Welcome to Season 4 (2024-25)

Positive Stories for Negative Times is an international participatory project by Wonder Fools in association with the Traverse Theatre. Season 4 is all about opening up exciting cultural opportunities, boosting the self-confidence of participants and changing the way we think about theatre for young people. 

We have co-commissioned some of the most exciting voices in theatre to create new work for those between the ages of 6 and 25. Artists this season include Ella Hickson, Adura Onashile, Travis Alabanza, James Ley, Mammalian Diving Reflex, and Young Writer Hannah Low. The plays are written specifically for the times we are living in and will be available to participating groups from September 2024 to September 2025.

Participation is completely free, and you can choose to perform the plays in your local communities, create digital responses, or travel to one of our Positive Stories Festivals in Scotland (to be announced in August 2024). This season continues our mission to provide equitable access to high-quality new writing and professional support, ensuring young people feel authentically represented in the arts. Join us in this unique opportunity to explore and express the creativity of young people through innovative theatre.

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participating groups

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young people

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plays commissioned

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% of leaders reported that their groups had developed new skills (Season 3)

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% of leaders felt PSFNT had increased their young people's access to culture (Season 3)

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% of young people felt more confident participating in drama activities (Season 3)

Testimonials

“I didn’t have anything like this, there wasn’t anything like this, there was nothing in Bognor Regis but there was definitely not this, there should be this happening in every town, in every school and in every possible place really.”

Tim Crouch 

“I would do it all over again, any time, a million times over, I would do it every day if I could!”

PSFNT participant

“One of the most vibrant young companies to emerge onto the Scottish theatre scene in recent years”

The Scotsman, 2021

The Writers

We are delighted to announce the writers of the six new Positive Stories plays for Season 4. They will collaborate directly with our Youth Board over the coming months to create brand-new plays for you to work on. The plays will be free to access from September 2024.

Ella Hickson

Ella Hickson is an award-winning playwright whose work has been performed throughout the UK and internationally. Ella’s theatre credits include ‘Adult Children’ (2021) a VR piece for the Donmar co-created with Sacha Wares in association with ETT, Scanlab Projects and Trial and Error Studios, ‘Swive’ (2019) at The Globe, ‘Anna’ (2019) at the National Theatre, ‘The Writer’ (2018) and ‘Oil’ (2016) at The Almeida Theatre, and ‘Wendy and Peter Pan’ (2015) at The Royal Shakespeare Company. She is a member of the Royal Society of Literature, a Thornton Wilder Fellow, and a MacDowell Colony Fellow, as well as a recipient of The Catherine Johnson Award. Ella is an Associate Artist of The Old Vic.

Adura Onashile

2021 Screen Daily Star of Tomorrow, Adura Onashile is an emerging British-Nigerian writer, director & playwright, based in Glasgow. Her debut feature film is GIRL, a relationship drama inspired by Adura’s experiences growing up with her mother in the UK in the 1980s, is produced by Glasgow outfit Barry Crerar, with support from BBC Film, BFI and Screen Scotland. Her short film, EXPENSIVE SHIT, about a Nigerian toilet attendant in the bathroom of a Scottish nightclub, is adapted from her own play, and premiered at the 2020 BFI London Film Festival before going on to be nominated for a BAFTA in 2021. Adura has had scripted commissions from Hera Pictures, Two Rivers, and Synchronicity. She is currently developing Jacqueline Roy’s critically acclaimed novel THE GOSLING GIRL as a TV series with Green Acre Films. Her stage work has led to her being nominated for an Alfred Fagon award and in 2018 she was the recipient of the Channel 4 Playwrights Bursary in association with the Traverse Theatre.

James Ley

James Ley is an award winning writer living in Glasgow. He wrote and directed Ode to Joy (How Gordon got to go to the nasty pig party) winner of a Scotsman Fringe First in 2022 and nominated for a CATS Award 2023 (Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland) for Best New Play. James was co-writer with Damian Barr on Maggie & Me (National Theatre of Scotland). His other plays include Wilf (Traverse Theatre) and Love Song to Lavender Menace (Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Summerhall, SoHo Playhouse, New York). James is under commission to Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Wonder Fools. A BBC Writersroom Scottish Voices 2022/2023 and Edinburgh Film Festival Talent Lab alumni, James has written a feature adaptation of Love Song to Lavender Menace, in development with Compact Pictures. He is currently developing his gay action comedy short film Sleazy Tiger with Short Circuit through the Sharp Shorts scheme. He has just been awarded First Feature funding from Short Circuit to adapt Ode to Joy into his first feature as writer/director.

