Amount Given:

£300,000 over four years (grant made in 2016)


Supporting emerging talent

Graeae - photo by Patrick Baldwin

Alison Holdom,

Grants Manager, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Graeae has impressed us with its ability to impact on the theatre sector, placing Deaf and disabled actors centre stage and challenging preconceptions. Playwrights and Directors are the key to creating the work that is seen on our stages and through Write to Play, Graeae are working directly with writers, enabling their voice to be heard. This work takes place in theatres across the country, supporting wider sector change.

Kevin Walsh,

Operations Director, Graeae



Deaf and disabled theatre makers are severely underrepresented in the theatre sector, and physical and attitudinal barriers mean that existing training initiatives and conventional career avenues are not always accessible. With Esmée support, Graeae and our partners are providing a much-needed platform for Deaf and disabled writers, directors and theatre makers nationwide to develop their skills and experience in a supported, inclusive and accessible environment. In the last four years alone, we have developed 20 writers through our flagship new writing programme, Write to Play, and a further 27 through development schemes, Play Labs and Playchats. Two writers have gone on to receive full commissions, and many more are forging ahead with their writing careers. With programmes such as Write to Play, we are paving the way for the next generation of Deaf and disabled theatre makers to take centre stage.

 As well as offering high quality training to writers to ensure the UK theatre sector is programming and commissioning world class new writing by Deaf and disabled playwrights, we also aim to provide specialist training for our partner organisations to inspire and initiate sector change more broadly. Partnering with leading new writing theatres across the UK, our long-term aim is to work alongside our partners to provoke an attitudinal shift that will lead to all aspects of mainstream theatre venues being accessible to all and therefore, to greater diversity across the sector. By significantly influencing the policies and practices of our partner organisations, we will increase opportunities for Deaf and disabled writers now and into the future.

Tom Wentworth,

Write to Play Alumni



Write To Play provided an excellent opportunity to work with a company who I greatly admire. It has resulted in one full length spec script and alongside an ongoing relationship with the company, a commission for a new play. That was my main aim from Write To Play which has been achieved. It has also connected me further with the London theatre scene - including being selected for other schemes such as at Battersea Arts Centre.

The Programme is highly regarded within the industry and so I wear my status as a 'graduate' with immense pride.

Write To Play gave me the confidence to take on more responsibility and helped me to go freelance to write full time. Also, I gained an agent and I am now chairing National Theatre Wales' TEAM Panel which I hope has a positive impact on the local community.