October Meeting

In the October session we welcomed two new members to the group and talked through all the projects coming up in the future including the deadlines for plays.

Playpen project – Deadline for 1st drafts 13th November. Further info here https://writingforperformancegroup.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/future-project-1-playpen/

Writing for Radio project Deadline for 1st drafts February. Further info here https://writingforperformancegroup.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/future-projects-2-writing-for-radio-drama/

We then did an exercise. We each created two character names, first our least favourite name for a person and second our favourite name. We then gave away one of those names to someone else in the group. We then created characters based on these names. We then gave away one of the characters to someone in the group.

We then created a setting and imagined these two characters meeting for the first time. We wrote 20 lines of dialogue between these characters. We then thought about what happened just before and what happened just after this initial meeting. We then created three main key story points – what is the inciting incident that kicks the play off, what is the mid-point of the play and what is the end scene or obligatory scene.

Novembers session is the deadline for first drafts of plays for Playpen – by first drafts this could be a very rough draft, maybe just beginning. However full drafts ready for workshop need to be completed by 4th  December ready for read through in the December writing group session and  there will be a workshop session on December.

Rehearsals for Playpen will be taking place in January so final drafts for rehearsals to be complete by 7th January.

The Playpen project is a very difficult one to produce with at least 8 if not more, 20 minute plays being produced over two nights, each needing a director and a cast and all being rehearsed separately so the sooner you have the idea drafted and ready to go the easier you make it for the producer, the director and the cast.


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.

August Writing Group write up

In the August meeting of the Writing for Performance Group we looked at two scripts from the group; a short play by Tony Jones and the beginning of a play from Sandra Bendelow.

If anyone who didn’t make it along to the group wants to read and pass on any comments to the writers then feel free to do so. It is always useful to have more comments but more importantly reading others scripts and thinking about what works and what doesn’t will ALWAYS make you a better writer.

One member of the group, Catrin Fflur Huws, also shared two ideas, first a pitch for a new short play and secondly an idea that is part of the re-write of a play which involves a major piece of re-structuring. In addition Catrin has since shared the latest draft of her play To Kill A Machine. Please do take the time to read and we will talk a little more about the latest draft in the next meeting of the writing group. If you’re not sure you have time, or feel hesitant about sharing your views then please see above comment.

We discussed Town with No Traffic Wardens and whether we should or shouldn’t take the play forward for further development. After lots of discussion it was agreed that we should do a similar project which could include characters from Town with No Traffic Warden but we’ll find a new subject relevant to Aberystwyth. It was suggested that we could possibly use an existing story or play as base on which to adapt. It was also agreed that we would approach the writing of the play from a more collaborative perspective from the very start. We will begin to look at how we will approach this very soon but in the meantime everyone needs to get ideas and suggestions for the core idea for this play to the group as soon as possible. We need to think big initially, an idea that is relevant to Aberystwyth whilst having a universality to it too. Also everyone needs to think of plays or stories that could possibly be used as an underlying format for the play we write together. This play will be the project for the group in October/November next year.

We then did the following writing exercise, this should be done as automatic writing, don’t think about it just write. Give yourself the time pressure even if you do it alone. You can go back to it afterwards, tidy it up or develop it. But stick to the time constraint.

Take 5 minutes to write down as many words, phrases, sentences that you can think of when you hear the phrase – After the Party

Give yourself ten minutes and create two characters, one at a time, five minutes each, using the following questions, answer each question with a sentence or two only.

What is their name?

What is their physiology? (age, build, looks etc)

What is their sociology? (job, money, where do you live, marital status, family class, etc)

What is their psychology? (what are their concerns, fears, interests, passions, character flaws/strengths etc)

What is their flaw? What is stopping them getting what they want? (internal)

What is their goal? What does the character want? (internal)

Once you’ve created the two characters answer the following for both characters taking five minutes

Where are they?

What are they carrying?

What was the darkest dream they had last night?

What would they like to do to the other character?

Now take ten minutes and write twenty lines of dialogue, very fast, beginning a scene in which your characters meet. Write very fast – write the very first thing your brain throws up, even if it’s rude or boring or rubbish. A physical character-action counts as a line of dialogue.

For the next session – look at your scene again. Identify the moments where your character has acted, in some way. Where they’ve slagged off the other character, where they’ve retreated, where they’ve counter-attacked, where they’ve moved in for a reconciliation, where they’ve gone in for the kill.

Return to that first moment of decisive action. List four alternative things the character could have done. Instead of hitting him, could she smear his glasses up his face or kiss his eyelids.

The next meeting of the writing for performance group will take place on Tuesday 11th September in the RECORDING STUDIO. Please bring along anything that you want to be read, or send out in advance any work that you’d like the group to discuss.

Please try to bring along something whether it’s a re-worked version of the exercise we did last week, a piece of writing you are working on or an idea you would like to talk through.

Please remember to think about Town with No…..which we’ll call it until it gets a name and bring along any suggestions.

The deadlines for radio plays and the PlayPen project are getting closer, just a few months away, so if you haven’t come up with an idea yet GET THINKING. Then get writing and then write some more.

Remember a writer WRITES.

The writing exercises were from rewriter by Paul Chitlik and the Bruntwood playwriting site by Ben Musgrave.

After the Party is the theme of the next ScriptSlam at Sherman Cymru the deadline is 19th September further details are here.


Next session Tuesday 20th July

The next meeting of the Writing for Performance group at Aberystwyth Arts Centre will take place on Tuesday 20th July 7.30 – 9.30. This month we’re meeting in the recording studio.

As always if anyone has work to share then please bring it along, whether it’s one page or a full length play. If it’s a longer piece though try to send it out to the group to give everyone in the group time to read it.

If you have a scene or a few pages you’re working on and would like it hear it read out then bring it along.

If you have ideas on you mind then why not pitch to the group. It’s always useful to have to explain the idea and to hear other’s thoughts and feedback even when it’s at an early stage of development. So why not talk us through your ideas for PlayPen or for the radio writing project.

This month I also want you to think about the following and share your thoughts with the group; what are your weaknesses as a writer? what are the things you struggle with the most? what area do you think you need to develop?

Finally a reminder that in August we will be looking back on Town with No Traffic Wardens and exploring how we take the project forward in order to do this then we need to think about which characters stories need to be carried through, what structure can we use, what process should be use to take it forward. Dylan Thomas’s Under Milkwood was mentioned so if you haven’t read, seen or heard this play then try to do this before the session on 14th August.

We will also be doing a little exercise on shaping a character arc, so if you want to get the most from the exercise then make sure you have a character who is quite developed in your mind or on paper for either a theatre or radio idea. A writing exercise to help you develop the character is here

Please try to bring something with you for the July session so that everyone has something to share, talk about or read.