A new theatre festival is coming to Hull, presented by Middle Child

A new theatre festival showcasing plays by local writers is coming to Hull next summer.

Photo by Tom Arran

Fresh Ink: Hull Playwriting Festival will become an annual platform for writers from Hull to create and develop new plays in the city.

Performances will take place at venues across the Fruit Market, including Stage @TheDock, over one weekend in late-July.

The festival is the brainchild of Hull theatre company, Middle Child, and is inspired by “scratch” nights, where early drafts of new plays are shared for the first time.

Six new plays of varying lengths will be commissioned for the inaugural festival in 2024, with applications now open to writers with a link to Hull.

Middle Child artistic director and chief executive, Paul Smith, says that the festival will become a “playground” for artists and audiences to come together.

“I cannot think of a better place for a new playwriting festival than our home, Hull, a place packed with creative talent,” he said.

“Writing is in the very fabric of the city and we’re excited to create this new playground for voices known and unknown over the coming years. We know first-hand the joys of Hull audiences, their passionate support for new ideas, and their confidence to say what they think.

“These qualities fill us with anticipation for the moment these new plays are spoken aloud for the first time, as Fresh Ink is all about collaboration and a city coming together to tell new stories and explore new possibilities. It’s a chance to really invest in people living and working here, showing that we all play a role in creating brilliant art – whether as an artist or as an audience member.

“We can’t wait to bring Fresh Inkto life and are confident that the festival will soon establish itself as a space for all of us to wrestle with big ideas which help us better understand our city and the people who live here.”

Fresh Ink will give theatre fans the chance to go behind the scenes and see plays in their early stages, before they become full productions.

Audiences will get to speak with writers and directors after each show, as well as take part in various “give-it-a-go” theatre workshops.

The six commissions up for grabs include two 15-minute pieces, two 30-minute plays and two more up to 70 minutes.

Writers with a link to Hull are invited to apply for one of the commissions, with a new idea, before the deadline of Monday 8 January 2024.

This first festival in 2024 will be a pilot, so Middle Child can learn what works best and improve on it for the following years.

Paul Smith added: “All of this is only possible thanks to the incredible support of our founding partners Wykeland, who are funding the first three years, and the J F Brignall Charitable Trust, who are funding the first two years of this exciting new event.

“Working with these brilliant local partners has already been incredibly liberating, as both demonstrate a genuine desire to make Hull a better place to live, work and play, and we thank them for their trust and support in making this dream a reality.”

Dominic Gibbons, managing director of Hull-based Wykeland Group, said: “Wykeland Group is incredibly proud to be a founding partner and funder of Fresh Ink. We’re wholeheartedly committed to supporting culture and the arts in Hull, as we recognise the crucial role it has to play in the regeneration of the city and the surrounding area.

“Wykeland Group supports a wide range of cultural organisations and events because they are a huge economic driver and important drivers for the Place agenda. Fresh Ink will be a welcome addition to Hull’s already impressive calendar of cultural events, giving talented emerging writers a platform to shine.

“We’re very much looking forward to the inaugural event in the summer of 2024 and helping the festival grow and develop in the coming years.”

The commissioned writers will be revealed at the Middle Child season launch in March 2024.

The full festival programme will be finalised, with tickets going on sale, by June 2024.

Visit middlechildtheatre.co.uk/fresh-ink for more information about the festival, including how to apply for a commission.