Sky Studios and Birmingham Repertory Theatre today announce the launch of 'Sky Comedy REP’, a new partnership that aims to discover and develop new regional comedy writing talent from across the UK, particularly from communities that have traditionally been under-represented in the Arts.

The scheme – which opens for entries today and features Dame Julie Walters as Patron – will see nine writers selected to develop a one-act stage play. This year, all the plays will focus around a simple premise: a meeting on a park bench. All nine plays will then be performed at a three-day comedy festival at The REP early next year, featuring up-and-coming actors and emerging directors.

Throughout the six-month programme, writers will be paid for their work and receive one-to-one mentoring from huge names in British Comedy including Meera Syal (Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars), Simon Blackwell (The Thick of It, Veep) Danny Brocklehurst (Brassic, Shameless) and Guz Khan (Man Like Mobeen). The scheme will also include a series of workshops and Masterclasses at The REP featuring insights into all aspects of writing and production.

Based in Birmingham, an international hub that is Europe’s youngest and the UK’s most ethnically diverse city, this partnership between Sky Studios and The REP will offer significant talent development in Comedy, helping new writers, who may not have access to conventional networks, emerge and progress, ultimately benefitting the TV, theatre, film and wider creative industries.

The initiative will be overseen by The REP's Artistic Director, Olivier Award-winning Sean Foley (The Play What I Wrote) and Sky Studios Creative Director of Comedy, BAFTA Award-winning Anil Gupta (Goodness Gracious Me, The Office).

Dame Julie Walters, Patron of Sky Comedy REP, said: "I am honoured to be Patron of this important new initiative to provide a platform for new comedy writing talent. Participants will be given access to some of the very best in the business whilst being given a paid opportunity to develop their skills and materials. I very much look forward to seeing, and enjoying, the final results."

The launch of the project further establishes Sky Studios at the forefront of UK Comedy and The REP as the unofficial 'National Theatre of Comedy’. Working together, the scheme will serve as a training ground for a new generation of narrative comedy writers, directors and actors.

To be eligible, writers must not have had their writing broadcast on television or performed in any theatre above 200 seats in size. For further information on how to submit entries writers can visit: https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/get-involved/creative-development/sky-comedy-rep.html

The deadline for submissions is June 28th 2021.