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Opportunities Weekly Roundup: 17 May 2019

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Our weekly Friday round-up of opportunities listed on the blog that haven’t yet reached their closing date (listed in order of closing date).  Opportunities are grouped into four sections: 1) Pick of the Week & featured posts; 2) Opportunities with Deadlines; 3) Workshops and Events; 4) Ongoing opportunities (No deadline).

Want to be sure you never miss an opportunity?  Sign up for our email list to get the weekly roundup direct to your inbox! 

Featured posts:

 

LPW: The Submissions Checklist – Online Course: Now Live!

Exclusive extract from Playwriting: Structure, Character, How and What to Write by Stephen Jeffreys

LPW Play Club #2 – Trestle by Stewart Pringle

LPW Members’ Meetup and Script Surgery

LPB launch NEW Script Consulting Service

How do you earn a living? We want to hear from you!

Our latest opportunities Pick of the Week: David Higham Associates: Open Day for Under-Represented Writers (Film, TV & Theatre)

Opportunities with deadlines:

University Women In The Arts launch survey to improve career transition For Women in the Arts – Deadline: not applicable

Play Submissions Helper: 25 Opportunities with May deadlines – Deadline: various throughout May

Caspa Arts seeking 5-15 minute plays for scratch night – Deadline: 19 May 2019

Arts Ed Original Screenplay project accepting applications – Deadline: 20 May 2019

New Vic Theatre seeking creative writer (Stoke-On-Trent) – Deadline: 24 May 2019

Swings and Roundabouts script call out for new writing night – Deadline: 25 May 2019

Brave New Worlds seeking 5-10 plays for ‘BALLS: acts of bravery in a gendered world’ – Deadline: 25 May 2019

The Literal Challenge launch ‘Like the Prose’ short story challenge – Deadline: (for registration) 28 May 2019

Little Wonder Radio Plays accepting submissions – Deadline: 31 May 2019

shortFLIX | Creative England, Sky Arts, ScreenSkills – Deadline: 31 May 2019

Pint Sized Plays open for entries (£5.50 entry fee) – Deadline: 31 May 2019

Kevin Elyot Award for Writer-in-Residence – call for submissions 2019 – Deadline:: 31 May 2019

Shore Scripts 2019 Feature Screenplay and TV Pilot Contests.now open for submissions (entry fee $45-$60) – Deadline: 31 May 2019 (early) 31 August 2019 (final)

A Greedy Ear seeking playwrights for Audio Theatre event – Deadline: 31 May 2019

Raze the Space International 10 minute play festival open for submissions on theme of ‘Lost & Found’ – Deadline: 31 May 2019

MA TV Fiction Writing Scholarships: Glasgow Caledonian University – open for applications – Deadline: 1 June 2019

Clapham Fringe accepting ideas on theme of ‘beyond borders‘ – Deadline: 2 June 2019

Applications open for Wales Writer in Residence scheme from the BBC and National Theatre Wales – Deadline: 3 June 2019 at 11am

ArtfulScribe seeking writer in residence (paid) – Deadline: 3 June 2019

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2019 is now open for entries – 5 June 2019

Scratch a Fortnight accepting submissions on theme of ‘Impulse’ – Deadline: 10 June 2019

David Higham Associates: Open Day for Under-Represented Writers (Film, TV & Theatre) – Deadline: 10 June 2019

Tamasha Scratch night script call out- Deadline: 15 June 2019

Beinghuman Ltd: Open Call for the Being Summer event! – Deadline: 15 June 2019

Segora International one-act play competitions open for entries – Deadline: 15 June 2019

Royal Society of Literature – A Room of My Own: A Survey of What UK Writers Need to Work – Deadline: none posted/ results published 19 June 2019

MFA in Playwriting at The Lir Academy – open for applications – Deadline: 28 June 2019

Green Stories Stage Play Writing Competition open for entries – Deadline: 30 June 2019

Dark Unicorn Productions seeking stage plays – Deadline: 30 June 2019

The High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature 2019 – Scriptwriting: open for entries (Cheshire writers) – Deadline: 1 July 2019

Dancing Bear Books seeking short story writers for anthology – Deadline: 1 July 2019

Academy Arts Press short story competition (entry fee $15/$20) – Deadline: 1 October 2019

Decorating Dissidence: Call for Submissions – Essays, Reviews, Poetry, Visual Arts – Deadline: 31 March 2020

Events and workshops:

Pitlochry Festival Theatre launch Writers room – Dates: various throughout 2019

Theatre503 Rapid Response Nights – Dates: various, starting 23 January 2019

London Playwriting Lab open for applications – Deadline: none, but applications opened 1 May 2019

Writing for Television: Residential workshop with Roy Mitchell – Dates: 20-24 May 2018

BBC Writersroom Scotland presents the BBC Scottish Writers’ Festival 2019 – Date: 31 May 2019

