Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Meet our graduates: Francisca Da Silveira

Working full time as a playwright, Francisca Da Silveira has held two year-long fellowships and had plays staged across the USA this year. She is a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2023 finalist.

Francisca Da Silveira was living and working in Boston, Massachusetts before moving to Edinburgh in 2018 for our Playwriting masters programme.

Head and shoulders photo of Francisca Da Silveira on a beach with her hood up
Francisca da Silveira, Playwriting MSc graduate and Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow (2022 to 2023)

Five years on, she has returned to the USA and is working full time as a playwright and, more recently, in TV and Film. In the last year alone, she has had four full productions of two different plays staged in Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Los Angeles.

As an undergraduate, Francisca studied Dramatic Writing at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She then took up a role as Literary Manager for Company One Theatre, which complemented her work as Programs Associate for a social justice non-profit organisation.

Having gained the foundations of her craft at Tisch, Francisca credits the Playwriting MSc at Edinburgh with helping launch her into the next phase of her writing career. This currently involves a year-long Jerome Fellowship with the Playwrights’ Center, Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Finding your individual style

“It was at the University of Edinburgh” Francisca reflects “that I was forced to interrogate my artistic mission and individual style and aesthetic. This made all the work that I created during the programme and after incredibly individual and intentional, with a rigour I hadn’t had before.”

“Nicola McCartney’s approach to teaching the MSc Playwriting is very unique and has a degree of care that one doesn’t often find in similar programmes. This is crucial to a masters, particularly one that is art based or related.”

It’s not just about the ‘how’ to create but the ‘why’ to create, and that means looking deep within to ask yourself difficult questions that then need to manifest themselves in the work and in this case on the page.

Francisca Da Silveira on the rigour of our Playwriting MSc

Studying at the heart of Edinburgh Festival Fringe

“There’s no better place to study playwriting than in Edinburgh”, says Francisca. “It’s probably scandalous to say but I’ll say it - even more so than London or New York.”

“I attribute this bold statement to the annual Fringe festival, where hundreds of thousands of artists of all disciplines, from all over the world, gather for a summer in order to share with one another and the general public their art.”

“To be a playwright in this environment, to go through the year preparing to be in the midst of this phenomenon, is truly unique and unmatched.”

“I always say to everyone I meet - if you’re an artist, be it your medium is theatre or not - you have to go to Edinburgh during the Fringe festival at least once in your life. There’s so much to take in, to experience, to learn from and be inspired by.”

I loved that the University of Edinburgh (UoE) campus was right in the middle of it all, that it became transformed as the rest of the city became transformed. To be a UoE student felt to be a part of this living, beating artistic organism.

Francisca Da Silveira on being a student during Edinburgh's summer festivals

Asked about her achievements, Francisca remarks that she’s still trying to wrap her head around all her successes since graduating, including being a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2023 (for Pay No Worship) and nominated for Best New Script award in Boston.

“But really” she says “the biggest achievement has been in the collaborations I’ve made, which is what keeps me going.”

“It’s in finding the people who feel aligned with my vision/mission, people who have just as much stake in the work as I do even though they didn’t write it. People who will be vocal about the industry they want, not the one they have been silently enduring.”

“It’s my fellow artists who are on the rise right alongside me that keep me going and that would be my advice to those who want to enter into this field. Look sideways, not upwards. Create work that feels so authentically you not with those who are trying desperately to hold on to an outdated status quo, but with those who aspire to continue growing.”

Are you interested in our MSc in Playwriting?

Our taught masters programme is a highly practical and immersive introduction to the theatre scene in Edinburgh, Scotland and internationally. It focuses on the craft of writing for performance, and on how a script plays out in real space and time in front of an audience. You’ll be assessed through a combination of portfolio work, essays and your final dissertation - a full-length play. This will be written with the advice of the Programme Director - a professional playwright - and developed through workshops and readings with a professional director and actors.

Find out more and apply for our Playwriting MSc on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder

Related links

Meet our Graduates - Laurie Motherwell (Playwriting)

Meet our Graduates - JD Stewart (Playwriting)

Keep up to date with Francisca on her website [external link]