Quines Writes participants complete six week writing programme

With our Quines Writes programme drawing to a close last week, we wanted to share the participants’ amazing work with you, along with their experiences of taking part.

Quines Writes was a six week programme run in partnership by Stellar Quines, YWCA Scotland – The Young Women’s MovementThe Feminist Fringe and The List. It was created to tackle the gender imbalance in theatre reviewing and feature writing.

From May to June, Quines Writes offered a group of young women the opportunity to develop their skills in writing about theatre and to receive personal development with journalists and critics. Every week they wrote reviews of shows streaming online and interviews with theatre practitioners, all of which were published on The List’s website.

Reviews covered productions by a range of theatre companies including National Theatre, Deafinitely Theatre, Forced Entertainment, Persistent and Nasty, The Old Vic and Gate Theatre; while interviews with theatre professionals included Apphia Campbell (Woke), Jenny Sealey (Graeae Theatre), Finn Den Hertog (A Streetcar Named Desire) and Catrina McHugh (Open Clasp).

The Quines Writes participants were Katie Dibb, Louisa Doyle, Ellen Leslie, Rebecca McIlroy, Carolyn Paterson, Ella Pennycott, Lucy Philip and Eve Simpson.

Read all their reviews and interviews on The List website at these links:

We asked our Quines Writes participants what it was like to take part in the programme. Watch this video to hear from Ellen and Lucy or scroll down to read about Rebecca and Carolyn’s experiences.

Rebecca McIlroy is 22 years old and lives in Glasgow. She has been an avid theatre enthusiast throughout her life and studied acting and performance at college which led to her to become part of a theatre collective. Currently, she is trying to find where she can most benefit the Scottish theatre scene with her work.  

Why did you apply for Quines Writes?
During lockdown I wanted to find a way to connect with theatre and, when I saw the call out Stellar Quines had put out, this inspired me to give reviewing a go. Fixing the gender imbalance in theatre reviewing – reviewing in general at that – starts with opportunities like this.
What have you enjoyed most about the programme?
Over the past two months I have had the absolute joy of being part of the first Quines Writes program. It’s been an invigorating experience for me personally. I was able to push myself by using skills I didn’t usually prioritise. It was also really nice to have a bit of structure!
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt during the programme?
As ever, with new ventures there were a few things to learn along the way. What has stuck with me is approaching each show with kind eyes. It takes a lot to put together a production and you should appreciate that when going to write a review. Personally I’ve learnt to follow my own instincts. I felt most proud of reviews that I wrote when I acknowledged how a piece made me feel and following that thread.
What was your favourite performance you reviewed as part of the programme?
My favourite performance from the past two months has to be Eggs Collective’s Get a Round. It was such a wonderful piece of theatre that I’ve been recommending to everyone. Riotous good fun that I long to see performed live.
What are your plans for the future?
Looking to the future, I am definitely going to keep reviewing. I’ll be making my own blog to post my own reviews and keep making and watching theatre.

Carolyn Paterson is an English Literature graduate from Falkirk. She is currently a Library Assistant and has a background in digital communications and blog writing. In the past few years she has helped various arts and film festivals with content creation and social media.

Why did you apply for Quines Writes?
After spotting an advert for the Quines Writes programme on Creative Scotland, I knew I had to apply. I love Stellar Quines’s work and I was impressed by the other collaborators taking part. I have never written any theatre reviews before so I thought it would be a great way to expand and improve my writing while working on a topic close to my heart.
What have you enjoyed most about the programme?
Quines Writes totally exceeded my expectations. Most of all, I loved being exposed to so many different styles of performance in a short space of time. From archived performances to ground-breaking online projects, each show I watched gave me a chance to be creative and get out of my “cultural comfort zone”. I also found the challenge of trying to find online performances, especially ones which were feminist and intersectional, quite exciting.
What’s best piece of advice you’ve been giving during the programme?
The most important piece of advice I’ve been given over the past six weeks was Ashley Davis’s suggestion to “top and tail” my reviews by linking the first and final lines together. This has given my work a neater, stronger structure and has helped me discuss a play’s social importance. It also helps me get over the fear of a blank page!
What was your favourite performance you reviewed as part of the programme?
Of all the performances I have seen, Made in India (by Tamasha and The Belgrade Theatre in association with Pilot Theatre) has been my favourite. The thought-provoking and emotive drama explores surrogacy in modern-day India. Its brave subject matter and beautiful choreography will stay with me for a long time.
What are your plans for the future?
In the future, I would like to build a career in the Scottish Arts and Cultural sector, ideally in marketing and communications. I believe this project has vastly improved my critical thinking about theatre and has helped me understand the important link between performances and the outside world. I would recommend the Quines Writes programme to anyone with even the slightest interest in theatre, art or culture.