Tamasha Masterclass: Writing for Radio – Deadline to apply: 14 June 2019/ workshop takes place on 29 June 2019

Written Off Women – WoW! Discussion about ageism in theatre at the Ovalhouse – Date: 29 June 2019

Tamasha Masterclass: Playwriting with Teenagers – Deadline to apply: 28 June 2019/ workshop takes place 13 July 2019

CAMP residential: Playwriting with John Burgess – Dates: 7th –  12th August 2019 (level 1) 14th – 19th August 2019 (level 2

Online workshops and resources: 

Papatango career facilitation service – 10am -12pm alternate Tuesdays (starting 31 January 2019)

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting: Online Toolkit for writers

The Bruntwood Prize: Free livestreamed workshops for 2019 Paines Plough Insights Podcast

Stagedoor App Podcast (Bridget Minamore and Chris Campbell of the Royal Court’s Literary Office)

Access the Royal Court’s Playwrights’ Podcast

Bloomsbury Publishing: How to get your play published (view live stream of talk)

WGGB launches FREE Musical Theatre Kit

An Introduction to Screenwriting: free online course with FutureLearn & Uni. of East Anglia

LPB Summer Sessions: Overcoming writers’ block (online workshop)

LPB Summer Sessions: How to write a monologue (online workshop)

LPB Summer Sessions: Promoting yourself as a writer (online workshops)

LPB: The Redrafting Toolkit

LPB Members: Online Course – Writing in Dialect: How to Listen, What to Write –  Available now

Ongoing submissions:

WildChild Script Call out! – Deadline: none posted

Blindspot Theatre Scratch night -Deadline: none but slots are filled on a first come first serve basis

Katzpace accepting submissions for Katzcratch – Deadline: none posted

Scriptjam accepting scripts for feedback – Deadline: rolling

The Cabot Cruising Club, Bristol looking to programme arts events – Deadline: none posted

Exploding Whale Theatre seeking submissions for their next show – Deadline: none posted

Thunder Theatre seeking submissions for 15-20 minute plays – Deadline: none posted

Mate Productions accepting applications for Writers Collective – Deadline: None posted

Manchester ADP seeking scripts to produce – Deadline: Rolling

Sparks – HighTide’s new script submission process – Deadline: Weekly, follow them on Twitter for updates

Attic Theatre seeking musicals for 2019 tour – Deadline: None posted

React Scratch inviting writers to share work at monthly scratch night – Deadline: Rolling

Drama Notebook seeking short plays for kids and teens (paid) – Deadline: None posted

Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Play Production Programme – Deadline: Ongoing

Aurora Metro Books seeks British East Asian plays for publication – Deadline: Ongoing

Middle Child Theatre seeking scripts to commission – Deadline: None posted

Newsthump looking for spoof news writers – Deadline: ongoing

Arvon Grants available for writing courses – Deadline: none posted/ various

Paines Plough accepting ongoing submissions – Deadline: rolling

BBC Comedy Classroom – Comedy writing resources for young people –  Deadline: various

Online Masterclass with Aaron Sorkin on Screenwriting ($90) – Deadline: none posted

JW3 seeking submissions of pieces about Jewish culture – Deadline: rolling

BFI Postroom open to submissions of films and scripts from emerging filmmakers – Deadline: rolling

Opportunities to hear your play with Player Playwrights – Deadline: rolling

Playwrights Circle at the Bread & Roses – Deadline: ongoing (monthly event)

Funding available for students at Glasgow University MLitt Playwriting & Dramaturgy – Deadline: none posted

The Cockpit Theatre seeking work for scratch nights – Deadline: none  posted but performances take place on the first Monday of the month.

Exclusive extract from Playwriting: Structure, Character, How and What to Write by Stephen Jeffreys

We’ve been lucky enough to nab an exclusive extract from the brilliant new book, Playwriting: Structure, Character, How and What to Write,  by internationally acclaimed playwright, Stephen Jeffreys. If you want an authoritative guide to playwriting from a true master of the craft, then you can get your hands on a copy, here. 


In this extract, Jeffreys looks at the relationships between characters, and how strengthening these can drive your whole play forward.

You will probably have noticed from your own writing that certain characters come to life more immediately than others. The experience of writing a first draft is often one of sudden bursts of light illuminating stretches of relative darkness. More particularly, there is a tendency for certain characters to spark off each other so that when they are on stage together the dialogue flows and tension crackles. Conversely, some characters walk into the play and, like the guests who can put a dampener on any party, the whole thing falls flat. Nearly always this effect is reversible. It’s generally caused by the writer failing to consider in depth what a relationship between two characters has to offer. To some extent, writing successful plays is more related to writing strong relationships than writing strong characters (though Brecht might be an exception).

