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Female-focused new writing company the Coterie launches

Caitlin McLeod Caitlin McLeod
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A new theatre company with a focus on nurturing female playwrights has been launched.

Created by director Caitlin McLeod, the Coterie will initially focus on commissioning three new plays by women over a period of a year and a half, to allow time for the scripts to be fully developed.

The works will then be staged either independently or with partner theatres.

McLeod said the idea was born out of a frustration she felt as a director, that the industry was too focused on “product rather than process”.

“I was champing at the bit to practise what I believe to be my craft, but as we’re all experiencing today, institutions are financially strapped and there’s very little space and time for emerging artists to find their voice, especially if that voice is off the wall,” she told The Stage.

She added: “I feel there’s a real danger we’re going to lose these voices without practical support. I’m seeing so many extraordinary artists and peers drop away from theatre because they can’t financially or mentally stay in a game that’s hard-wired towards product rather than process.”

McLeod said there needed to be more support for writers and directors, particularly for women and black, Asian and minority ethnic artists.

“There are great advances in the gender-parity movement across the board but we can’t leave it in shallow waters. We have to actively commit to supporting these writers and their arts,” she added.

McLeod will work with the three playwrights selected, as well as creating a wider group of associate performers, choreographers, composers and designers to feed into the process.

The Coterie is launching thanks to a £30,000 Sky Academy arts scholarship. McLeod was one of five winners in 2016 to be awarded the prize, which also includes mentoring.

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