PLAYGROUND is a new venture by Accidental & Down Arts Centre, giving writers space & time to explore play-making. Through alternative writing bootcamps, scratch performances & playwriting classes, we’re cracking open a space for theatrical experimentation & creative risk-taking. 

The PLAYGROUND pilot in Downpatrick has been a wild & fearless success & we’re keen to bring it to other venues around the province. Here’s what we’ve done so far — & inklings about what we might do in the future. (Hint: We’d love to travel & build more playgrounds.)

Pilot funded by Down Arts Centre

Playgrounds of Central Park.jpg



Performance on stage is alive & active; it may start from a piece of text, but theatre isn’t a written form. This is Not a Writing Class: Making Plays focuses on visual & physical storytelling skills for playwrights. Each workshop will zero in on different aspects of scripts (ideas & concepts, dialogue & action, production, other medias like film & radio). Writers will experiment with form, springboard new work and have a chance to revisit their own scripts in progress. 

We suggest this class for first-time and early-career scriptwriters aged 16+. We can tailor it for younger writers, or to fit within a programme of other venue-specific workshops. 




In bootcamps, Accidental assemble a brave posse of writers to experiment with forms & facets of theatre that have their genesis off the page. During bootcamp, writers will stretch out of their comfort zones, attempting the unorthodox & unexpected. They’ll see examples of plays from companies around the world, work in alternative formats (like devised theatre, clowning, design, and one-to-one performance), and learn to craft performances in a more hands-on, experience-led way. Our facilitators are often working exclusively with writers for the first time too, so we’ve broken some significantly new ground together — for example, playwright-centred workshops in bouffon & Chekhov Technique. Campers (& ‘counsellors’) leave with a fresh perspective on what performance means — and what it can be.

This workshop is most useful for writers 18+ who have an existing practice they can return to, armed with novel insights. It’s geared toward theatre-makers, but writers of any form are welcome: Poets, novelists and songwriters have loved Playwrights’ Bootcamps too.




Theatre can’t happen without an audience — & for scratch performances, they’re the most important ingredient. Scratch nights (performances of works-in-progress) began at Battersea Art Centre in London & now happen all over the world. Artists have a chance to take risks, truly play, test the waters with brave ideas & talk openly with audiences. It’s a rare chance to connect the stage and the stalls. 

PLAYGROUND plunges audiences into the play-making mix too. To prepare for scratch night, we work closely with three playwrights to bring early versions of fascinating & vivid pieces of writing to the stage. First we devote time to excavating the main ideas and story, and then work with the writer and a group of actors to create first-draft performances of the pieces. At SALTY & SWEET, the public scratch performance of the new plays, we have a talkback with the audience — a chance to share ideas & reactions. Everyone’s welcome, from theatre buffs to first-timers. Expect an evening of eye-opening theatre & laid-back conversation. Plus popcorn.



What more support could we offer to scriptwriters & theatre-makers? Plenty. Get in touch if you have ideas we can help kick-start, or if you want Accidental to make a bespoke PLAYGROUND project for your organisation or venue. We’ve got experience with things like:

  • Immersive theatre
  • Film storytelling
  • Verbatim plays
  • Fast & Loose (24-hour plays)
  • Mini-festivals
  • One-to-one theatre
  • Improvisation

The main idea is to generate new performances around the province. We’re excited to hear more ideas. Over to you …