The Beacons Project

The Beacons Project is a free creative writing residency which runs during the Hay Festival for 16–18-year-olds living in Wales. Please see below for information about future residencies. In the meantime, enjoy these two dynamic and inspiring workshops from creative industry greats Jack Thorne and Owen Sheers, aimed at students aged 16–18. BAFTA, Olivier and Tony award-winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne discusses his adaptation of Phillip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials for Bad Wolf, the world renowned production company based in South Wales. Acclaimed Welsh poet, author and playwright Owen Sheers leads students through a creative writing workshop inspired by the landscape of Wales. Both workshops reflect the vibrant creative community in Wales and explore and encourage creativity, inclusivity and sustainability to inspire the future generation of creative Welsh talent.

Owen Sheers
Brecon Beacons landscape
Owen Sheers

Owen Sheers – Creative Writing Inspired by the Landscape

Acclaimed Welsh poet, author, playwright and Professor in Creativity at Swansea University, Owen Sheers explores our relationship with landscape and how we might capture or excavate the places around us in writing. Owen was one of the first students to attend the Hay Festival Beacons Project right at the beginning of his highly successful writing career. His workshop is filmed on location in the Brecon Beacons and in Booths Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye.

To watch the entire film will take about 45 minutes, including paused sections during the workshop.

Download a PDF of Owen Sheers' lesson plan

Watch the film – closed captions available in English and Welsh


Jack Thorne
Rhys Bebb of Screen Alliance Wales
Jack Thorne

Jack Thorne – Adaptation from Novel to Screen

BAFTA, Olivier and Tony award-winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne discusses adaptation from novel to screen, looking particularly at Bad Wolf's adaptation of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Jack is in conversation with Rhys Bebb from Screen Alliance Wales.

To watch the entire film through will take 45 minutes; however, it has been broken down into 4 chapters to allow you to select a particular section of the discussion. The topics fall into four areas.

Chapter 1. Discussing the difference between media
Chapter 2. How to decide on themes and narratives for the adaption
Chapter 3. The process of developing characters and dialogue
Chapter 4. Other considerations for the adaption process.

Download a PDF of Jack Thorne's lesson plan

Watch the film – closed captions available in English and Welsh



Thanks to Welsh Government for funding this project and to Bad Wolf and Screen Alliance Wales for their partnership in creating Jack Thorne's workshop. And finally, thanks to Booths Bookshop for allowing us to film Owen Sheers on location.

More about the Beacons Project residencies at Hay Festival

The Beacons Project aims to encourage creativity and forge a sense of creative identity amongst young people in Wales. It offers a unique opportunity for Welsh students to work with exceptional writers and journalists in a highly creative and stimulating environment during Hay Festival. This year's creative writing residency will take place during Hay Festival Winter Weekend from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 November 2021. Applications open here on Monday 13 September 2021.

Twenty students aged 16-18 from across Wales are invited to the Festival to meet and work with professional writers, broadcasters and journalists to develop their writing skills. There are workshops, discussions and events exploring the strong links between environment and landscape, art and literature.

Accommodation, food and all activities are free. We can also offer a £30 bursary to cover travel to and from Hay-on-Wye. Students are supported by a mentor throughout the project and spend four days and three nights attending events, participating in workshops, writing blogs and reviews and immersing themselves in everything that Hay Festival has to offer.

Many of our former participants have gone on to careers in creative writing, publishing and the media, including the award-winning poet and playwright Owen Sheers.

“The Beacons Project was crucial for me. It not only provided me with the aspiration to be a writer but also put me in contact with a range of authors and literature that I'd have been hard pushed to find anywhere else. The Beacons Project is a must if Wales is at all serious about fostering young talent in the arts.”  Owen Sheers

Have a look at our short film: