Interested in writing for radio?

Aberystwyth Arts Centre has invited two leading playwrights Alan Harris and Dan Rebellato to Aberystwyth to lead radio writing masterclasses. The masterclasses will take place on Sunday 21st October and Sunday 11th November.

Alan Harris is a playwright and new writing tutor who teaches the advance writing programme at Sherman Cymru. His radio plays include “The Gold Farmer” which was nominated for the Imison Award. He has worked extensively with companies including Pentabus, Hijinx Theatre, Sherman Cymru and Paines Plough. His play “A Good Night out in the Valleys” launched the new National Theatre Wales in 2010.

Dan Reballato is a playwright and Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Royal Holloway.  He has written extensively for radio including “My Life is a Series of People saying Goodbye” and includes adaptations of “Gogol’s Dead Souls” and “Girlfriend in a Coma” .  He has been shortlisted twice for a Sony Award for radio writing. His plays for theatre include “Chekov in Hell”, “Mile End” and “Here’s what I did with my Body”.

Gill Ogden, Head of Performing Arts at Aberystwyth Arts Centre said, ‘Aberystwyth Arts Centre is extremely thrilled to have writers of the calibre of Alan Harris and Dan Reballato teaching as part of its creative writing programme. This is a great opportunity for local writers with some experience  or those interested in taking it up for the first time.’

Alan Harris Masterclass – Sunday October 21st 2- 5pm £15

Dan Rebellato Masterclass – Sunday November 11th 2-5pm £15

The classes are taking place in partnership with Aberystwyth University department of Theatre, Film and TV Studies with the support of Literature Wales.

Book through the Arts Centre box office 01970 623232 /www.aber.ac.uk/artscentre or in person prior to the workshop days.

The town with too many rats

The group has now decided that though Town with No Traffic Wardens will not go on to be developed but instead the group will again look to write a project about Aberystwyth. This does not mean that the plays, sketches and scenes from TWNTW are dead. These could be developed into individual plays, characters could be resurrected, settings could be transplanted. Maybe Chardonnay has gone on to find her perfect job, maybe the traffic warden and the angry restaurant supply man have got married, maybe the OCD supermarket manager has finally succeeded in getting a supermarket in town.

Over the next few months in the background whilst we work on Playpen and the radio project we’ll continue to explore how to write a project for Aberystwyth.

We’ve discussed the potential to create a set of characters collectively alongside an overall story but then each member of the group is then asked to take responsibility for part of the story which would inevitably mean that everyone writes for characters created by another writer which could be problematic. However it could also be an interesting challenge.

We have also discussed finding an existing story such as Dylan Thomas’s Under Milkwood or the Pied Piper to create a base on which to build a story about Aberystwyth.

Over the next few months I’ll be asking each member of the group to lead the group in exercises about developing the Rats project. Basically to approach  the development process in the way you feel would be the most productive and focusing on whichever area you feel would be the most effective maybe character, structure, adaptation, research, stories. These exercises will be aimed at finding the subject matter and the approach.

In thinking about what we can use as stimuli and starting points the group were asked to make suggestions in the following categories,
Settings – favourite and least favourite places in Aberystwyth
Characters – who are the characters you see out and about in Aberystwyth
Ideas – political changes, things that could impact Aberystwyth
Phrases – sentences, a line of dialogue, an overheard sentence
Visual Images – an image that might combine a setting and a character, or a character doing something,

These are what the group came up with. Can you think of anymore?
SETTINGS
bridge in PwllCrwn woods, bridge next to Rummers, national library, footpath next to TA, corner in the Ship and Castle, look-out at the Castle, bench on top of the Castle, bench in the train station, folk music night at Coopers, under the Pier, the road leading to Welsh Books Council,
PHRASES
small world, secret places, you don’t do that in Aberystwyth, who wears heels in Aberystwyth, end of the road, does nobody tell them to use soap, who does she think she is?, where the mountains meet the sea, impossible to leave whichever way you try, nutters always drift West – it’s something to do with the leylines, the last resort, how young do they look?, six degrees? You must be joking it’s not even a U-grade or a GCSE in separation, I mean the sea just goes on and on and on, backwards, it’s like living in a bubble, hard to cry out for help, where did you go to school?
IDEAS
end of the world, the western end of the western world, settlers, an epidemic of rats,
CHARACTERS
Campus bingo players, spew boy, talkative porters, taxi driver, Rabbi, hells angels, hairdresser, 4 wet people from Birmingham, photographer who gets everywhere, old lady in a florescent bonnet, man who spouts nothing in particular, woman in mobility scooter with sheep, fat goth/thin goth lesbian couple, someone on crutches, scrawny looking people with dogs who look like pipe cleaners, well upholstered women of a certain age, Kimberley with big thighs & big knockers, pompous students, drowned boy,
IMAGES
driftwood, a man in a hedge,

As an exercise select two characters, a setting then either a phrase, an image or an idea. Give yourself five minutes. Create a scene from these elements. Give yourself 30 minutes. Create the scene before and the scene after. Re-write the whole thing.