As soon as a character meets another character, a different aspect of their nature is revealed. We all play a variety of roles in our lives: we might within the space of a few hours appear as parent, child, spouse, worker, customer, carer, and so on. A successful constellation of characters will tease out a large number of different facets of the characters and provide the opportunity to explore these facets deeply. Edward Bond suggested that every character should meet every other character in the play. That obviously doesn’t apply to works of such epic sweep as Antony and Cleopatra, but it does apply to relatively small-scale plays.

The best way to ensure that you are making the most of all the possible relationships in the play is to create a grid like this, where you consider each character’s perception of their relationship with the other characters:

 

When you have written the first draft, you might proceed by working carefully through the whole play and in each box summarising all the characters’ relationships with each other. I’ve deliberately left the ‘D’ boxes blank above, but when you come to fill them all in, I suspect that you’ll realise that, while about one-third of the relationships are very strongly realised, another third will be patchy, and the final third not well-achieved at all. If one of the characters seems especially weak after you’ve made the analysis, then a radical rethink of this character is required. Tinkering with small-scale ideas will not solve the problem. The character will need a substantial change of motivation or personality for them to contribute. However, if most of the characters seem to be operating successfully and there are only a few relationships which seem underachieved, it is likely that small adjustments here and there will take the play further forward. When faced with a weak relationship, ask yourself what the characters could possibly want from one another, or what they would especially find to like or dislike about each other. Sometimes the key lies in avoiding the obvious; for instance, my university professor, a reserved and conventional figure, was always drawn to the most anarchic and disreputable students. People who have very different outlooks can sometimes find surprising grounds for companionship, while people who show every signs of being compatible will often rub each other up the wrong way. You might wish to make two grids: one which summarises the relationships at the start of the play and then one which assesses how the characters feel about each other at the end.

You will find that your constellation of characters when taken as a totality constitutes the overall moral world of the play. A Jane Austen novel will contain a relatively narrow worldview since they are all drawn from the same class, while a Brecht play might allow for a wide range of divergent philosophies. The moral range on offer in a play or film impacts directly on our judgements of the characters. The Godfather is a good example of this: all the characters are terrible people. However, the Corleones are preferable to the other mafia groups because we see them taking care of their families and upholding traditional Italian values. Unlike Bruno Tattaglia, who is a pimp and deals drugs to children, the Corleones make some attempt to protect the innocent from their criminal activities. When compared with the other families, the Corleones seem like regular guys. If the constellation of characters consists entirely of appalling people, those who are slightly less appalling will stand out as examples of relative goodness. In a generally unsympathetic play, someone who offers someone else a cup of tea looks like a saint. Alternatively, in a play which otherwise evinces a relatively limited worldview, a moral challenge can be made by a character who comes from outside the prevailing group. In Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, the dominant group of young bohemians is challenged by the arrival of the Colonel in Act Two. In some plays, two conflicting worldviews are portrayed simultaneously: Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good shows us the convict class and the officer class, for example. In a play like The Merchant of Venice, because the range of characters is greater, the clashes (between Christians and Jews, servants and masters, men and women) become more complex, and the moral world of the play more multifaceted.

This is an extract from Playwriting: Structure, Character, How and What to Write by Stephen Jeffreys,  edited by Maeve McKeown, and out now, published by Nick Hern Books. 

Find out more and order your copy here

LPW Members’ Meetup and Script Surgery

We’re excited to announce the details of our next members’ meetup, hope to see you there!

We promised the opportunity to share your work at all of our members’ meetups this year, and this time round you’ll get the chance to discuss your work on a one-to-one basis with a member of the LPW team for feedback! Each participant will get a 15 minute slot in our Script Surgery, where you’ll be able to discuss your ideas, share any challenges you’re facing and get some practical advice.

When it’s not your turn in the Surgery, there’ll be the chance to grab a cuppa, chat to other writers, and find out a bit more about what we’ve got coming up at LPW.

When: Saturday 29 June 2019

Time: 10am-12pm

Where: Old Diorama Arts Centre

How to book: to make sure we can plan the Script Surgery, booking is absolutely essential. Please email us the following details to secure your spot:

  • Your name (please let us know if your membership is registered under a different email address/ pseudonym)
  • Half a page or so describing your idea and what you’d like to discuss in the Script Surgery.
  • Optional: Up to 10 pages of script (this doesn’t have to be the first 10 pages, choose the extract you’d most like to discuss).

You’re also welcome to attend the members’ meetup without participating in the Script Surgery, if you just fancy catching up with some other writers! Just email us to book your place. 

Send your email with ‘Script Surgery Booking’ as the heading to scripts@londonplaywrightsblog.com

Cost: this event is included in our monthly membership fee. If you’re not a member yet, you can join for around the price of a coffee per month find out more here.

