An Equity Charitable Trust funded project
Good News Story
In 2012 I walked into the University of Birmingham and took a class in playwriting. I remember sitting in this room, in a class where the likes of Sarah Kane and Steve Water’s had gone before and thinking ‘I’m really in trouble here because not only do I feel like a person who is not clever enough to be doing this, but I have no money to do it either!’.
I had been accepted onto the MRES (master of research) in Playwriting at Birmingham, based on my theatre degree and a play that I had written called Pasiphae and the Bull. Now don’t get me wrong Pasiphae and the Bull was a brave attempt to re-work the Myth of the Minotaur from a female perspective. But it did lack a little structure and when I was accepted on the course I thought ‘How the hell can I not do this? I need to learn how to structure my playwriting and I’m hungry to learn more about the theory behind it. I need to do this!’
Aunty Sue (family friend and generally amazing woman) was stood in my busy kitchen (teenage daughter, foreign students, washing up etc... etc...general chaos!). Well, there I am crying out ‘I’ve got no bloody money and I’ve got onto the amazing course and and ... argh!’. Sue said very calmly ‘Look Rach, I’ve seen this advert for the Equity Charitable Foundation and I think you should apply’. I thought about it, and was sure that I wouldn't fit the criteria for it. But after doing a little research on the website it seemed that I might be in with a chance.
I applied. But I hadn’t heard about my application and the term had already started. So I just turned up for the course. Thinking that I was either going to end up in debt and having to leave the course or be found out and humiliated for not being clever enough to undertake this high level of studying! Or possibly both.
Well, a week into my course. I got home absolutely knackered but elated by being surrounded by like minded people and sponging up the first lectures on format and structure as well as having read Mamet’s Oleanna and been blown away by it. I got home, sat at my kitchen desk and opened my emails. I had a letter from the Equity Charitable Trust. They had awarded me the full fees for my course. I cannot begin to tell you how good that felt. Not just the relief but also they clearly had some faith in my ability to complete such an intense course.
It’s a year and a half later – my final thesis took a little bit longer to complete due to a bereavement and I spent much of the first year answering phones in a very grotty 1980's throwback taxi office to pay my train fares. But I did it! I have learnt so much from the course; it’s been a phenomenal journey. I’m not saying that there weren’t times when I didn’t feel stupid. I remember being sat in one lecture and thinking ‘What am I doing here? I’m just a single mum who wants to write plays. I don’t fit in with the boy’s school’. But that’s more to do with my own self esteem and of course the way our media portrays women like me – so what we are told we are capable of doing generally doesn't surmount to what we are capable of doing. I'm working on it!
I've been awarded my MRES in Playwriting. And I can honestly tell you that it would not have been possible without an Equity Re-training and Education Bursary. It’s so important to be a part of this union. That’s my good news story. I hope that it is of great comfort to know that this union does give back to its members.