Pitching

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.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Spread the Word from Catrin Fflur Huws

The Arts Centre initially advertised Spread the Word as a course. Courses are good. I like courses. I can do courses. I’ve been in educational establishments for 31 years of my life. My parents are teachers. Courses are not a problem. At the bottom of the advert, there was a ‘ more information contact…’line. I contacted, naturally thinking that it would lead me to a motley collection of people whose new year resolution was ‘be more creative.’ The more information turned out to be ‘send us a sample of your work’ and we’ll pick the best 8 people. I nearly didn’t. I’d never written a play before. Well, there was a nativity play, performed by eight care bears, a cuddly rabbit and a stuffed dog, but I was eight years old then, and the only audience was members of my own family, and I was an only child so there was no-one to tell me to shut up. Admittedly I had written some framing stories for plays, but that had meant taking a character (Pa Ubu) invented by a fourteen year old who later went around Paris on a unicycle and painted green (Alfred Jarry), and turning it into a plot. It wasn’t exactly  a play…with characters…and serious things happening. So the thought of sending my work to a professional theatre company – let me repeat that with punctuation for effect. A Professional. Theatre Company. The thought of sending my work to a professional theatre company was a very stupid idea indeed. I mean, I know people who put down ‘writer’ as part of their description of themselves. When you ask them they say ‘I write.’ I usually say ‘I play the piano in a whorehouse’ but only because I heard it in a joke about 15 years ago, or I say ‘David Cameron is my pimp.’ I’m not a writer or a playwright or anything like that. I can’t send stuff to a professional theatre company. I continued in this vein for about three months I think, until a bout of reckless good humour compelled me to press ‘send.’

My word! I got picked! I concluded at this stage that nobody else had applied, they had mistaken me for someone else. They liked my joke about The Oligarchy of Turbot. Much delight! Merriment!  Ride this cloud till it terminates at Wolverhampton!

Session 1

General introductions. It turned out I knew most of the people from the performance writing group. Hi Sandra! Hi Tony! Hi Carmel! Hi Debbie! Still, I did learn something useful and that is that one of my strengths as a writer is that I have a very unusual view of the world. You see, I think what I see is patently obvious. Mainly I think the Government is weird. Does everybody else not think that then? Ok I’ll sit here quietly.

Our homework was taping a conversation. Hmm. Ethically dodgy this, but I overheard a conversation and tried to transcribe it as best I could. Oddly It resonated with a lot of people and when we had to take the dialogues and turn them into a script a lot of people adopted my story about a little old man who had mislaid his wife. It was potentially comic, potentially tragic, tragi-comic, bittersweet. Was he a sad forgetful old man or a cantankerous old bugger? I wrote a comedy court scene – based on a real case but premised on the notion that the defendant too the view that everyone was taking all of this just a bit too seriously, and could he not just buy the policeman a pint. This was fun this.

Session 3

By session 3 we were having to think of ‘the play.’ I had two ideas. One was simple. It was about unemployment, very playey, nice structure – showing that I could apply everything we had learned. Then there was idea 2. A play about Alan Turing. Which would be hard. And would require lots of research. And a realistic portrayal of a real person. Who is a hero to a lot of people. And there’s mathematics. Very complex. An important thing to do, but obviously well beyond my capabilities. ‘Write that one!’ ‘Write the Turing play’ was the  universal response from the rest of the group. My ‘but, but, but’ fell on deaf ears. The gauntlet had been laid down.

The next day I was printing off copies of Alan Turing’s academic papers on computable numbers and machines that can think. The computer scientist to whom I am married was dead impressed. Me I was blooming terrified.

Session 4

The pitch. At this point I have the earworm of Spectacular Spectacular from Moulin Rouge! going round my head. The pitch is thinking about what it’s about, how many characters, what their role is. We were introduced to the idea of the complete metaphor. It became a bit of a catchphrase. Apparently, plays with a complete metaphors are extra good. So we looked for metaphors. Fortunately, Alan Turing’s life was full of them. Apples. Machines.

I had 8 characters at this point – 6 men and 2 women. However it occurred to me that everyone bar Alan was a cipher (pun quite clearly intended! Insert canned laughter.) so I began to pair them up. The lover, The Friend, The Woman, The Government. Looking at it in the cold light of December , I realised that pairing up Alan’s mother and his fiancee looked a bit Freudian. Every man wants a mummy and all that. So I deliberately derailed that train of thought. Are all these characters necessary? Perhaps not. Many characters may be harmed in the making of this play.

Session 5

By session 5, everyone was beginning to apply some theatrical technique to their thinking. Could this scene be written without having A and B taking it in turns to deliver long monologues? Did A need to make a cup of tea in order to give B the opportunity to tell her something vital? Is this a complete metaphor or a disjointed slice of people’s loves What do people actually say to each other in a homosexual love scene? We also discussed the lock in day. It begins with a tutorial. I took the plunge and went in first.

