It's time for Week Six of The NHB Playgroup! If this is your first email update from us, then a big welcome and thanks so much for getting involved.

In Week Five you've been reading Oil, the epic, explosive play by Ella Hickson. Our Q&A with Ella is out now – find that below. The discussion continues online, so head to Twitter and use the hashtag #NHBPlaygroup to share your thoughts with other readers.

We're also excited to reveal this week's free NHB Playgroup play is Human Animals by Stef Smith. It's available to read right now, completely for free, for the next seven days only – see more about the play below, and send us your question for our Q&A with Stef by the end of Sunday 10 May.

We're so grateful to Ella Hickson for agreeing to let us share Oil for free and for taking part in our Q&A. We're currently offering a special 30% discount on the rest of Ella's plays – so if you enjoyed Oil and would like to check out more of her brilliant work, see details of our offer below.

Thanks again for being part of the Playgroup – we hope it's helping you continue to feel connected to theatre during the shutdown, and see you next week!
At the end of each week of The NHB Playgroup, we record and release a Q&A with the writer of that week's free play, using the questions sent in by you, the readers.

For this week's Q&A, our host, SiΓ’n Mayhall-Purvis, spoke to Ella Hickson about her play Oil – you can listen to this episode right now here. We cover how Ella felt about tackling such an expansive subject, putting women in charge of history, how the play's vision of the future has turned out in the years since it first premiered, and much more.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to send us such brilliant questions! Get involved in future Playgroup Q&As by sending your question for the writer by the end of Sunday.
Listen to our Q&A with Ella Hickson here
This week's free NHB Playgroup play is Human Animals by Stef Smith β€“ and it's available to read right now, for the next seven days only!

'[A] superbly written, wildly imaginative and thought-provoking play' The Arts Desk

'A dark, surrealist parable with shades of JG Ballard' WhatsOnStage

'The disturbing and the dotty, queasiness and quirkiness mingle arrestingly' Independent

In the overcrowded city, nature is getting out of control. The mice are scratching between walls, the pigeons are diseased and the foxes are beginning to rule the streets. The problem is growing. It's contagious. It has to be stopped, before it's too late.

Human Animals premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in May 2016.

Content guidance: contains strong language, description of violence and injury, and scenes that some readers may find upsetting. Suitable for ages 16+. For more detailed information, please email
Start reading Human Animals now here
We're so grateful to Ella Hickson for agreeing to be part of The NHB Playgroup, and for letting us share Oil for free.

If you enjoyed Ella's play, we'd love you to show your gratitude and support by checking out her other brilliant work, including her award-winning debut play Eight; sharp, angry and brilliantly clever The Writer β€“ and her latest play Swive [Elizabeth], about Elizabeth I's rise to power.

To make that easier, we're offering a 30% discount on ebooks of all Ella Hickson's plays (where available) β€“ use code PLAYGROUPHICKSON30 at checkout on our website when you order by 20 May.
Save 30% on Ella Hickson's plays here
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