Writers on tour

As part of the ongoing development of the Town with No… project, or Rats as it’s
new working title will be, and in an attempt to get everyone writing for the
Playpen and radio projects, the group will be going out into Aberystwyth for
some special one-off events looking for writing stimuli in some very exciting
locations in town.  Details will be revealed at the next meeting on Tuesday October 9th.

To Kill a Machine Fund-a-Performance-Night

In November the very first Scriptography Productions Fund-a-Performance-Night will be taking place to raise funds for the presentation of To Kill A Machine by Catrin Fflur Huws.

As part of that night we will be presenting a few short plays, Catrin has set the theme of these plays as a play that must include the Alan Turing quote “we can see only a short distance ahead but we can see that there is plenty to be done”.

The play should have no more than two actors either two men, two women or a man and a woman and should be no longer than 10 minutes. If you want to take part then get writing.

Events and Deadlines

This week,  Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Writing for Radio Masterclass with Alan Harris Sunday 21st October

Writing for Radio Masterclass with Dan Rebellato Sunday 11th November

Playpen project – Deadline for 1st drafts 13th November. Further info here

Writing for Radio project Deadline for 1st drafts February. Further info here

September Meeting

At the September meeting of the group Branwen Davies talked the group through a few development projects in which she has participated.. One asked the writers to give their favourite and least favourite names. The actors involved were then asked to use the names to create the character. The writers then developed pieces using these characters.

An interesting approach because it would invariably produce extremely nice or nasty characters. For me as a writer I know that naming a character is often difficult and often change once a character is further down the line of development. It’s also an interesting approach to creating a stimuli – to be handed a character effectively created by someone else.

Branwen also talked about the recent Sherman Swingers project in which each writer selected through a system of keys; a space, a set of performers (sometimes one performer sometimes more) an object and a director. The writer was then sent into the space to write so that the space and object became the stimuli for the writing with the very tight restriction of 3 minutes. After an evening locked into the space the piece was then rehearsed and presented to the audience who were asked to move from one to the other seeing the piece in the space in which it was written.

This gives us a few approaches; space, objects and characters as stimuli. Can you think of other ways of creating stimuli for writing? What do you use as stimuli in your writing?

Branwen also talked about her writing process usually she just starts to write, characters don’t have names, she doesn’t plan out structure she just writes. What is your writing process? What works, doesn’t work for you? If you were asked to give advice to a beginning writer what would be the five tips that you would give them?

As an exercise why not try using these stimuli to generate a new play. Think of your favourite and least favourite name for a person. Tell a friend, partner or random stranger the name and let them tell you what that character is like. Now give yourself 5 minutes, let these two characters meet for the first time or for a significant meeting and write 20 lines of dialogue. Now give yourself 30 minutes and write a scene of what happens before and what happens after. Then go back and re-write the whole thing. That took no more than an hour so no excuses for not doing it.

As another exercise why not try using a space as stimuli. Go to a place in Aberystwyth – a place you either hate or love or a place you have never been to before. Sit in the space. Give yourself five minutes and write as fast as you can words, phrases, sentences that come to find. Now create either 1, 2 or 3 characters using your favourite way to create a character. Think about what could happen in your space with those characters. Now give yourself 5 minutes and write 20 lines of dialogue. Now take 30 minutes and write a scene before the one you just wrote and one after. Now rewrite the whole thing.

So you’ve done both these exercises they should have taken you no more than two hours and you have two new short plays.

For the next writing group please can everyone bring at least one piece of work to share in the group either an idea to pitch or a draft of a short play currently being written for Playpen, radio project.

OR the exercise above responding to stimuli of space or character

OR take the Alan Turing – Catrin Fflur Huws challenge

OR do the Rats exercise

As always group members can and are positively encouraged to bring any work currently being written for a reading or for feedback. If it’s longer than 15 minutes then please send it out in advance to give people time to read them in time for the next meeting on 9th October.