Deadline: please book your slot no later than 20 June 2019

 

Opportunities – Pick of the Week: David Higham Associates: Open Day for Under-Represented Writers (Film, TV & Theatre)

Each week we look through our pile of writing opportunities to pick out one we think is particularly worth your time. It could be an innovative brief, great prize money, a high-profile company, or just plain fun.

This week’s pick: David Higham Associates: Open Day for Under-Represented Writers (Film, TV & Theatre)

Description: David Higham Associates are holding an open day for under-represented scripwriters at their Soho offices. The day will feature talks and Q&As with agents and development professionals, a one-to-one session with one of their Film, TV & Theatre agents, and the opportunity to meet and network with like-minded writers. There will be 8 available places and a bursary for travel expenses will be available for each writer chosen.

What’s so great about it? We think it’s great that David Higham Associates are opening their doors to those under-represented in film, TV & theatre. The day itself looks fantastic, with Q&A’s and the chance to talk to industry professionals and meet other writers. It looks like a brilliant opportunity and if you want to apply for a place, get your submission in by 10 June. Just to let you know, you’ll need to send in a full length play and be available for the day on 19 September.

Read the full details here

Please note, we’ve posted this for your convenience and we’re not affiliated with the organisers of the opportunity.

Photo courtesy of 

LPW Play Club #2 – Trestle by Stewart Pringle

Another month, another new Play Club announcement! 

We received some fantastic entries for the first Play Club window which were incredible responses to Far Away by Caryl Churchill some vibrant and unique voices, so it was a difficult task to choose a piece for the reading. However, we managed to make our selection and the chosen play for the first ever Play Club is…

Mannequin by Rupert Mallin

An intro to Rupert, from Rupert:

I live and work in Norwich. From 1975 to around 2005 I had over 400 poems published in magazines (Ambit, Tribune, Poetry Review, etc.) and two plays of mine were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in the 1990s but I then largely gave up writing to concentrate on producing art. Over the last two years, the Creative Working Lives group, has brought me back to playwriting with a production of ‘From Flowers to Punk,’ celebrating the other side of Norwich, which was staged last year. I’ve survived working life through various jobs in factories and then teaching in FE, together with community arts projects and residencies in East Anglia. Now in my sixties, my life-long ambition to bring art, writing and performance together is taking shape.

We’re delighted to be taking Rupert’s play for a reading by actors at the final members meet-up of the year, where we can discuss the piece and have conversations surrounding the work! And if you want a bit of the action, there’s still 3 changes to submit your work! Read on below to find out about out what we’re reading this month…

Trestle by Stewart Pringle

Stewart Pringle’s Trestle won the Papatango new writing prize in 2017, with its inaugural production running at the Southwark Playhouse in November of the same year. It’s a play that centres around the connection between two older characters who are leading their later lives incredibly differently. The play is structured in a tightly knit way, with weekly interactions at the local Village Hall serving as the tying bond between the two protagonists.

You can nab the play for just £3 over on Papatango’s website:
https://papatango.co.uk/product/trestle-by-stewart-pringle/

Submissions

As we mentioned previously, we challenge you to write a short, 10 page play (12 font size, please!) in direct response to what you’ve read.

We will accept submissions from LPW members only, so if you’re not one yet but are wanting to submit – what’re you waiting for? It costs less than a cup of coffee a month and you get a whole host of exclusive benefits! Details of how to sign up can be found here.

Our submission window in response to Trestle will be open from
Monday 20th May – Sunday 16th June  so please don’t send us scripts before then!

An email will be sent your way once the window is open with full details of how to submit, including; where to send it, our format guidelines and some top tips.

But until then, happy reading for this month, and don’t forget to join the Facebook group discussion!

How to sign up

Play submissions for this project are exclusively for our members (you can sign up for less than 4 quid though and you’ll be helping to support the next generation of playwrights if you do!)

You’re also more than welcome to just read the plays and join in some discussion with us about them on the members Facebook group! We’ll open up a discussion forum on there at the same time we open for submissions, so don’t feel you have to write a play, you’re absolutely fine to just read too.

If you’re not a member yet, sign up now and follow the link as above.

Image source: Nick Hern Books/Papatango (Trestle Cover) 

LPW: The Submissions Checklist – live now!

The latest instalment of our members’ content is our online course, The Submissions Checklist, and it’s now live.  (If you’re not a member yet, sign up here for the price of a coffee!)

About the Course: so you’ve finished your play and plan to submit it to a theatre, a producer or a playwriting competition. But before you fire it out on all cylinders, you’ll need to make sure it’s in absolutely perfect shape. The final polish up of your script is crucial in making your script stand out from the crowd and ensuring it’s definitely ready to leave the comfort of your computer and (hopefully!) find a new home on the stage!

Course content: 

  • Is your script really ready to submit?
  • Who should you submit your script to?
  • What to send in, from writing your biography to creating a concise synopsis
  • How to tailor your submission and promote yourself through your submission
  • Practical exercises to help you to complete the final polish of your script
  • The Submissions Checklist Quiz to make sure it’s really ready to go!

