It’s a big start to autumn 2009 for us next week with not only our first regular meeting of the season but also Theatre West’s presentation of rehearsed readings of the three running-up plays shortlisted for production in the Southwest Scriptwriters slot of its upcoming ten-week programme. News of these, the finalist and the rest of Theatre West’s autumn programme follow.

You can also find details below of how to book concessionary tickets for Bristol Old Vic Writers’ Room inaugural shows, which start this week (on 1 September) and feature four new plays.

Check the Diary page of our website for an up-to-date list of our forthcoming events. You can also get a quick look at the date and time of the next meeting in the panel at the bottom right of the site’s home page.

All of our regular meetings take place in the function room upstairs at the Famous Royal Naval Volunteer pub, 17-18 King Street, BS1 4EE. Ask at the bar when buying a drink if you need directions to the meeting. Everyone attending pays £1.

Tuesday, 8 September at 7.30pm: Time Share Family by Ian Searle

A reading of the pilot episode of Ian’s 30-minute TV comedy-drama for children: Do you ever feel your parents don’t understand you and belong in a different time? Jessica and Phoenix do and that’s just the start of their problems. because theirs really do!

Thursday, 10 September at 8.30pm, Alma Tavern Theatre: State by Virginia Bergin

The first of this week’s rehearsed readings of the running-up plays for Theatre West’s autumn season: Virginia’s allegorical, darkly comic, sci-fi eco-tragedy.

Karen, an art teacher from Milton Keynes, wakes to find herself dressed as a clown in the middle of the South American jungle — with a tiger, a spirit and a cute mouse for company. This is no fancy dress party; this is the state we’re in.

Friday, 11 September at 8.30pm, Alma Tavern Theatre: The Other Reader by Andrew Graham

Andy’s shortlisted script for Theatre West’s autumn season is tonight’s rehearsed reading at the Alma.

Connections made, connections missed. A chance meeting in a pub reveals the erotic beginnings of a fledgling relationship. But an opportunity seized is soon in jeopardy. And 20 years on, the true consequences of a failure of nerve become apparent. Is it too late to make amends?

The Other Reader looks at the fragile nature of passion and the achingly human forces that can destroy it.

Saturday, 12 September at 8.30pm, Alma Tavern Theatre: Genesis by Heather Lister

Heather’s play concludes this week’s rehearsed readings of scripts shortlisted by Theatre West.

How far is a mother responsible for what her son has become?

What do you do when someone you love does something unforgiveable?

How can a family survive in a culture of drugs and violence?

Genesis is a single mother from Philadelphia with an estranged daughter and a son on Death Row for shooting a man in the street.

Is it too late to bring the family together and save her son’s life?

Tuesday, 15 September at 7.30pm: Open Workshop

Tuesday, 22 September at 7.30pm: Open Workshop

Tonight featuring a script by Paul Wiggins.

Tuesday, 29 September at 7.30pm: In a Paper Cage by Brian Jennings

Tonight we’re reading Brian’s 30-minute TV drama: Dr Peter is a chaotic drunk. He abuses patients, ignores his ailing brother, misses the harm suffered by a young mum. It all changes when he is caught up in a robbery, bullets fly, a young boy lies wounded. Peter tries to save the boy’s life — and then his own.

Tuesday, 6 October at 7.30pm: Meet Sharon Clark

Sharon Clark is currently co-ordinating the Writers’ Room, Bristol Old Vic’s department for the development and commissioning of writers for performances. She is a playwright, living in Bristol, who has worked with the National Theatre, John Caird Company, Watford Playhouse, Bristol Old Vic, Cresset Theatre and Radio 3. She has also been writer in residence at Bristol University and the Welsh College of Music and Drama. Her plays include yada yada yada, Tea and Roaches at Scabby Gills, black/white (four stars in The Independent), Tiger Country, Pavement, Bretton Boys, Prodigal, Gorilla and Moonstomping.

Tuesday, 13 October at 8.30pm, Alma Tavern Theatre: Showing the Monster by Steve Lambert

Join us again at the Alma Tavern Theatre for the opening night of the play Theatre West picked for the Southwest Scriptwriters slot in its autumn season:

It’s 1968 and theatre censorship is over. So anything goes — right?

When a famous actor gets cold feet about a gay kiss in a new play, the producer and director just want to keep him happy. But his co-star threatens to quit if the kiss is cut.

Once the gloves are off, it’s easy to shock but hard to be honest — on stage and in the real world.


Theatre West autumn season 2009

Many congratulations to Steve Lambert whose 60-minute play, Showing the Monster, saw off stiff competition from State by Virginia Bergin, The Other Reader by Andy Graham and Genesis by Heather Lister to make it into the Southwest Scriptwriters slot of Theatre West’s ten-week autumn season at the Alma Tavern Theatre.

As shown in our listings above, Theatre West is staging rehearsed readings of Andy, Heather and Virginia’s plays as a curtain-raiser for the season next week on 10, 11 and 12 September — do join us for as many of the readings as you can.

