As you may know, Pint-Sized gives feedback to any writer who sends us their work for the festival and identifies as:
A person of colour
Working-class or under-class
D/deaf and disabled
Learning disabled and neurodivergent
We wanted to explain a little bit about why we do this.
Why don’t we give everyone feedback?
We should start by saying that we'd love to give everyone feedback, and it disappoints us that we can't. We really appreciate how much work each and every writer puts into their entry, and we want to acknowledge that - that's why everyone gets an individual reply to let them know we've received their work, and another email to let them know if their work has been chosen.
There are only two of us, and we don't get paid, so we're not in a position to give feedback to more than 1,500 writers each year. That doesn't mean we don't respect and appreciate the work of all those writers.
How did we choose to whom we give feedback?
Knowing that we couldn’t offer feedback to everyone, we decided to offer feedback to writers from underrepresented groups so that we could help correct some ways in which the system is unbalanced.
Lack of representation matters. Getting to tell your own story is a powerful thing - having other people tell your story inaccurately without your input is a damaging one.
No-one telling your story at all is damaging in a different way - there are millions of children in the UK who grow up not regularly seeing someone who looks like them on TV, in films, in their books, and on their stages. There’s a reason that Black Panther sold so well, and it’s not just because people were excited about vibranium.
People from underrepresented groups are less likely to receive feedback and support early in their careers. There are lots of reasons for this, but we hear repeatedly that it's harder for writers from marginalised communities to escape the 'emerging' bubble, in part because they're often getting less support.
Theatres don’t always feel like a welcoming place to someone from a marginalised community. Sometimes we need to make it really clear that we want everyone’s work, and that if you haven’t felt welcome before, we want to be in your corner. That’s why we put the feedback offer in our initial callout, to try, imperfectly and incompletely, to encourage everyone to be a part of what we do.
Is this unfair?
We ask everyone to apply because we want the best work - we don't discriminate when choosing which scripts are in the festival, and which writers are on our longlist. No-one loses out because of this policy - it's an additional offer.
We use the principle of equity – that some people aren’t offered as many opportunities as others, and that we have a duty to help correct that imbalance. We think that if you treat everyone equally, then the unequal system we live in already will continue to exist.
We do know that these umbrella terms are generalised, and we’re not saying that people who don’t belong to these communities can’t have struggled, or are less deserving of feedback and support. We know there will be people who fall through the gaps of this policy, and who need support. It is, for the moment, an attempt to redress an unfair system, and we appreciate any thoughts on how we could be doing better.