How it works: all course materials are now live on the members’ site

The course will remain live on the website so you can work through it as slowly or as quickly as you like – and come back to it as many times as you need!

Cost: this course is included in the monthly subscription fee which starts at just £3.63 per month. By signing up, you’ll also get access to previous courses and exciting member benefits, plus you’ll be helping us to support the next generation of playwrights! Find out more here.

 

 

Spring News from LPW!

Spring has sprung and we thought it was high time we gave you an update on what we’ve been up to at London Playwrights’ Workshop. We’ve been super busy working on both current projects and exciting new ones so read on for the full lowdown…

2019 so far…

Almost 200 of you joined us in January for #WrAP2019, where you stepped up to the challenge of writing a play in a month! We had an amazing response and were lucky enough to hear some of your work at our first members’ meetup of the year, which took place last month. It was fantastic to see/ meet those who came along and get to share their brilliant and diverse ideas.

We then launched straight into #WriteHacks, where our members got a selection of game changing life hacks for writers sent straight to their inboxes every day throughout March.

Don’t worry if you missed any of this – you can catch up with it over on the members’ website. If you’re not a member yet, find out more here

Play Club

Recently, our Literary Projects Manager, George,  decided our online Book Club needed a rethink (of course he did!) and spurred on by the idea of creating opportunities for writers, he came up with Play Club

Every other month, we’ll be selecting a play which you can write a short piece in response to and submit to us. We’ll be selecting our favourites to be read by actors in an event which will take place at the end of the year! The submission window for the latest Play Club is now open, check out the details here.

Script Consulting

We’ve also given our Script Consulting Service a massive overhaul for 2019, including adding more options to make what we offer more accessible for a wider range of writers.  If you want some detailed, constructive feedback from script consultants who are passionate about supporting writers, then find out more here! (don’t forget members get 20% off!).

Coming up…

As promised we have lots of new members’s content coming up this year! Our next online course, the Play Submissions Checklist, will be going live next month and we’re also planning our next members’ meetup, which will, as promised, involve the chance to get some FREE feedback on your work.

But this is not all!

Drum roll please…

New website plans!

We’re really excited to tell you that within the next couple of months, we’ll be launching our brand new (and very snazzy) website!

We’re currently working really hard to make the redesign amazing- both sites are going to be easier to navigate and contain even more fantastic resources for writers.

We can’t give too much away right now but we’ll definitely be letting a few secrets slip on our Instagram so don’t forget to give us a follow! More details to come!

New Team members

Last but not least, we’ve got a couple of new team members working on the redesign with us and cooking up some amazing new projects. Jane Ryan has joined us as our Artistic Development Manager and George Bailey (who used to be our intern) has now taken on the role of Literary Projects Manager. Read more about the team here. 

Support us

As always, we’re extremely grateful for the support from all of you, put simply, it’s what allows us to keep going! Running the organisation and creating resources which help to support writers will always cost money so we really do appreciate every penny.

If you want to help us continue in our quest to support the next generation of playwrights, there are plenty of ways to help. The easiest way is to become a member, which you can do for as little as £3.63 per month and the bonus of this is that you also get access to our growing selection of exciting member benefits! Read more about signing up here!

You can also do your shopping using our Amazon Affiliate links, it doesn’t matter what you buy, if you head to Amazon via one of our links (like this one), we’ll get a little bit back from them at no extra cost to you!

And if neither of these are options, you can still help us massively by helping us to spread the word about the work we are doing to support playwrights! Tell all your friends about us and share our stuff on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

Twitter: @LDNPlaywrights       Instagram:  londonplaywrights

Here’s to an exciting few months at LPW!

Photo by Tama Leaver via Flickr CC

How do you change the location of a play you have already written?

In this guest post, playwright Tamara von Werthern talks about the implications of changing the location of her play The White Bike, which, after its’ London Premiere in 2017, has now made its’ way to Bournemouth for a production this Spring. 

A year and a half ago, my play The White Bike premiered at The Space in East London. It was a long journey towards this production, which had begun with a couple of showcase performances at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney in 2010, and director Lily McLeish, myself and the amazing team working alongside us had our hands pretty full. In the run-up to the professional premiere of a play things can get so busy, that you can barely think about what might come afterwards.

Poster for the original run of The White Bike which took place in 2017 at The Space.

The piece was inspired by the true story of cyclist Eilidh Cairns, who was killed by a tipper truck as she cycled to work.  The play is both a call to arms to create safer environments on our roads for cycling and walking and a beautiful, fluid piece of theatre reflecting on loss and grief. It is set almost entirely on a bike, but the journey is interrupted constantly by other scenes set elsewhere.

