Elinor Cook – Tutor
Natasha Sutton-Williams – Guest Reader
Guest Reader
25th – 30th June 2018
Course Date

This course will cover initial idea, character, scenes and structure, dialogue.

By the end of the week you should have a range of skills, to help you forge your own approach to playwriting and be inspired to develop your theatrical voice.

Open to beginning writers as well as those with some experience.

Elinor Cook - The Garsdale Retreat

Tutor: Elinor Cook – Playwright

Elinor Cook is the winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright 2013 and a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award 2018.

Her plays include Out of Love (Orange Tree Theatre, Paines Plough Roundabout); The Lady From The Sea (Donmar Warehouse); Pilgrims (HighTide, Theatr Clywd, Yard Theatre); Extra Yarn (Orange Tree Theatre); The Rehearsal (LAMDA); Ten Weeks (Paines Plough / Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama); The Boy Preference (NT Connections) and The Girls Guide To Saving The World (HighTide). She is currently under commission to Audible, Paines Plough and Fiery Angel and is developing an original idea for television with Sister Pictures. She has taught playwrighting at Arvon and as part of the National Theatre’s New Views Programme.

Natasha Sutton-Williams - The Garsdale Retreat

Guest, Wednesday evening: Natasha Sutton-Williams – Playwright/Performer/Singer

Natasha Sutton Williams is a playwright, composer and performer. Her work includes Dead Lucy at Southwark Playhouse, Brasserie Zedel, Waterloo East Theatre, Clown Sex at Arcola Theatre, Bunker Theatre, Angel Comedy Club, Freud The Musical at King’s Head Theatre, Space Theatre, Prone to Mischief at Old Red Lion Theatre, and I AM NOT SICK at the Pleasance. She is a graduate of the West End Criterion Theatre’s new writing programme. She is a member of the Soho Theatre’s Young Writers’ Alumni scheme and has been twice shortlisted for their Young Writers’ Award.

She performed as an actor-musician in Orpheus and Eurydice at the Old Vic Tunnels, London. She was lead singer in the Chaplin Songs Cabaret performed at the Berlin Silent Film Festival, which was also recorded for German radio. She was one of two singers for the National Theatre’s production of Women Beware Women.

She sings early jazz and musical theatre internationally and composes and performs the music for her plays.

Her latest musical More More More, about the rise and fall of TV entertainer Michael Barrymore, will premier at the Vaults Festival in London in March 2018. 

Photo: Steve Ullathorne

PRICES Fee includes all day and evening tutored workshop sessions, readings, accommodation and full board (not including alcohol).

Single – En-suite room £760
Single – Shared bathroom £710
Shared Room (2 Beds) £660
Non-residential (inc. lunch and evening meal) £500

TO BOOK £150 deposit payable on booking by PayPal, bank transfer or cheque, to secure place, balance due six weeks before start of course.
Please see Terms and Conditions.
Accommodation Professional Tutor
Meals Sheets & Towels
Boots/outdoor shoes/trainers suitable for walking on rough paths.
A waterproof jacket or coat.
Warm Clothes
Writing materials: your personal writing preference – laptop, paper, pens etc.
USB memory stick: for printing your work. (We do have air printing)
Musical instruments and drawing/painting materials – sketchbook, pens, pencils, watercolours etc. (optional!)
Drawing/painting materials – sketchbook, pens, pencils, watercolours etc.
Cash: for books written by the tutors, alcohol, taxis or sundries. The nearest cash machine is in Hawes, seven miles away.
START TIME Please arrive between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm on Monday 25th June 2018.
END TIME After breakfast, 10:00 am on Saturday 30th June 2018.
LOCATION The Garsdale Retreat, Clough View, Garsdale Head, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5PW

Nearest station: Garsdale – direct line from Leeds.


The Garsdale Retreat provides an inspiring place to develop as a writer. Our courses offer opportunities for new, emerging and experienced writers. The tutors, all professional writers, lead workshops and also give one-to-one tutorials to help the individual student. In the remote and beautiful setting of The Yorkshire Dales, The Garsdale Retreat gives a wonderful opportunity to escape from the daily stresses of life and to draw inspiration from fellow students, tutors and the landscape itself.
All courses start on Monday afternoon, arrival time 4.00 – 6.00pm and finish after breakfast on Saturday, 10.00am

Course Structure

Although there will be slight variations, according to the type of course, students can generally expect the following outline:

Each day begins with a morning workshop at 9.30am where students explore particular aspects of the chosen genre and take part in writing exercises to further their understanding and expertise. Tutors also write alongside the students, sharing and developing work with participants. The immediacy of hearing or reading an expert’s emerging work gives invaluable insight and inspiration into the art of writing. All students have opportunities to share their work with the tutor and fellow writers in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment in which individual work is respected and confidence developed.
There is a mid-morning coffee break and the session finishes at lunchtime (1.00pm)
After lunch, participants are free to do whatever they like, such as: relax, go for walks, enjoy The Dales, draw, paint, read or work on individual writing projects.
All students have at least one individual tutorial which usually takes place in the early evening after tea and homemade cake.
Each evening there is an after-dinner event. The precise nature of this varies according to the type of course but participants can typically expect a tutor reading on Tuesday followed by a reading from a guest writer on the Wednesday evening. There is an informal activity on Thursday such as a student ‘open-mic’ night, or a tutor devised activity. On Friday, students and tutor take part in a reading of their work from the course-produced anthology.

All courses end after breakfast on Saturday.

Poetry Course Anthology

An integral part of poetry courses is the production of an anthology of writing produced in the week. It is, of course, accepted that work may not be completely polished and there is an element of work-in-progress about it. However, the aim of the anthology is to reflect a flavour of the work accomplished on the course by both tutor and participants and to provide them with an attractive record of their time at Garsdale. The Retreat stores copies of anthologies in the library, providing pleasure and inspiration for future students.

Playwriting Course - The Garsdale Retreat