The view from Vincent's Club

Location: Vincent’s Club Dining Room, 1A King Edward Street, Oxford OX1 4HS

(This is just off Oxford High Street where there is nearby parking, convenient public transport and wheelchair access)


Course Fees: £2,950 per year

(Two subsidised bursaries offer 50% discount for unwaged and under 25s)


Applications for the 2020-21 course are open from January 2020.

To apply, please send the following to


1. Your name, telephone number and address


2. A covering letter and a brief CV


3. Two samples of your written work, in any genre, neither exceeding 20 pages in length


John will contact you within two weeks of your application.

Interviews take place in Oxford.


Applications for next year's course are open now. Places fill up quickly, so early application is encouraged.


No academic qualification is required, and the course is open to anyone over 18. 

Course Dates 2020 - 2021

Year 1

Sessions take place on Mondays, 6 - 8.30pm.


October 5 - November 2

November 16 - December 14

Performance workshop on 12 December


January 11 - February 8

February 22 - March 22

April 19 - June 14


Performance workshop on 22 May

(30 sessions + 2 Saturday Performance Workshops = 80 hours)

Year 2

In May 2019, both Year 1 groups requested a 2nd year to the course.


Of the 15 writers on the 2018-19 cohort, 13 have continued with a Year Two  2 course.


The Year 2 course consists of 9 day-long sessions that take place once a month plus a final half-day Performance Workshop in June.


Each writer began the Year 2 course with the final draft of the play he or she wrote in the Year 1; and then outlined ideas for a new play to be written in Year 2.


The course explores the areas of adaptation, structure, character, dialogue, subtext and staging in greater depth; the group itself becomes a creative unit that motivates each writer to think more boldly and expressively than before.


I plan a further Year 2 course in 2020-21.


Year 2 course dates, 2019 - 2020

Fridays 10.30am – 5.30pm


Friday October 16

Friday November 6

Friday December 4

Friday January 15

Friday February 12

Friday March 12

Friday April 16

Friday May 14

Saturday May 29th Performance Workshop

Friday June 11th


(9 sessions + 1 Saturday Performance Workshop = 64 hours)

Visiting workshop leaders and guest speakers



May 2020 TIM CROUCH (Don’t Ask The Driver, An Oak Tree, England, The Author)


June 2018 CHRIS CAMPBELL then Literary Manager at The Royal Court


June 2019 MIKE BARTLETT (Dr Foster, Press, King Charles 3rd, Albion, Earthquakes in London)

March 2020 KENNETH LONERGAN (Manchester by the Sea, You Can Count On Me, Starry Messenger, This is Our Youth)

"If I were an aspiring playwright with an appetite to learn about the playwright’s craft, I couldn’t imagine a more skilled and supportive tutor."
Tom Morris, artistic director,
Bristol Old Vic

"John is a rare combination of an outstandingly creative theatre artist and a truly transformative teacher."
Tim Crouch, writer, director

"Usually, with a writing tutor, you  get someone who knows how to write and how to teach writing.  With John Retallack, you get those two gifts, plus a cracking experienced and imaginative director!"

Bryony Lavery, writer

"John Retallack is a hugely talented and experienced playwright and director. He combines practical know-how with incisive analysis and an infectious love of theatre. For anyone wanting to write professionally for the stage,  I couldn't think of anyone better to support, challenge and inspire you."

Jonathan Lloyd, director

"John has a writer’s understanding of structure, texture, character and tone blended with a director’s eye and ear for a quality of performance that will make an audience not just think but also, crucially, feel. It was a privilege to work with him and I very much hope I’m lucky enough to do so again."

Owen Sheers, writer

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Photography by Stuart Allsopp and Geraint Lewis. Website by Alexandra Coke.