What does literature look like when it explores a new form? Check out Taylor Beidler’s selection of ten books and discover new ways to read and experience literature…
Taylor Beidler won the inaugural UEA New Forms Award, part of NCW’s Early Career Awards, for her project exploring non-traditional methods of storytelling which synthesises her work as a playwright, performance artist and creative non-fiction writer. As part of our commitment to increase the lasting impact of the awards, NCW has donated Taylor’s ten hand-picked books to her selected charity, Generation Arts, which supports marginalised young people.
Dance Nation by Clare Barron
Somewhere in America, a revolution is coming, an army of pre-teen competitive dancers plot to take over the world one routine at a time.
And if their new routine is good enough, they’ll claw their way to the top at the Boogie Down Grand Prix in Tampa Bay. But in Clare Barron’s raucous pageant of ambition and ferocity, these young dancers have more than choreography on their minds, because every plie and jete is a step toward finding themselves, and a fight to unleash their power.
With a pre-teen battle for power and perfection raging on and off stage, Dance Nation is a ferocious exploration of youth, ambition and self-discovery.
Fairview by Jackie Sibbles Drury
Grandma’s birthday approaches. Beverly is organizing the perfect dinner, but everything seems doomed from the start: the silverware is all wrong, the carrots need chopping and the radio is on the fritz. What at first appears to be a family comedy takes a sharp, sly turn into a startling examination of deep-seated paradigms about race in America.
The Wolves by Sarah Delappe
One of the most-talked about new plays of the 2016 Off-Broadway season, Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves opened to enthusiastic acclaim, including two sold-out, extended runs at The Playwrights Realm/The Duke on 42nd Street.The Wolves follows the 9 teenage girls–members of an indoor soccer team–as they warm up, engage in banter and one-upmanship, and fight battles big and small with each other and themselves. As the teammates warm up in sync, a symphony of overlapping dialogue spills out their concerns, including menstruation (pads or tampons?), is Coach hung over?, eating disorders, sexual pressure, the new girl, and the Khmer Rouge.
Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes
María Irene Fornés has been called the greatest and least-known dramatist of our time. In the innovative original play, which originally Fornes herself directed, the audience follows the lives of eight women in five different environments. Fefu and Her Friends is “funny and shocking…the dramatic equivalent of a collection of poem.” – Richard Eder, reviewing the original 1978 production, The New York Times
Watch a production of Fefu and Her Friends below
Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell Alvin Mccraney
This is the first collection by Tarell Alvin McCraney, a major new playwright of the American theater. Lyrical and mythic, provocative and contemporary, McCraney’s dramas of kinship, love, and heartache are set in the bayou of Louisiana and loosely draw on West African myths.
Adrian Lester and Lolita Chakrabarti: A Working Diary
In this insightful joint working diary, the creative powerhouse of a couple, Lolita Chakrabarti and Adrian Lester, chronicle 16 months of their fascinating working lives, including their experiences working on the stage adaptation of Life of Pi, an original series of monologues about the NHS, the film adaptation of Red Velvet and the TV series The Rook, among many other projects. As readers, we experience, first-hand, their experiences as two of the most proactive and versatile theatre makers today, working across a range of media and exciting collaborations.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
Lorde’s first and only novel Zami was classed a “biomythography”, which combines myth, history, and biography through a narrative form, detailing her childhood in New York City, and navigating life as a black lesbian in 1950s America. This book is an ode to intersectionality, and Lorde will remain someone whose work we must learn from for centuries to come.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future.
Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird is the bible of writing guides – a wry, honest, down-to-earth book that has never stopped selling since it was first published in the United States in the 1990s. Bestselling novelist and memoirist Anne Lamott distils what she’s learned over years of trial and error. Beautifully written, wise and immensely helpful, this is the book for all serious writers and writers-to-be.
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky
Deaf Republic opens in a time of political unrest in an occupied territory. It is uncertain where we are or when, in what country or during what conflict, but we come to recognise that these events are also happening here, right now. This astonishing parable in poems unfolds episodically like a play, its powerful narrative provoked by a tragic opening scene: when soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear – in that moment, all have gone deaf. Inside this silence, their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language.