Punjab to the Potteries: Call Out for South Asian Writers

Introducing the Punjab to the Potteries callout for South Asian writers by Appetite and New Vic Theatre is a black-and-white photograph of Baldev Bansal, dated 1964. He is a young man, perhaps in his early twenties, of South Asian descent. Baldev stands in the ginnel or alleyway running between the backs of rows of terraced houses. He is looking directly towards the camera and is dressed very smartly with a shirt and tie and striped pullover. In his right arm he cradles a small, sleeping baby in a bonnet. A short distance behind them, a young, white-skinned boy of around 7 years of age and dressed in what looks to be a football strip, looks on.

Baldev Bansal holding a baby in Stoke-on-Trent, 1964.


Appetite and New Vic Theatre are looking for South Asian writers or writers with a significant relationship to Punjab to undertake research and develop up to 30-minute short new plays that explore the journeys of those who have migrated from the Punjab area to the Potteries, or more broadly on the experiences of South Asian communities in the North Staffordshire region.

The Potteries is the name given to Stoke-on-Trent and areas around including Newcastle-under-Lyme that have been shaped by the pottery industry.


“Punjab to Potteries was an idea that came about when sorting out old photos at home, looking at them sort of inspired me in a way as it opened an abundance of questions of what it must of been like living in a small village in Punjab and travelling half way around the world to Stoke on Trent in the early 1960s to settle, how hard or difficult the journey was, leaving family behind, learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, education and work, food, the list is endless. There must be countless stories and memories as well as many more photos in numerous households of people and families who took a similar journey.”  Val Bansal

Punjab to the Potteries builds on Appetite and the New Vic’s work with the area’s communities. Our relationship with Val and others began in 2017 with Settling by Sam Ivin, an archive photography exhibition delivered in partnership with GRAIN Projects, which documented through personal photography the stories of those who have migrated from around the world, including South Asia, to establish lives in the Stoke-on-Trent area. For more information about the project – specifically Baldev Bansal – visit: Baldev Bansal — Settling (settlingstoke.com)

We now wish to build upon this by commissioning engaging, new plays that will explore and platform these stories further and bring them to local audiences. For the first stage we would like to commission a series of up to 30-minute plays that will be shared with a live audience as part of a play reading event at the New Vic Theatre.

The Brief

What we are looking for:

  • Writers of South Asian heritage or with significant and demonstrable ties to the Punjabi community. You do not need to be based in the local area or region
  • Significant professional experience of writing for performance for stage, audio, or other contexts
  • Experience of undertaking research including interviews would be desirable
  • Experience of working with communities and an understanding of how to work responsibly with personal testimony and stories
  • We are keen to hear from professional writers


This is indicative timescale of the project:

  • Deadline for Expressions of Interest: Thursday 10 November, Midday
  • Successful applicants invited to interview: November
  • Research period with on-site engagement with the community of interest: December, January, February
  • Research and preliminary ideas shared with team: February 2023
  • Script developed: end of Feb – end of April
  • Play reading event: anticipated to be May – and to be designed together

Details & Fee:

Commission Fee: £4000 + expenses up-to £1000 (Inclusive of community engagement research on site up to 10 days)

Appetite and New Vic Borderlines teams will support writers with engaging with local South Asian communities, however, would expect the research period to be self-led.

New Vic Borderlines department has a rich history of working with communities to create documentary plays and community engagement with a wide range of people: locally, nationally and internationally.

Working with the New Vic Education department there could be opportunity to deliver a workshop session with community members within the research and development period as part of the partnership with the RSC 37 Plays project.

The play reading event will have an additional budget for the event.

We hope to commission two writers.

How to submit an Expression of Interest:

Please submit a written CV or, if preferable for accessibility requirements a recorded CV, and a statement of maximum 500 words, outlining why this opportunity appeals to you and how you would approach the research and writing process to askus@appetite.org.uk by the deadline outlined in the timescale information.

Your application will be considered by a panel consisting of members of the Appetite and New Vic Theatre teams and members of the local South Asian community.

We encourage d/DEAF, disabled and neurodivergent people and those from other intersectional diverse backgrounds to apply. We do not discriminate based on disability.

Read the call out in full via Microsoft Word or via PDF.



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