Writer Residencies & Retreats


This is an exciting Mercury Musical Developments Writing Residency opportunity for female and non-binary identifying writers. MMD and the Hosking Houses Trust (HHT) are collaborating on a very special pilot residency for Writers of Musical Theatre Book and/or Lyrics and/or Music for 3 weeks in February 2021 in an idyllic, well equipped cottage in Clifford Chambers, Stratford-Upon-Avon. There will be a bursary of £700 along with mentorship from book and lyric writer Teresa Howard. You will be required to write a short evaluation of your time at the cottage and also take part in a sharing of your work with MMD members, either online or live.

The Hosking Houses Trust was founded by Sarah Hosking whose mission was to provide a ‘Room of One’s Own’ in which women could write. Since 2002 more than 100 writers and artists have stayed in the cottage, writing poetry, novels and plays and making art for exhibitions. They include Timberlake Wertenbaker, Joan Bakewell, Salley Vickers, Maggie Gee, Chinonyerem Odimba and Wendy Cope. Marina Warner has been patron of the Trust since 2006. It is only a walk across the fields from The Royal Shakespeare Theatre and in the heart of Shakespeare country with wonderful walks and good restaurants and pubs nearby.

This pilot residency is kindly being funded by The Coral Samuel Charitable Trust and following this, MMD and HHT hope to offer a further three residences per year for the next three years, dependent on enough funding being raised to continue this wonderful development opportunity.

MMD recognises that pro-active encouragement of diversity within the membership and activities will make a valuable contribution towards the development of the artform we support, pushing creative boundaries and ensuring that the greatest possible range of voices is reflected in the work created. We seek to make appropriate adjustments to offer equity of opportunity within talent development selection processes and opportunities, such as this one, and aim to amplify under-represented voices that might not otherwise be heard within the wider musical theatre sector.

PLEASE NOTE: Applications for the Feb 2021 retreat have now closed. Please check back here and in the Friday Mailout for future opportunities.

If you can confirm your availability for three weeks in February 2021, then please send us:

1. A synopsis of the new musical you propose to develop at the cottage, what makes it relevant and unique and how you and your work will benefit from the residency. No longer than 1 page of A4.

2. Your CV, no longer than 2 pages of A4.

3. A reference about you and your work from an industry representative.

4. And fill in the equal opportunities form and submit it.

Please send your 3 application documents to martin@mercurymusicals.com by 12 noon Friday 30th October.

Please note: The application process for this residency is separate from the Hoskins Houses Trust website application process. Please do not apply direct to the trust.

A panel of carefully selected writers and board members will assess the applications through a questioning process including these areas:

1. How the writer will use their time at the cottage

2. How beneficial the residency will be to the development of the writer’s work

3. How the industry representative refers to the writer’s work

4. What the CV communicates about where the writer is in their career

5. How the musical to be developed relates to the wider new musical theatre industry

Announcement of the residency award winner will be on Friday 4th December 2020


1. Is the cottage accessible?

It was built in the 18th century and is grade 2 listed. There is a short but steep staircase of 9 steps to get to the bedroom and there is not enough turning space for a wheelchair. Pets and assistance animals are welcome. Please let us know of any additional needs and we will discuss adjustments.

2. Can two of us apply as a writing partnership?

There is only room for one person to stay at the cottage, but a collaborator could stay nearby at their own expense.

3. Can I do other work whilst I am there?

We envisage the recipient of the bursary staying at the cottage for the three weeks and focussing on their writing work, but it’s possible to discuss other work that may need to continue.

4. What does the bursary cover?

This is intended to cover your travel and living expenses whilst you are at the cottage as well as funding some of your writing time. The bursary is tax free.

5. Can I bring a partner or child to stay with me?

Sorry no, there isn’t the space, but they can visit, of course. Pets are welcome in special circumstances.

6. Can I get there via public transport?

Yes, there are trains & coaches to Stratford-upon Avon and then a taxi, Uber or bus can get you to Clifford Chambers.

7. Is there good broadband/Wi-Fi?

Yes, but you will need to bring your own devices for writing/composing – there is no keyboard.

8. Why is it three weeks?

This is because we need to leave time at the start and end of the month for thorough cleaning of the property and we know from the experience of other writers that 3 weeks is a good length of time to focus on one particular project/task.

9. What do I need to share at the end?

MMD and HHT would like the writer to share some of what they have worked on during the residency, but this could be in any form, such as a reading, a song or a discussion, which happens online or in a venue.