I’m Carmen D’Cruz, just your typical average queer, brown, neurodiverse, gender fluid, drag performing playwright from a council estate in South London.
I’d just left a two year contract managing a plucky theatre in Brighton after a fairly unromantic career as a digital project manager. A very attractive and intelligent playwright friend of mine encouraged me to sign up for the Wellspring Writers’ programme so I slipped in an application to Vital Xposure alongside sending endless CVs and cover letters to tech recruiters.
Truth be told, I didn’t think I’d get in. Sure, my spreadsheets are beautiful and data tells a story, but that doesn’t mean I’m “creative”, right? And yeah, I love writing creepy modern gothic horror stories, but that doesn’t make me a “writer”, does it?
Oh, apparently it does?
Getting accepted into the Wellspring programme was the first big highlight of the whole programme, but my favourite thing has really been meeting the team, teachers, mentors and the other students, all of whom are wonderful writers. Every week for three months we learned the ins and outs of storytelling, and could ask every conceivable question to a team of professional writers with experience in theatre, film, television and radio. We learned, laughed and wrote together, a few of us cried together, a couple of us climbed together. We shared ideas, writing tips, book recommendations, even spreadsheet templates!
It feels a bit like a broken record to say this in 2022, but I wish the theatre world was more accessible. There’s no shortage of talent but there is a severe shortage of opportunity and it is still overwhelmingly straight, white, male, middle class, able bodied and neurotypical. Simon, Foteini and the Vital Xposure team are working tirelessly to achieve that and I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of this story, and the inevitable future of theatre.
The piece I’m developing for Wellspring is about a young mum who has to save her family from vampires, and is based somewhat loosely on my experiences growing up on a council estate in the 90s. It’s always been frustrating to me that my childhood was the backdrop to TV shows like The Bill and Crimewatch. Even now, my hometown is the poster child for London stabbings. It’s a very narrow story told by a very narrow demographic that serves a dismally narrow purpose. My dream is to be able to showcase the love, hope and humanity that exists in the darkest spaces and the darkest times.
If I could give three bits of advice to anyone looking for professional development support, it’d be to:
- Get friendly with people who write and perform the things you like. They’re likely to understand and appreciate the things you write, and you can support and motivate each other.
- Sign up to theatre mailing lists to get the inside scoop on scratch nights, group readings and open calls.
- Be really nice to Simon and Foteini. They’ve got your back!
Carmen D’ Cruz, Wellspring Writer 2021 – 2022
Carmen is a writer, knitter and drag queen originally from Croydon. They are particularly interested in writing about the magic hidden in the everyday, the ways we step in and out of ourselves, and the liminal spaces of our minds.
Wellspring is Vital Xposure’s professional development programme for London-based disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent playwrights and script writers, funded by City Bridge Trust and delivered in partnership with Paines Plough, Bush theatre, Theatre 503 and Hampstead Theatre.