This autumn’s first full production at the Alma is White Lights by Theatre West regular, Mike Akers, which opens on Tuesday, 15 September, running at 8.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday, until 26 September.

In White Lights, the downturn takes its toll on a small supermarket chain and area management resort to desperate measures, but the Day of the Dead promotion brings unexpected visitors through the automatic doors. For checkout operative Holly and store manager Martin the shift from hell is about to change their lives forever.

Nostalgia by Jimmy Whiteaker is second in the line-up, playing in the pub theatre from 29 September until 10 October. Theatre West commissioned the script following the success of its writer’s 15-minute play, Karaoke for One, which formed a quarter of the company’s 4 x 15 Minutes show in last year’s Writing in the Margins season.

‘A political satire that explores ideas of nation, identity, cruelty, and humanity, Nostalgia contorts and compresses twentieth and twenty-first century Britain into an image of absurd glee and ordinary cruelty. In Nostalgia, you holiday as Pol Pot, blow up children with Semtex and sugared almonds, are terrified of coughs and sneezes, and feel swamped with guilt when you tread on a snail. It is a hideous, violently funny and uncanny place. Come.’

Showing the Monster comes next in the season (to recap) running from 13 to 24 October. See above for a summary of Steve’s script, which is directed by long-time Scriptwriters’ ally, Pameli Benham.

This autumn’s penultimate play, Play Time by Alex Boyt, is the second script to be commissioned from amongst last year’s 4 x 15 Minutes writers:

Spike has a new idea for a play. It’s dangerous. It’s crazy. It’s a theatrical stunt. And it’s going to put everyone involved at risk. On purpose.

Through a series of calculated choices, a controversial writer pits the most important women in his life against one another in a play destined to destroy itself. What he isn’t expecting is to be played back in return.

The season concludes with a joint venture between Theatre West and Bristol Old Vic’s Writers’ Room, presenting Bad Manners by Edson Burton from 10 until 21 November. Edson Burton was amongst the writers identified by the Writers’ Room from scripts submitted for its Script In Hand project in February. Bad Manners completes a line-up of six plays being co-produced by Theatre West and the Writers’ Room this autumn — see below for details of the other plays coming up in BOV Studio this week and next.

Bad Manners is set in a colonial state where a servant ceremoniously entertains a newly crowned leader. Beneath the protocol of manners and procedures they fight for dominance in a struggle that embodies a brutal clash of cultures.


Get concessionary tickets for Bristol Old Vic Writers’ Room shows

As mentioned above, Bristol Old Vic Writers’ Room has teamed-up with Theatre West to present its inaugural productions in the Studio this week and next, featuring two new plays with a pair of Short Fuses — bite-sized, ten-minute scripts by new writers.

The programme starts on Tuesday, 1 September, with Sarah Cudden’s My Green, Your Grey, which was presented as part of the Writers’ Room’s Script In Hand readings in February: By night, over the airwaves, Faruk becomes the Night Owl. By day, he is just another drifter in the city. He thinks no-one is listening, but Eva, trapped by memories and a love long dead, is the one that shows him his music makes a real difference.

My Green, Your Grey is directed by Alison Comley, while the accompanying Short Fuse, Dying Breed by Dom Rowe, sees Ed Viney in action as director.

Next up, starting on Tuesday, 8 September, is Muscle by Tom Wainwright, which was also presented as part of Script In Hand earlier this year: ‘Three men. One gym. This is Muscle; a perverse comedy about pumping iron, loving thy brother and battling with the man in the mirror.’

Muscle‘s Short Fuse companion piece is Fermentation by erstwhile Southwest Scriptwriter Ursula Wills-Jones, which Ed Viney is also directing.

Shows are at 7.30pm Tuesday to Saturday (1 to 5 September and 8 to 12 September) with matinee performances at 2.30pm on Saturdays. As a member of Southwest Scriptwriters, you can buy tickets at the concessionary price of £8.


Glasshouse at The Tobacco Factory

Tangent Theatre is presenting Peter Kesterton’s play Glasshouse at the Tobacco Factory from Friday, 18 until Saturday, 26 September.

First seen as part of the original Script Space series of rehearsed readings at the Tobacco Factory in April 2008, Glasshouse lifts the lid on some of the vested interests and power games being played out in the highly charged world of climate science. But at its heart it is also a love story. The question is, will that love be irredeemably wounded by compromise, ambition and betrayal?

Brilliant young physicist Jess Carpenter is determined to scale the heights of the high-profile world of climate science with her controversial new theory on global warming. She thinks she can rely on Professor Berry to get professional recognition for her research. But Berry is also her lover and when an old friend, who also happens to be Undersecretary for Climate Change, reappears in his life, sex, science and politics collide, and Jess wonders whose side he is really on.

Glasshouse is accompanied by supporting events at the Tobacco Factory including a post-show discussion with the cast and production team following the performance on Friday, 25 September, and a Script Space scriptwriting masterclass on Saturday, 26. Peter leads the latter session jointly with occasional Southwest Scriptwriters contributor, David Lane. Using examples from Glasshouse as a stimulus and including a short Q&A with Peter, the session will introduce participants to different strategies for creating a strong dramatic premise from a political topic.