Lock in day

It began with my tutorial. My piece was apparently expressionist. Manet was an expressionist, so I presume it means that I have to put on a black dress and sit in front of a distorted mirror in a bar. The distorted mirror thing is not actually that flippant. I was advised that my piece would be stronger by not making it ‘slice of real world’ stuff. A bit like a Fritz Lang movie. My structure helped – the Easter story was a ready-made framework, so it was simply a matter of fitting Alan Turing’s life into the last week of Jesus.

Inspired by the advice, and surrounded with research material,  I sat down to write scene 4. Well there’s no point throwing myself in the deep end with the inciting incident is there, especially as that had to involve a shy tender love scene. I also had a bash at scene 6.

This was great fun. If you want to write, put yourself in a room with no distractions and write and write and write. I didn’t want to stop. By 3pm everyone else had that round studio pallor of the slightly mad. I was ready to go on and on. Maybe it’s because I have that  round studio pallor of the slightly mad anyway. Nobody can tell the difference. However, the session came to a close, and Christmas arrived.

I left Alan to potter about in my head over Christmas (he’s done some lovely work on the rewiring, but there were some boxes in the corner and he’s moved them somewhere). I thought a lot about what people would say and how they would say it. I scribbled bits down when the mood struck me, usually while eating or while trying to write something extremely clever about the semantics and pragmatics of education law in bilingual legal systems.

Both of these things somehow helped me to find the words for what Alan would say and how he would say it.

In January we met up a couple of times to read each other’s work. Very illuminating this. My drafting and redrafting at home had tightened the structure. One character had been banished. Another was on the gangplank. By now there were no women in it. Controversial! I was told, but I decided to stick to my guns. Other advice was more readily accepted. Scene 1 is too long, too stilted, has too much backstory. Scene 9 is too oblique.

The love scene was still to be written. I used one of the exercises we had done in the session to get started. Write the scene in 3 word sentences. It was a good way of getting it out and down on to the page. There’s a lesson here. Writers work it out with a pencil.

There was also the court scene to write. I had fun with this – the higher courts of the England and Wales get the best stories, the best characters and the best one liners. For example:

PROSECUTOR: Are you a homosexual?

DEFENDANT: Well, put it this way, I used to be.

This got me thinking that the comedy court scene I had written earlier on would provide a useful counterpoint to the court scene where Alan is tried. I spent a fun afternoon therefore writing the same court scene in two different ways- as a comedy and as a tragedy. By the end of January, I had a complete first draft. However, I am pen and paper person. This was all on scrappy bits of paper with crossings out, asterisks and little clouds with ideas in them.

It was then a matter of typing it up. Scenes were shifted. Bits were edited. Gaps were identified. The balance of the scenes was plotted out. On February 4th it was finished. My husband read it. It brought tears to his eyes. This might actually be a bit good.

Then there was The Long Wait For Feedback. Would Sherman Cymru like it? Would they pick it?

Of course, that wasn’t important. Still, it would be nice…

On February 13th, I got the news. They picked my play. I was at work. I ran out of the office to tell anybody who happened to be about. It needed some revision. The weekend was spent doing those. At least doing what I could. I think I am still a bit too close to it to identify the weaknesses and to view it as anything other than A Work of Genius.

By February 14th, I had decided it was a disaster, that the revisions required were major, and extensive, and that the play was awful. This feeling continued until the rehearsals.

THE REHEARSALS

On March 8th, the cast assembled to read the play. I must admit, I rather liked it. Sometimes, when my work has been read, I’ve sat there squirming, but I’m rather pleased with this one. Still there were some very probing questions to address. Perhaps not before the performance, but in the longer term, there are things that need to be ironed out. And then I got scared again. Should I address these questions before the performance? If I didn’t would the play be embarrassingly bad? Would everybody laugh? Would they be bored? Would they walk out?

The rehearsal process was very intense – a no holds barred re-evaluation of the things that were too oblique, too rubbish, too overwritten. Believe me you need this. You might not like it, but you need someone to tell you in no uncertain terms what doesn’t work. Value it, and don’t shy away from it in favour of people who will simper and tell you it’s lovely. Confront your failings.

PERFORMANCE

I’m really scared now. I’ve persuaded lots of people to come and see this. They know about theatre. They have faces  that will go all blank and grey if they don’t like it. They’re people who are completely rubbish at lying. Why did I think this was a good idea? I’m up first too. That’s bad. It means people can forget about it and move on to the better plays. Oh well, at least it means that I can enjoy Tony and Debbie’s pieces. For forty minutes I panic. Then…then people clap. I can relax. The actors were brilliant. But it was over now. Relax. I enjoyed the rest of the show. Then there was the Q and A. There were many hard questions. I think I said some things. Possibly veryquicklyandwithoutanypunctuation or very….slowly….and…pausing…

….when people don’t expect it. Overall, I was delighted though. There’s a lot still to do. I am planting ideas and they are getting water and sunlight. And I am going to revisit Alan…soon.