It was not easy to produce, but under Lily’s direction, the team which included stage designer Lucy Sierra, Complicite’s sound designer Pete Malkin, Frantic Assembly’s Simon Pittman, lighting designer Dan Saggars and video artist Ellie Thompson did an outstanding job and produced a show that skips along with a light touch and still manages to pull a sucker punch. Josephine Starte was mesmerising in the lead as Isabelle and seamlessly supported by the ensemble cast who were sometimes lifting her into flight, sometimes giving her lip as a passing lorry driver, but all of them, Christopher Akrill, Helen Millar, Helen Stern and Liam Faik always on stage, making the piece sing as they switched between roles.

Production image from The White Bike, photo by Tommy Cha

As you can probably tell, I was quite awed by it all, and it made me rather protective of the play going out into the world after the last performance.

When the play was published, I included a production note in the front, which reads as follows:

‘The White Bike is set along an existing route in Hackney, East London. I made this choice because I thought it was important that people watching the play – at The Space on the Isle of Dogs , also in East London – could relate to events taking place in the real world around where they lived. In future productions of the play, I am very happy for the route to be changed to reflect the local area, in order to achieve the same effect.’

Now, this is much easier said than done. The way the play is written, the bike journey central to it sparks images and ideas in your mind and Isabelle’s flashbacks and memories have to appear in a certain order as she is travelling, she remembers early childhood, teenage adulthood, meeting her future husband, getting married, the birth of her child – in short: her life flashes before her.

Production image from The White Bike. Photo by Tommy Cha

So, while I was absolutely delighted when ImpAct Theatre in Bournemouth contacted me wanting to stage the amateur premiere of the play this coming April and May, I was also worried about how this would work practically.

I was very impressed with the insight and passion with which Patricia Richardson, the director, approached the production. She managed to get Bournemouth Borough Council’s THINK BIKE campaign on board and secured advertising on the backs of busses, which is a stroke of genius, as that is where cyclists will be most likely to see the posters.  She also put the word out through various outlets, including Sardines Magazine, and interest began to build. Speaking with her I could tell she was very serious about making the performance of my play relevant to the audience she was inviting to it. And that meant it would work much better in a local setting.

ImpAct Theatre’s production of The White Bike as advertised on local busses . Photo by Tiffany Hannam-Daniels

Looking at the play again, I realised the extent of the changes that would have to be made. Could I just let them get on with this, and ask to see the changes before they started rehearsals? I could, but I also felt that I wanted to try out if it was possible for myself to do these rewrites. Patricia Richardson, the director, was very open to co-operation and grateful for my input. We agreed that she would find a local route that would have equivalent points of interest which could spark the relevant memories.

She would walk that route herself and take pictures along the way, which she would then send to me, so I could see exactly what she was seeing when writing the replacement scenes. When I had written the original play, I had cycled the route several times with my notebook and jotted down what had caught my eye, so I was used to working in this way.

What I hadn’t anticipated was that by seeing photos, I felt that I could really feel myself into the different locations, it felt as if I was there and this experience allowed me to expand on the original play. One of the new locations felt even more fitting to what I wanted to achieve with the scene set there than the London setting. In the original there is an important point in the journey when Isabelle turns off a main road and joins the canal path. The change in sound-scape and atmosphere was remarkable and I wanted to create a feeling of peace as well as freedom. The cleaner air, the lack of danger from passing vehicles, as well as what she sees: the houseboats, the ducks, the water rippling, all contribute to this.

In Bournemouth, there is no canal, but, in many ways even better, there’s the open sea, and a marked cycle path leading along the promenade. I have always loved being by the sea, and to me this is the ultimate feeling of freedom, it allows your mind to open up in a wonderful way. So rewriting the canal scene by the sea made me very happy. It was important to have the pictures though, so that I didn’t ‘invent’ a seaside that I remembered from elsewhere, and it was incredibly powerful to see details such as a child’s bucket and spade that were left behind on the sand.

Photograph by Patricia Richardson

 

Over a few weeks of photos being sent one way and snippets the other we had, bit by bit, replaced all the locations and made the play local to Bournemouth. I was really happy both with the process and the result. There was one last challenge to overcome though: One scene is set in a club which then leads to a description of the different London-based places Isabelle went out in, as her taste in music changes and she grows up. Having lived in London myself from the age of twenty, I could piece that together fairly easily, but I had no idea of how to approach this with a city where I had never lived.

Patricia Richardson was also not able to provide me with ideas of her own in this particular field. But luckily, I remembered that my sister-in-law had lived in Bournemouth around the time the scene was set, and her partner was involved in the Indie music scene there. I asked for his help and was not disappointed – he sent me an in-depth record of where she could have gone at which age, which pubs would be good to start a pub-crawl in and where you could go to dance. He even provided some authentic details of the places where everyone was smuggling vodka in to top up their drinks. Just the inside knowledge I needed to give the scene local colour and make it believable.

