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Young Rochdale writer’s work to hit festival stage

22 August 2019

Riz Ali, competition winner.

Young local playwright Riz Ali has been crowned winner of a competition organised by Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival for 14-25 year olds, and will now see their words brought to life on the stage this autumn.

The 22-year-old's work was chosen from dozens of budding local writers who submitted the first 10 pages of a script earlier this year for the festival's A Different Story of Rochdale: Tales from the Town Hall Playwriting Competition. Their play, inspired by Rochdale Town Hall, will be performed during the finale of the festival on Monday, 21 October 2019 in the iconic building itself by professional actors, with direction from the M6 Theatre Company.

Judges were very impressed by Riz's dialogue, paced storytelling and said they had a clear talent shining through her writing. Now Riz, who lives in the Deeplish area of Rochdale, is working with stage and television scriptwriter Nicola Schofield. Nicola, whose work includes the acclaimed BBC drama 'Doctors', is helping to develop Riz's words into a 30-minute play, giving the budding writer a unique hands-on experience with professional scriptwriting.

Riz said: "It's going to be so exciting to be part of the festival. I want to work in the arts as a career and the doors this opportunity could open are overwhelming. My family are so proud and almost as excited as I am. This is the first time I've ever shown anyone my work, it's such a personal thing to me and to have won the competition is amazing. I can't wait to see my characters come to life on the stage, especially at such an iconic venue."


While Riz is keeping full details of the play under wraps until its first performance, they said it's all about living life to the full: "The play is about not wasting time and not living within boundaries set by others or circumstance. Grow gracefully, but make sure you live. That's what it's about, that's the philosophy that inspired me."

When not writing, Riz studies theatre and performance at Salford University as well as working part-time as a support worker.

Free tickets for the premiere of their play that also include a tour of the town hall and a drinks reception are available now from the festival website.

The Rochdale festival also features the previously announced television presenter John Craven, feel-good fiction writer Milly Johnson, Gogglebox star and broadcaster Reverend Kate Bottley, children's author and television presenter Konnie Huq, author and activist Erin Ekins, international bestselling crime author and poet Sophie Hannah, popular children's authors Harry Heape and Hannah Lee, as well as award winning illustrator Olivia Lomenech Gill.

Printed programmes are released later this month, available from various prominent locations across Greater Manchester, including local libraries, leisure centres and Rochdale Town Hall.

Events will cover drama, comedy, poetry, spoken word, visual arts and children's shows. For young people aged 14 to 25, there will be a programme of events covering arts, culture and politics relevant to Generation Z.

Book tickets for 2 or more shows before 4pm on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 and you'll get an early bird discount of up to 25%.

The festival is aimed at celebrating and promoting the Maskew Collection of classic literature and philosophy at Rochdale Central Library, encouraging people to engage with books and ideas. Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, met in Rochdale Library in the 1950s and left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.

The festival is organised by us, supported by the Maskew Bequest and sponsored by creative digital media company - JGM Agency, The Royal Toby and Rochdale Sixth Form College.

A Different Story of Rochdale: Tales from the Town Hall is organised by Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival with support from M6 Theatre Company, Touchstones Rochdale, Rochdale Development Agency and the Heritage Lottery Fund.