Olivia Vinall as Hilary in The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard (photo: Johan Persson)
Acclaimed playwright and WGGB member Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem is his first play for stage since Rock ‘n’ Roll in 2006.
Running at the National Theatre until 27 May 2015, its central character Hilary (Olivia Vinall) is a psychology student at Loughborough University, conducting experiments on adult motivation and child behaviour patterns.
Renowned for using drama to explore problems, Stoppard poses questions such as: how does consciousness come about? And how much is human behaviour the product of egoism or altruism?
You can book tickets, and see events running alongside the production, on the National Theatre’s website.
Writer, director and WGGB member Mike Leigh received a BAFTA Fellowship at the Royal Opera House last night (8 February 2015).
Despite his Mr. Turner biopic failing to receive any nominations in the major categories at this year’s awards, presented by Stephen Fry, he said:
“We got four nominations tonight, and you BAFTA are a democratic gang and your taste is your prerogative… What is important to me is that you have awarded me this fellowship for which I am truly grateful… For me this is a sign of your respect for an offbeat, alternative, original, idiosyncratic personal kind of cinema… Pure independent cinema are the filmmakers of the future.”
The Fellowship is the highest accolade bestowed by BAFTA upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games.
Those previously honoured include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker and Helen Mirren.
(Photo: William Gallagher)
Members from the West Midlands Writers’ Guild joined protestors on Saturday (7 February 2015) to protest against proposed cuts to the new, award-winning Library of Birmingham (above).
Only 18 months after opening the £188-million library, Birmingham City Council is planning to cut budgets by £1.5 million. Opening hours will be slashed by 40% and there are plans for 100 staff redundancies.
The West Midlands Writers’ Guild has been campaigning against the cuts since they were announced at the end of last year.
They joined the rally, which took place on National Libraries Day, and saw Birmingham-born poet Benjamin Zephaniah give a message of support. Local musicians, poets and storytellers took part alongside the public, who were invited to attend dressed as their favourite literary character and to share stories of how libraries in the city have made a difference to their lives.
West Midlands Writers’ Guild Chair William Gallagher, talking before the event, said: “It is a rally, it is a protest and it is needed – but it's also been heartening to be in the city as the buzz about it builds. This is going to be a crucial step in our fight to keep the Library of Birmingham yet it is also very much a celebration of something that matters so much to us all."
Watch a video of Writers' Guild Deputy Chair and Birmingham resident Tim Stimpson talking at the rally:
Extensive discussions between the BBC and unions within the Federation of Entertainment Unions over a new policy to address complaints from staff and freelancers over bullying and harrassment have reached a conclusion.
The trade unions and the BBC issued the following statement on Wednesday 4 February 2015.
“The unions (BECTU, Equity, the Musicians’ Union, NUJ, Unite and The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain) and the BBC met on 21st January 2015 as part of on-going discussions about bullying & harassment grievance processes. Agreement has now been reached on a number of additional elements to our proposals, including the involvement of an external expert from the initial grievance through to any subsequent appeal.
"Both the BBC and the unions welcome these agreed changes which are designed to improve the way complaints are handled and how staff and freelancers are supported throughout the process.
"These changes will be implemented as soon as possible allowing time for the detail to be worked through and will be for a trial period of 1 year from implementation, to be reviewed.
"The Bullying and Harassment Grievance Policy and Guide, which apply to staff and freelancers, will be amended to incorporate the agreed changes to the formal procedure and will be published in the near future.”
Discussions with the unions will continue to confirm the timescale for the publication of an amended Bullying and Harrassment Grievance Policy and Guide. The unions will also be consulted over the appointment of the external experts.
Morwenna Banks (right) with presenter Nell Leyshon (photo: BBC)
Writer and actor Morwenna Banks has won the Tinniswood Award 2015 for her audio drama Goodbye, a moving account of a friendship negotiating cancer.
Accepting the award she paid thanks to those who had taken a chance on a “cancer drama with laughs” and said Goodbye was her attempt “to make sense of the death of three friends”.
Set up in memory of English radio and TV comedy scriptwriter Peter Tinniswood, who died in 2003, it is an annual celebration of the best original radio drama script broadcast in the UK.
The 2015 Tinniswood Award was judged by Sue Teddern, Amanda Whittington and Kate Chapman, and presented by dramatist and novelist Nell Leyshon at the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2015 (a full list of the awards, presented by comedian Lenny Henry, can be found on the BBC website).
Introducing the Tinniswood Award, Nell Leyshon said, “radio drama for writers is a very beautiful thing… it has exquisite intimacy. It goes straight into the listeners’ head”.
Shortlisted work was Men Who Sleep in Cars by Michael Symmons Roberts and The Good Listener by Fin Kennedy.
The Tinniswood Award was announced alongside the Society of Authors’ new audio drama Imison Award, this year presented to E.V. Crowe for How to Say Goodbye Properly.
WGGB member Neil Gaiman won a BBC Audio Drama Award for Outstanding Contribution to Radio Drama.
Previous winners of the Tinniswood Award have included Hannah Silva, Colin Teevan, Murray Gold, Mike Bartlett and Rachel Joyce.
Morwenna Banks with BBC Audio Drama Awards host Lenny Henry (photo: BBC)