So, would I do it again? Yes, I would. I do believe strongly in the importance of specificity when it comes to setting, but in the same way that a script is really just the blueprint to a production, each new production team has to be given the chance to make the piece their own and for it to be placed where it is played, if that serves the story line.

I have booked my train tickets and can’t wait to see the show at the Shelley Theatre in May. It feels as if somehow my journey with the play has come full circle now, and I am so pleased that this story which is so important to me, is being told again, by other people, somewhere else.

There was a quote in a review from Croydon Cycle Theatre after the production at the Space, which went: ‘I really hope The White Bike is performed again and again all over the country, and I want everyone to see it.’

With this production at the Layard Theatre 16-17 April and then The Shelley Theatre 30 April – 1 May, the play’s onward journey has begun. On 3 – 5 May it will also be shown at the Scaffold Theatre at Bodens Performing Arts School in London (no rewrites needed!) and I hope many more companies will pick it up after this.

 

LPW Play Club #1 – Far Away by Caryl Churchill

To kick off our #PlayClub project, this month we’re reading….

Far Away by Caryl Churchill

Caryl Churchill’s Far Away is a play that looks at conflict and its unsettling effect on our lives, and on our humanity. It was first performed at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London, on 24 November 2000 and is currently a set text for AS/A Level Drama (WJEC). It explores fear, humanity and the effects of war.

Submissions

As we mentioned previously, we challenge you to write a short, 10 page play (12 font size, please!) in direct response to what you’ve read.

We will accept submissions from LPW members only, so if you’re not one yet but are wanting to submit – what’re you waiting for? It costs less than a cup of coffee a month and you get a whole host of exclusive benefits! Details of how to sign up can be found here.

Our submission window in response to Far Away will be open from
Wednesday 3rd – Sunday 28th April  so please don’t send us scripts before then!

An email will be sent your way once the window is open with full details of how to submit, including; where to send it, our format guidelines and some top tips.

But until then, happy reading for this month, and don’t forget to join the Facebook group discussion!

How to sign up

Play submissions for this project are exclusively for our members (you can sign up for less than 4 quid though and you’ll be helping to support the next generation of playwrights if you do!)

You’re also more than welcome to just read the plays and join in some discussion with us about them on the members Facebook group! We’ll open up a discussion forum on there at the same time we open for submissions, so don’t feel you have to write a play, you’re absolutely fine to just read too.

If you’re not a member yet, sign up now and follow the link as above.

Image source: Nick Hern Books/Royal Court (Far Away Cover) 

Among Angels: A Playwright’s Journey (from first play to full production)

In this guest post, playwright Timothy Graves reflects on the journey of writing his first play: from the initial inspiration to producing it at the Courtyard Theatre for a four week run this April. 

‘Never are we nearer the Light than when darkness is deepest.’

Among Angels’ is my first play.

I have written two novels before – ‘Homo Jihad’ and ‘Pharmakeia’ – both published by Paradise Press. ‘Homo Jihad’ was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. I have also written a memoir, ‘Human Angel’ which is awaiting publication.

Among Angels’ was my first ever venture into playwriting. I had studied Drama and English Literature at Exeter University many years ago and, more recently, completed a professional actor training at The City Lit. I think both my actor training and rediscovering a love for live theatre later in life, helped prepare the ground for me to embark on the playwright’s journey.

My inspiration for writing the play came from various sources.

Many years ago, I guess you could say I had what those in psychotherapeutic circles might call a ‘transpersonal’ experience. Those more spiritually inclined would probably view it as a mystical encounter. All I remember at the time was just an overwhelming angelic presence. Writing ‘Among Angels’ was, in part, my way of honouring that experience.

Although ‘Among Angels’ is predominantly focused on the Chemsex issue in the LGBTQ+ community and the protagonist, Chris Johnson, is forced to deal with a set of traumatic given circumstances that would break many a strong-willed person, there are angels in the play – gay angels to be precise – who come to his rescue.

I also knew the playwright Sarah Kane quite well and was inspired by her writing and her ability, at times, to use personally traumatic experiences as a source of inspiration to create great art; the personal  is also powerful and political. Kane explored the darker aspects of the human psyche and often communicated this to an audience in poetic form. In ‘Among Angels’ there is a chorus of angels who, at times, break the fourth wall and directly address the audience. When they do so, they often speak in verse.

But addiction and not psychosis – as in Kane’s ‘4.48 Psychosis’ – is the territory of ‘Among Angels.’ Addiction to methamphetamine or crystal meth to be specific. Theatre will always play an important role in reflecting and exploring what the lived human experience is all about. Narrative will always continue to explore, in different ways, the interplay between light and dark.     

Other sources of inspiration come from various plays I have seen.

The Inheritance’ by Matthew Lopez, moved me to tears. The writing was heart-felt and like many other members of the audience at The Young Vic last year, I was deeply affected by the dramatic representation  of gay men, towards the end of the first half of the play, who had died during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s.

