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A writing and teaching skills development week for theatre, poetry and performance practitioners

Monday 4th – Saturday 9th December 2017

Lumb Bank, The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

Are you a writer based in the North of England? Are you interested in working with communities? Do you want to develop skills in facilitating writing for theatre, poetry or performance?

This residential week is an exciting opportunity to focus on your own writing practice alongside developing your skills as a workshop leader and facilitator of writing for theatre, poetry or performance.

The course will offer a combination of writing workshops aimed at generating new work of your own and sessions focused on developing your skills as a creative writing teacher and facilitator. There will be workshops, group activities, one-to-one tutorials and some time for personal writing.

The week will be led by Amanda Dalton and Jacob Sam-La Rose, who have each tutored many Arvon weeks, and who are among the most inspirational and widely-experienced creative writing tutors and facilitators in the country, with Louise Wallwein as the guest reader on the Wednesday evening.

The structure of the week will be flexible enough for the group to shape elements of it according to need. Sessions are likely to include such topics as:

  • Getting started: holding a space
  • Ideas for first workshops
  • Understanding frameworks for inclusive practice
  • Responding to learning styles within a group
  • Working in schools and communities
  • Writing by not writing: ways in with reluctant participants
  • Design and evaluation – shaping projects
  • The dynamics between writing and teaching


Amanda Dalton is a poet and playwright, theatre artist and educator. She is currently Associate Artist at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, a Visiting Teaching Fellow (poetry and script) at MMU’s Writing School, and a freelance writer, consultant and creative writing facilitator. Her most recent poetry collection is Stray (Bloodaxe Books 2012), and her recent drama credits include the award winning ensemble piece Nothing for the Royal Exchange Theatre’s Young Company, radical adaptations of the silent films The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and  Nosferatu  for BBC Radio 3. Amanda has a strong track record in the fields of Education and Creative Arts, as a deputy headteacher in comprehensive schools and as a senior leader at the Royal Exchange Theatre where she led and developed, over 18 years, the theatre’s extensive programme of community engagement and participation.

Jacob Sam-La Rose’s poetry has been described as “vivid, masterly and carefully structured”. His collection Breaking Silence was shortlisted for both a Forward Poetry prize and the Aldeburgh Fenton award, and is a set text for the OCR English Language and Literature A-Level (EMC). He is widely recognised as a facilitator, mentor and supporter of young and emerging poets, and is responsible for the Barbican Young Poets programme and the Spoken Word Education Programme (Goldsmiths University). His practice also includes cross-disciplinary collaboration, exploring poetry in conjunction with technology, physical theatre and conceptual art.


Louise Wallwein is a poet, performer, playwright and filmmaker. Her work has been produced by Contact, The Royal Exchange, Sydney Opera House, Red Ladder, Sheffield Crucible and BBC Radio. She has worked locally and internationally, deploying her skills as a poet to connect people to their voices.


This residential week is open to writers who are based in the North of England and who have a strong desire to develop their skills in facilitation and the teaching of creative writing. They must have:

  • A genuine interest in working with schools and/or communities
  • A commitment to develop their socially engaged practice facilitating theatre, poetry and performance projects with marginalised and underrepresented groups
  • A willingness to learn and a commitment to reflecting on their practice
  • An appreciation/understanding of creativity and the creative process and a genuine interest in how to support others to develop their creativity and writing
  • A commitment to diversity and inclusive practice

The course focuses on developing skills in facilitating writing for theatre, poetry or performance. We are particularly keen to hear from writers from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups.

Cost: £500 per person (includes four nights’ accommodation, meals & all workshops and support). As with all Arvon residentials, you will be living and writing with up to 15 other participants in our Lumb Bank writing centre, and you will be expected to cook and wash up one night out of the week, in a group of up to 4, with the support of our staff team.

A number of discounted or funded places are available; if you are interested in taking part but are unable to pay the full cost, please get in contact.

How to apply

To apply please send the following information:

  • Nomination or sample of writing: Please give contact details (phone and email) for an individual who can nominate you for this course, from an organisation that has supported your writing development, OR alternatively you can send up to 5 sides of A4 of your creative writing or equivalent length video.
  • Contact details: Your full name, postal address and email address. You will also need to confirm that you are free and able to attend the course from 4.30pm on Monday 4th December to 10am on Saturday 9 December. Please be sure to let us know whether on not you have any additional access requirements.
  • Personal statement: Up to 500 words, telling us a little about yourself, and explaining what you hope to get from the course, both for your own writing and for developing your own skills as a workshop leader.

Please send your application by email to by 5pm on Monday 30 October 2017. All applicants will be contacted by email to confirm their place by Fri 3 November 2017. If you have any questions about the course, do get in touch with Becky Swain, Arvon’s Head of Learning and Participation, by email on or by phone on 0207 324 2562.


Some feedback from professional writers who participated in previous professional development courses at Arvon:

“This course has given me far more confidence and expanded my writing tutor toolbox significantly. Formal and informal skill-sharing have been fantastic. I will take so much good practice back home with me.”

“It was a wonderfully supportive, nurturing, creative and enjoyable experience. I go away more centred as a writer and more confident and inventive as a teacher.”

A note on the title

“The fire i’ the flint/Shows not till it be struck” – so says the Poet in Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. In his memoir The Founding of Arvon, poet and co-founder John Moat calls this line ‘Arvon’s adopted superscription’, and it now adorns an engraved slate in the garden at Lumb Bank. As Moat says later in those pages, ‘…the fire this referred to was that of the individual’s imagination – [and] the key to its unlocking was an act of genuine education. The fire was, in other words, universally and individually of transforming and formative power.’