Plymouth playwright Laura Horton has been in post as Laureate of Words since January. During that time, she's been meeting people across Plymouth, making connections and beginning to tell the stories of the city.
Laura is the first woman to undertake the laureateship for the city and the first Laureate of Words more broadly in any city across the UK. Across her laureateship, Laura will be supported by Literature works’ creative partnership with Plymouth Culture and The Box to engage with the city in a range of ways to encourage communities to share their stories.
This month, we asked Laura to tell us a bit more about what she’s been doing and some of the exciting work she’s got coming up.
It’s my third month as Plymouth Laureate of Words and I’m already swimming in a sea of ideas for things I want to write and do over the next two years.
I’ve had some really galvanising and exciting meetings already and I start my first project next week. I approached Millfields Inspired, a social enterprise in Stonehouse, with the idea of working with children in primary schools to hopefully inspire some creative writing and possibly even some future playwrights. I Zoom into classes next week to talk to them about my role and set them the task of each writing 1-2 minute plays. I thought it would be more powerful for them to write and hear their own words read out by actors. As a very shy child I know my voice would’ve been lost in a group activity. I’ll be engaging local actors, filming the short plays and sharing them online in May. I’ll be honest, I can’t wait for a time I can physically go into schools, but this feels like a really positive first step.
This week I’ve been involved in conversations about Mayflower 400, picking up projects that were thwarted last year. I was interviewed with Laureates from Plymouth Massachusetts, US and from Leiden, Holland. We read work and spoke about what inspires our writing. The interview will be online in the coming weeks. I’ve also had some great conversations with The Box about the potential to delve into their archives to explore Plymouth history further.
My other preoccupation this month has been with Blitz 80. In January I wrote my first commission, ‘Roll Out Plymouth’, about people during the Blitz. I found a really evocative photograph of Plymouth residents singing around a piano in the middle of a bombed street, and responded to that. I wanted to write something that imagined the people at the heart of that photograph, where they found their resolve to have a sing-along after such a traumatic experience. On Tuesday evening I was filmed reading an extract of ‘Roll Out Plymouth’ at the Civilian Memorial for PL1, that will be up online over the next few weeks. I did interviews for BBC Radio Cornwall and ITV Westcountry (airing with the evening news Friday 19th March) too and on 6th April I’ll be joining MP Luke Pollard on his Facebook page live from 7.30pm to read out the piece. It feels poignant to be reflecting on a period of history where people pulled together in a time of crisis.