Professional Writers’ Programme

In January 2017 Yellow Earth launched a two year Professional Writers’ Programme for writers of East Asian* descent.

Four early career writers have been selected to take part in this intensive new two year programme with the aim of developing at least one play for the company to produce. The programme is for writers of drama of East Asian* descent who have a new idea for theatre. This programme will support the development of their ideas and craft by providing support from industry experts and will be led by playwright and dramaturg Caroline Jester.

Selected writers for 2017 are Kyo Choi, Joanne Lau, Amy Ng and Julie Tsang.

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Kyo Choi

“A writer’s life is ridden with doubt; about one’s talent, voice, originality and if the chosen subject matter is of interest to anyone but the writer. Being selected for this writing programme is something of a liberation for me, a validation that my writing has merit. I feel immensely supported by the group, by Yellow Earth, and this has given me the confidence to write my play with conviction. The group and individual tutoring over a two-year period, the generous seed commission means that I will have the time to mould the play into the best possible form. My hope that I will see it performed on stage feels achievable.”

Kyo Choi is from South Korea. Her first job was as a Far East correspondent for Reuters and she travelled extensively in Asia reporting on human interest and financial news. She enrolled in the MA Creative Writing at the Royal Holloway, University of London, graduating with a Distinction in 2009. Her first play, Empowered, was selected for Arcola Theatre’s PlayWrought new writing and performed as a staged reading in February 2016. Empowered was long-listed for Papatango’s New Writing Prize.  She has also written a literary novel, The Love Hotel.

Joanne Lau

“I’d had an idea for a Chinese family drama brewing in the back of my brain for a while and when I saw this programme I leapt at the chance as I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to develop and tell this story. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something that passionately supports East Asian voices and am excited about what my fellow writers and I will produce over the next two years!”

Joanne Lau is a Canadian-Chinese screenwriter based in the UK.  She was an award-winning stand-up comedian on the UK circuit for 6 years before swapping her mic for a pen in 2013. Since then she has been a finalist in the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum for TV DramaCinequest Teleplay 60, Funny Women Comedy Writing Awards, and Sitcom Mission. In 2015, Joanne was chosen to take part in the BBC Writersroom Comedy Room out of over 2000 entries. She is a writer for CBBC’s Class Dismissed, and has a short film in production for the ArtsEd New Writing Project 2016.

Amy Ng

“I am very grateful to Yellow Earth for seed-commissioning my play on Thatcher in China, for the luxury of time (2 years development) and an experienced dramaturg, Caroline Jester, to give dramatic form to such a complex and ambitious subject. As an East Asian artist in Britain, it is imperative to have a theatrical community which understands why East Asian themes matter.”

Playwright and historian Amy Ng was born in Australia, grew up in Hong Kong, and was educated at Yale University and at Balliol College, Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.  Amy is an alumni of the Royal Court Theatre’s Critical Mass writers’ programme and the BBC Writersroom, and has just been named on the BBC 2017 New Talent Hotlist. Her play Shangri-La, a satire, was developed at the Tricycle Theatre and premiered at the Finborough Theatre in 2016.  Arts Council England supported Acceptance received a sold-out staged reading in 2015 at the Finborough Theatre. Her short plays have been performed at the Soho Theatre, St. James Theatre, Arcola Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Richmix.  She has also received a pilot commission from BBC Radio 3 for a monologue on Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Julie Tsang

“This professional writing programme with Yellow Earth Theatre is giving me the opportunity to create and share my work with BEA artists outside of Scotland. It allows the time and space to develop a play that connects me to my Chinese roots for which I am grateful for.”

Julie Tsang is a writer from Glasgow. She was mentored on the New Playwrights’ Programme with the Playwrights Studio Scotland in 2012. Her recent credits include Troon at Theatre 503 in London and I’m with Chico at the Tron theatre in Glasgow. Her plays have also been adapted for film and her recent play Run is currently in post-production. Julie was shortlisted for the New Short Play Award with Cumbernauld Theatre in Scotland and made the final in The Progressive Playwright Award at the Tron Theatre in 2015. Julie is a facilitator for Stage to Page, a monthly new-writing event.


Writers will benefit from a seed commission of £2,000 per writer to include all travel and expenses. They will attend writing workshops held at Soho Theatre, dramaturgy meetings, masterclasses, industry networks, development workshops with actors and directors and Public Readings.

Writers were asked to submit an outline and a sample scene for the new play they would like to work on if selected for this programme.

The Professional Writers’ Programme is open to all writers of East Asian* descent from across the UK and all applicants must eligible to live and work in the UK.

Caroline Jester was Dramaturg and Literary Manager at Birmingham Repertory Theatre for a number of years and is a Fellow of The Institute of Creative and Critical Writing (BCU) and a Master on the MA in Dramatic Writing, Central Saint Martins. Publications include ‘Playwriting Across the Curriculum’ (Routledge), ‘Europa’ (Methuen), ‘Playwrights on their Craft UK/US’ (Methuen Drama, Bloomsbury 2017). She has worked with writers at all stages of their careers and as Dramaturg on numerous productions in the UK and abroad. She has developed playwriting programmes internationally including Singapore, US, Denmark, Poland, Croatia, Italy and Germany.

*East Asia includes the following countries: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and their Diasporas.

This programme is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Arts Council England and Soho Theatre