The fact that these gay men were spirits – and of course there are the angels in ‘Angels in America’ – I feel added a further dimension to the work and was an incredible example of how theatre can transport an audience through crossing boundaries; in this case the boundary between this world and the next.

Granted, a Shakespearean audience would, on the whole, have believed in the fairies, the witchcraft and the magic. But despite our modern technology and scientific discoveries, I still feel there is a propensity for a modern-day audience to suspend disbelief and enter into that magical ‘what if’ state of mind. There is, I believe, still the need to challenge an audience’s ontological beliefs.

I wrote the first draft of ‘Among Angels’ during the summer months of last year.

I find morning the best time to write – after breakfast and a strong coffee. I generally feel refreshed from sleep and my mind is alert. I also may have had certain breakthroughs pertaining to certain characters, relationships or narrative structure through dreams – the wisdom and insight  of which can quickly dissipate during the day; an early start to writing helps to minimise this.

In September, I participated in a short ‘Page to Stage’ course at The Arcola Theatre in Dalston.

Run by Rebecca Jones, this course proved to be a baptism of fire on the production side of things. Even though myself and other emerging playwrights on the course were often only showcasing the first few scenes of a full-length play, we were responsible for sourcing props, costume, casting the actors, hiring rehearsal space, finding a director and liaising with the sound and lighting designer.

This was an invaluable experience on two levels: Firstly, it gave me the confidence to produce my own play. So when the Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton became interested in ‘Among Angels’, I was ready to take responsibility for producing the play In addition, watching the opening of my play at ‘The Arcola’ was an interesting, if somewhat uncomfortable experience. I realised that I didn’t want my play to open in the way that it did! One thing was certain – a major redraft was on the cards…

Attending a short LPW course run by Kimberley Andrews, playwright and playwrighting tutor at RADA, was invaluable.

Kimberley gave excellent feedback during the course and was incredibly insightful in respect to characterisation, themes and narrative structure. She went out of her way to read initial and subsequent redrafts and meet individually with students to help with the editing process; without her input ‘Among Angels’ would not be the play it is today. She recommended I take time to reflect on the inciting incident of the play which was excellent advice because now the play has a much clearer through-line for the audience.

With some initial reluctance, I also ‘killed off’ two of the characters and cut entire scenes from the second half of the play. I also added a final scene which was inspired by a short by Mark Ravenhill, ‘The Mikado’. An inanimate object in the second half of the play is also now deeply imbued with symbolic meaning and relates to the backstory and history of the two lovers  – which gives a greater resonance and emotional depth to the play.

I think there is a time to work in solitude on a play and  be protective of the unfolding creative process – usually during the first draft, when ideas are germinating and the creative juices are flowing. And there is a time for workshopping and getting feedback. In the latter part of the writing process, I also think it is important who is actually giving advice and suggestions and how they are doing it. If it is done well, constructively with insight and informed by a knowledge and understanding of what works well on stage, the feedback will strike a chord and give one the impetus to edit and reshape in a way that feels right.

Plays come in all shapes and sizes. Some are two-handers. Others more epic in scale. Some seek to entertain. Others, more to challenge. Naturalism may be the best vehicle for some material whereas different dramatic styles will be more appropriate to other material. A skilled dramaturg or consultant in the dramatic arts will be supportive of and encourage a diverse range and variety of different dramatic forms.

Among Angels’, to a certain extent, plays with theatrical form: The fourth wall is broken, the narrative timeline is non-linear, there is a modern-day chorus that raps about the dangers associated with methamphetmaine, most of the cast play multiple characters, and yes – there are angels! During the short course at LPB, I was made to feel that these were some of the strengths inherent in the work; and for this I am truly grateful.

My advice to anyone who is writing their first play…

You have to love the shared experience of live theatre and its’ potential to be a transformative experience in order to write for it. And yes, some theatre doesn’t quite hit the mark. But isn’t it interesting when it doesn’t?! What can we, as emerging playwrights, also take from these experiences, that will help us to write plays that will engage, empower and challenge our audiences even more?

I would also recommend that, at some point in the journey of giving birth to a play, it’s probably a good idea to get some constructive feedback from someone you trust and who knows their stuff! And finally – as with all forms of creative writing – don’t be scared to go to those places that a part of you might be reluctant to go to. Therein, often lies the creative power and the inspiration. After all, more often than not, what do we do as writers – of novels, poems or plays – do but dig deep down into our guts and serve up a portion of ourselves for the greater good of the wider community.

Timothy Graves is currently seeking publication for ‘Among Angels’ which opens on the main stage at The Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton, London on 3rd April for a four week run. It is directed by Peter Taylor, director of the award-winning play ‘Glitter Punch’, and performed by Seraphim Theatre Company. BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE. 

@timothygraves69  @SeraphimCompany