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



Each week I will be posting an exercise to get everyone writing.

So the first exercise for January is Pitching.

Pitching is a term used in TV and film though increasingly it is referred to in radio and theatre in fact any medium. In the real world  it is a highly pressurised few minutes when a writer is given the opportunity to “sell” a project. As a writer you need to be able to sell your ideas to get commissions or get people involved in your project but also you need to be able to sell your idea to yourself too.

Putting yourself in the position of pitching your idea is a useful exercise to put yourself through. Telling people about your ideas or practising telling people about your ideas forces a half-built idea, shadowy characters, loose images to form into something more concrete. As you talk through the idea you will find the flaws, you will sense when you lose a persons interest as their eyes glaze over. Something that seemed genius swirling around in your head becomes banal, pointless, obvious when you have to explain it to someone and you realise that your idea needs more work.

Practise pitching – talk out loud about the idea as though you are talking to someone. Pitch to anyone at the slightlest opportunity – friends, colleagues. Next time someone asks you what you do – tell them you’re a writer then pitch your idea.

For this exercise I want you to imagine a theatre director or company has asked you about your latest play. How would you sell the idea to them? Explain to them why they should commission your play.  Practise your pitch verbally and then write it down.

A few things to think about when you think about your pitch are the following;

Who are the main characters?
What is the basic outline of story and plot?
What is the structure?
What are the themes of the play?
What is the style of the play?
What does your main character want?
What is stopping them getting what they want?
How will the world of the play be changed by them getting or not getting what they want?
What is the play about?
What is the central question of the play?
Why do you want to write it?
Why is it important to write this play now?
What do you want your audience to take from it?

And this exercise is as useful at the start of writing a play as it is during and at the end.

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.

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.







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.

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 – 3

We now need to expand the story and the plot of the play.

Find a large piece of paper (A3 at the very least) and take 20 minutes to answer the do the following. Again do this quickly. Answer one then move on quickly.

Draw a time-line across the centre of the piece of paper. Answer each question then put it onto the time-line

  • What is the central event?
  • What has happened five minutes before?
  • What happens five minutes after?
  • What happens 10 minutes before?
  • What happens 10 minutes after?
  • What happens 30 minutes before?
  • What happens 30 minutes after?
  • What happens 1 hour before?
  • What happens 1 hour after?

Depending on your time scale. You can do whatever time you want to?
One day, one week, one month, one year?  Draw out the time line according to the time line of your play.

Now look at your central point on the line – think of three other things that could happen rather than the event you’ve chosen. Go through each point and do the same.

By the end of this you should have a story and a plot of your play. You may find that the start of the play is different to where you previously thought.