EarCandy

EarThe latest project from the group, EarCandy is an audio drama project from a web-platform.
You can listen to all the plays and watch interviews with the writers at the Earcandy website

EarCandy is a audio drama project created by the Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s Writing for Performance Group featuring 12 short plays recorded in Aberystwyth Arts Centre and in locations around Aberystwyth.

The plays are available from a web-platform and the project also includes social media interfaces of additional material including interviews with the writers and interviews with characters from the plays.

The 12 plays written by 13 writers, include over 50 characters played by the 15 performers.

Cursed by Sandra Bendelow, Lost by Branwen Davies, The Planning Stage by Matt Christmas, Blood in Brecon by Christopher T. Harris, The Constant Hunger of the Troll Under the Bridge by Catrin Fflur Huws, The Extension by Carmel George, Surge by Tracey Goddard and Julie Grady Thomas, Burn The Rich by Tony Jones,  My Mother Told me by Rachel McAdam, Duck by Debbie Moon, Starlings by Sarah Taylor, Rules are Rules by Dean Scott.

Follow the project www.facebook.com/earcandyaudiodrama or @earcandy_plays

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.

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.

 

Lessons on character, story and writing from the heart

In the July group meeting we shared our thoughts on challenges we faced in our writing and our weaknesses, so here are a few links aimed at those weakness and challenges. The ones that seemed to emerge the most were – developing character and story and getting the structure right.

Events Vs Actions and Structure Breakdown of Breaking Bad Pilot Episode from the Story Department

Story questionnaire and Character questionnaire on Script Lab

The Principles of Writing Radio by Tim Crook

A lesson on writing this week from Joss Whedon, talking about the cancellation of Firefly and not been able to tell the stories of Shepherd Book and Anara – write the stories that you are so passionate about that even ten years later, thinking about the stories you didn’t get to tell, will still haunt you.

Future Project #1 PlayPen

Following their sell out showcase Town with No Traffic Wardens the next writers group project at Aberystwyth Arts Centre will be two evenings of 20 minute plays as script-in-hand rehearsed readings. PlayPen will take place in February 2012 on two consecutive Thursday evenings.

The deadlines for rehearsals drafts is 7th January and workshop drafts have to completed by 4th December.

The deadline for 1st drafts is 13th November.

As we have had two projects about subjects chosen for the group PlayPen is about letting your imagination run free and writing about any subject so other than no-longer than 20 minutes there are no rules. It can be on any subject, any style and have any number of characters. However having said there are  no rules then the first guidance I would offer is don’t make it difficult for yourself. 12 characters might be a little difficult if not impossible! However if you want to have 12 characters no-one is going to stop you.

Tips
1. Develop your characters – we’ve done lots of character development exercises so there is no excuses for underdeveloped characters.

2. Develop your structure – we’ve also done lots of exercises on structuring plays so think carefully about the structure of your play

3. Challenge yourself – if you’ve only written monologues before then write a dialogue, if you’ve only written static plays before try to write one with real physicality and movement, if you usually write short scenes then write longer ones, if you usually write comedy then try out that darker tone, if your last play had a male protagonist then write for a female protagonist

4. Show your voice – this is a rule free showcase so write what you’re passionate about, don’t write for others, don’t write for an imagined audience this is your chance to show-off your unique voice

5. Don’t write for a script-in-hand – this is a chance to write a one act play that can add to your portfolio and be sent to competitions so don’t just think about what will work as a script-in-hand

6. Think about your medium – this isn’t radio, film or TV this is theatre so write for theatre

7. See or read plays

8. See or read some more plays

9. See or read even more plays

10. Stop making excuses and get writing. The only way you will find out if that idea works is to get it written. If it doesn’t work then it will need rewriting. If it does work it will need re-writing. Then it will need some more re-writing. So basically the main thing you should be doing is writing.

Getting Started – 1

With the deadline for plays for Town with No Traffic Wardens getting closer I thought it might me good to remind everyone of a few of the exercises since the group started.

These exercises have been begged, borrowed, stolen, adapted and corrupted from a variety of sources but mainly Kaite O’Reilly and Noel Greig’s Playwriting:  A Practical Guide

All the exercises work better if you give yourself a time limit initially, you can go back and expand later but for now – give yourself 3 minutes for this first one.

Let’s create or develop a character. Think of a character, either one you’re working on or have a go at plucking one from your imagination now. Start the timer – and go!

What is their gender?
What is their age?
What is their ethnicity
What is their name?
Three physical characteristics (maybe appearance, mannerism, tone of voice etc)?
What are they wearing?
Where does their money comes from (work or otherwise)?
What sort of accommodation they live in?
Where exactly on the world map is that accommodation?
is there something they lack in life?
Is there something they need right now?
Do they have a secret?
Do they have a problem?
What do they believe?
What is their wish?
Where are they right now?
What they are doing at this very moment?
What they are thinking or saying at this very moment?

List three other things you know about them ?
What else do you want to ask that character from the answers they have given above?