Performances are at 8pm in the Tobacco Factory Theatre from Friday, 18 until Saturday, 26 September with 2.30pm matinees on Saturday, 19, Sunday, 20, and Saturday, 26.


Birthday Buzzard at BOV

Southwest Scriptwriters’ compadre, Timothy X Atack is presenting his one-man show, Buzzard, at the Bristol Old Vic Studio from Wednesday, 23 until Saturday, 26 September.

Buzzard is the first production co-commissioned in a new partnership initiative between Theatre Bristol and Bristol Old Vic. It’s a funny, bittersweet fable about Tim, a Birthday Buzzard. He’s employed to wear a large buzzard outfit, knock on your door, tramp into your home and tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong with your life.

Timothy X Atack has toured with comedians Matt Lucas and David Walliams, recorded albums and gigged around the world with his band, Angel Tech, won awards for his short filmmaking and screenplays, and is an associate artist with Arnolfini in Bristol.

Visit Tim’s website for updates on the show and his other work


Paradise in October

If the above isn’t enough new theatre writing for you, Bristol Old Vic is staging the Salt Factory’s production of Paradise by Nell Leyshon from 3 to 5 October. We’re hoping to reschedule Nell’s talk to the group (postponed from a meeting in May) for our next set of six meetings, so you might like to familiarise yourself with some of her work ahead of her talk.


Pint-sized and Particular success for Steve

Not only has Steve Lambert scooped the Southwest Scriptwriters slot in Theatre West’s autumn season, his short play, A Good Send Off, is one of ten winners in the 2009 Pint-sized Plays competition.

As reported in our newsletter extra in April, Pint-sized Plays is an opportunity for writers to show how imaginative they can be in a five- to ten-minute play, using a pub situation in the most interesting, surprising, dramatic or funny way possible.

A Good Send Off and nine other winning scripts will be performed in pubs around Pembrokeshire starting on 20 September, and at the Script Slam in Theatr Gwaun, Fishguard, on 10 October where an audience poll will determine the winner of the Pint-pot Award.

Pint-sized Plays website

As well as his short script crawling the West Wales boozers, Steve has another two plays, The Viewing and The Search (which he workshopped at a group meeting a while ago), on at The Hour Glass pub in Exeter at 6pm next Tuesday, 8 September, and at the same time on Wednesday, 23 September, respectively. Particular Theatre Company is presenting the plays as part of its 6/10 (at 6 and 10pm) pre- and post-show programme to accompany its upcoming production of Helen Davis’ new play, Forsaken.

Heather Lister’s absurdist script, Interviewing Alice (which we staged in our New Writing Festival in 2003), also features as part of 6/10, showing at The Hour Glass at 6pm on Saturday, 12 September, and at 4pm (!) on Sunday, 13 September.


Gill joins the Sprint

Gill Kirk joins fellow Southwest Scriptwriters committee member Adrian Harris on the Bristol Old Vic Writers’ Room Writers’ Sprint later this month.

As reported in our newsletter extra last month, the Writers’ Sprint will provide a hothouse for writers to kick-start their creative process and explore the possibilities of working to a tight and strict deadline. The ten participants will work in the Bristol Old Vic complex from 10am until 6pm for four days to produce the first ten pages of ten new plays, aided by the Bristol-born playwright Simon Bowen (National, Hampstead and Soho Theatres).

Gill’s selection for the Writers’ Sprint follows success earlier this year with her play Water’s Not So Thick, which was one of four scripts chosen from 220 submissions for the Script Space II rehearsed readings at the Tobacco Factory in May.

We’re now looking forward to hearing what both Gill and Adrian dash off in the Sprint!


Max seeks scripts

Following its successful production of Steve Lambert’s Sleep With Me and Happy Happy Happy at the Trinity Community Arts Centre last month, Max Theatre Company is seeking to broaden its range of writers, and is open-minded about hearing from you about performance projects of any kind.


Bee Here Now

Many congratulations to Shirley Brown on her ‘agitprop pantomime’ atop the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, 8 August, aimed at raising awareness of the current worldwide plight of bees.


Southwest Scriptwriters committee

In accordance with the group’s constitution, the Southwest Scriptwriters committee is up for re-election this month.

The entire existing team — John Colborn (Secretary/Treasurer), Andy Graham (Chair), Adrian Harris, William House, Gill Kirk and Tim Massey (Artistic Director) — is standing again.


Social networking sites

Recently added to our Facebook group page are pictures from the read-throughs of the four scripts shortlisted for our slot in Theatre West’s autumn season this year. These readings at the Alma Tavern Theatre on 8 and 9 August helped Theatre West’s joint Artistic Directors, Alison Comley and Ann Stiddard, pick the final script.

You don’t need to sign-up for Facebook to view the group’s page, but please do join the group if you’re a member of the site.

A reminder that we’re also now posting infrequent tweets on Twitter — do follow us if you’re a Twitterer!


Phew! This has been our longest newsletter yet. Many thanks for reading this far and here’s to a fantastic autumn!