programme in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) read by professional actors in front of a live audience.

This year, in partnership with Playwrights' Studio, Scotland, ‘Pre-View’ will feature readings of Erica Mack (Munro)'s 'The Brahan Child' and Madison Pollack's 'Pink House' on Monday 6th August 2018 at 7:30pm, followed, a week later, by Felix Maxwell's 'Born to Rule' and Derek Roland's 'The Exhibit' on Monday 13th August 2018 at 7:30pm. The first set of readings will be directed by Philip Howard (Traverse Theatre and Dundee Rep), and the second set by Jemima Levick (Stellar Quines Theatre Company).

We filmed the students at one of the workshops they've had to develop their dissertation plays, asking them about the value of feedback and peer review, and how they’re feeling about the upcoming readings, all of which are world premieres.

Sharing learning

The peer review aspect of our MSc in Playwriting gives students the opportunity to put into practice key skills around developing a piece of work, including dramaturgy, and helps them avoid writing alone. One of the playwrights, Madison Pollack, believes this has shaped her approach to writing:

"I think it's easier to apply what you learn to other people's scripts than it is to your own, most of the time. It's also really helpful that everyone is learning the same things, but [people] differ in what they specifically need to pay attention to. When I think about what I need to work on, that's not necessarily what everyone else does, so they're able to notice my problems more than I would." 

This is a sentiment echoed by fellow student, Erica Mack:

"Writers work on their own so much, and you can read something and think it's wonderful. It's only when you get in a room, and hear it read out and get other people's responses to it that you can really get some distance and perspective on where your work is going and whether it's actually any good or not. The good thing about days like this is that the feedback is always constructive and always professional. It really helps us with our next drafts." 

Moving towards The Fringe

Photo of four playwriting students
Madison, Derek, Erica and Felix

"Today's workshop is about talking to other playwrights about how to progress from here on out, moving towards The Fringe in the summer" says Felix Maxwell, another of the playwrights whose work will be performed at the Traverse. "It's pretty excellent in the fact that you get to hear your work read out by other people, who are incredibly constructive and help you move forward as a whole."

Reflecting on the process so far, MSc student Derek Roland feels the workshops have really helped him to prepare for the performance in August. 

"What we're all in it for is to have work performed, and [Pre-View] allows us to do just that, and see how an audience reacts. The process leading up to that is really insightful. Today, for example, helped me to zero in on the overall picture of the play I’m trying to create; what goals my protagonist is heading towards, what obstacles might be in her way, and the tactics she might use to get around them. We're learning a lot about what it takes to get a play up, and take it from the page to the stage."

Are you interested in studying for an MSc in Playwriting at LLC?

Our practical masters programme is taught over one year (full time) or two years (part time) through a dynamic combination of seminars, workshops, one-to-one supervision and professional masterclasses. The rehearsed readings at Traverse Theatre are unique to the programme; no other course in the UK or Ireland offers this element.

Find out more about our MSc in Playwriting 

Related links

Book tickets for this year's 'Pre-View' on the Traverse website

Read about the range of Edinburgh Festival Fringe events featuring our staff, students and alumni

Meet our playwriting graduates and read interviews with Brandon Shalansky and Rosanna Hall