Playwriting supported by the Lionel Bart Foundation - Winner 2014
Alice Birch was actively involved in writing plays while still an under-graduate at Exeter University. Between 2005 – 7, she joined the Royal Court’s Young Writers’ Programme, and on graduating in 2009, joined writing schemes at the National Theatre and Royal Court. Even though playwriting was central she recently expanded into film, television and radio plays.
In 2010, Birch received an attachment at the National Theatre, presented scripts and ideas at Theatre 503, Arcola, the Old Vic as part of the 24 Hour Plays Project and with Paines Plough, writing alongside celebrated and emerging writers, about the influence of their home towns on their adulthood.
Birch’s themes are broad-ranging but strongly connected with social and political situations and particularly stories around the painful and brutalized lives of women and children. Her first full-length play, “Many Moons,” was performed at Theatre 503 in 2011. The script which is now published covers child abuse. It is delivered through four actors on an almost bare stage, their intense and overlapping monologues building into dramatic verbal collisions. Birch is working with RashDash on two projects - one that explores the porn industry and one developed with West Yorkshire Playhouse that looks at Women and War. Recently, Birch ran workshops with women working in the sex industry and wrote a play based on their experiences. The women, who also took photography workshops, had their work exhibited during the play.
A constant reference to Birch’s work is it meticulousness in whichever medium she works, and the richness of her poetic and vivid dialogues. The balance between witty humour and frightening tensions forms part of her identity. With a family background in psychoanalysis, she draws on methods to understand people who will become her characters. “I work until I know that I could put them into any situation and know their responses as well as I know my own,” she says.