Mammalian Diving Reflex

Based in Canada, Mammalian Diving Reflex views innovative artistic interventions as a way to trigger generosity and equity across the universe. Founded by Artistic Director, Darren O’Donnell in 1993, Mammalian is a research-art atelier dedicated to investigating the social sphere, always on the lookout for contradictions to whip into aesthetically scintillating experiences. We are a culture production workshop that creates site and social-specific performances, theatre-based productions, gallery participatory gallery installations, videos, art objects and theoretical texts. Mammalian’s body of work is interconnected, varied and vibrant, reflecting our unique and growing body of knowledge and expertise on the use and function of culture. We create work that recognizes the social responsibility of art, fostering a dialogue between audience members, between the audience and the material, and between the performers and the audience. In all its forms, the company’s work dismantles barriers between individuals of all ages and cultural, economic and social backgrounds; we collaborate with non-artists and offer both participatory opportunities for the audience as well as the traditional option of simply watching the proceedings as they unfold. It is our mission to bring people together in new and unusual ways, in Toronto, Canada, our home-base, and around the world, to create work that is engaging, challenging, and gets people talking, thinking and feeling.

Travis Alabanza

Travis is a writer, performer and theatre maker from Bristol.

For stage, Travis wrote and performed in their debut show Burgerz which won the Total Theatre Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, sold out at Southbank Centre and Traverse Theatre and toured internationally. It was also voted one of The Guardian Readers Top Shows of The Year. The text is published by Oberon Books. Their play Overflow, which premiered at and streamed from The Bush, was met with critical acclaim including numerous four-star reviews and was shortlisted for the George Devine Award. Their latest theatre commission, Sound of the Underground, premiered as part of the Royal Court’s new season in 2023 to critical acclaim. Travis currently has a new show for stage in development with the Southbank Centre and Hackney Showrooms. For screen, Travis is developing projects with Lookout Point and See Saw.

Travis’ debut book None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary was published in 2022 by Canongate and in the US by Feminist Press in 2023. It won the Jhalak Literary Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and was listed in TIME Magazine’s 100 books of 2023.

Their work has also earned them a place on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list 2021, the Dazed100 list and in 2023 as an Evening Standard’s future stars of stage and screen.

Hannah Low (Young Writer Commission)

Hannah is a Chinese-Scottish writer, actor and youth theatre practitioner based in Edinburgh Scotland who graduated in 2019 with a First Class BA(Hons) degree in Musical Theatre. Most recently, Hannah was selected as a mentee for Playwright’s Studio Scotland’s 2024 programme, working with Douglas Maxwell to develop a new play. Hannah makes vibrant, narrative-led, interdisciplinary work for stage. Her projects are currently supported by Vanishing Point and Imaginate, and funded by Creative Scotland and the Edinburgh City Council Diversity and Inclusion fund.

Since graduating, Hannah has been part of Traverse Theatre’s Creating Spaces and Young Writers programmes and is a recipient of Vanishing Points ‘Everyone is Creative’ grant. She was also selected for Framework Theatre’s Home: A Project for New Writers. As part of these programmes she has learnt from artists Shilpa T-Hyland, Mariam Omari, Hannah Lavery and Raman Mundair. Hannah is beyond delighted to be working with Wonder Fools and writing her first ever professionally commissioned play.

Get involved

    Season 1, 2 & 3

    If you want to explore any of the plays from the last few years the collections have been published by Methuen Bloomsbury and include work by some of the UK’s most exciting artists including Bryony Kimmings, Tim Crouch, Robert Softely Gayle, Hannah Lavery, Sabrina Mahfouz, Douglas Maxwell, The PappyShow with Lewis Hetherington, Sara Sharaawi, Stef Smith, Leyla Josephine, Debris Stevenson, Chris Thorpe, Bea Webster, Wonder Fools and Traverse Young Writer Ellen Bannerman.