Following the conclusion of Rosemary Mason’s course Writing for the Screen, we’re now taking a break until September.
Success for three Southwest Scriptwriters
Steve Hennessy’s radio play The Song of the Whale is to be broadcast on Radio 4 on Tuesday, 16 July at 2pm.
Jessica Townsend has been given £1000 by the Hampstead Theatre to develop her stage play Terms of Abuse, following discussions with the company’s director and artistic director. Equally exciting, another of Jessica’s plays Call Me Irresponsible is being given a two-day workshop with actors and a director by The Royal Court in London in July.
Pat Dallimore’s play Women’s Talk reached the final stages of selection at The Bush Theatre, London, but was finally turned down on structural grounds. The play was warmly praised for its characterisation and dialogue — and for the fact that Pat ‘knows how to tell a story’.
Our congratulations to all three writers — and we look forward to more successes to come.
Special thanks to Tim Massey
Much of the renewed vigour of Southwest Scriptwriters in recent months can be attributed to the energy and vision of Tim Massey — so please all give him a round of applause. Tim became our creative director last April and his report on the activities of the group in the last six months is below.
Six-minute pieces for One Voice
The One Voice Competition is open once again for monologues, duologues, letters and short stories of six minutes duration. The closing date is 5 October 1996. Prize money totals £4000 and the winning entries will be performed in London in April 1997. Our own Steve Hennessy is a former joint winner of this competition. We propose to devote one of our September meetings to reading and discussing members’ entries.
More First Night scripts for Crumbling Walls
Crumbling Walls Theatre Group is keen to perform more rehearsed readings of one-act plays by Southwest Scriptwriters for their First Nights series at the Hope Centre, Hotwells, Bristol in September/October and next spring. Plays by Pat Dallimore and Tim Massey were a great success in May, so please submit anything you think might be suitable.
One-act plays for Chipping Sodbury Players
Chipping Sodbury Players is keen to read one-act plays that have a strong dramatic content, with a view to production for the One-Act Play Festival. The company also produces two full-length plays a year (of any genre) and is happy to encourage new writers if a suitable script is found.
Tight deadline for LIPA commission
Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts is offering a £4000 commission for a full-length original new play for a company of 15 to 30 actors. The closing date is very soon, though: 29 July 1996.
The living is easy, fish are jumping, the cotton is high, and prevailing conditions are otherwise clement. Time to unfold a deck chair, slap on some sun block, knot a handkerchief, catch a few rays, and take a look at what the first half of 1996 has brought for Southwest Scriptwriters…
In March a committee was instituted to run the group. The c-word (committee) is often associated with horribly formal Politburos, mountains of paperwork, and meetings bloody meetings. Of course the Southwest Scriptwriters committee wasn’t started out of any fondness for this kind of bureaucratic monster, but to try to make sure that the group develops as a major source of support and encouragement for writers in the region. Continuing with a friendly, informal approach, we aim to offer improved programmes of events, build links with other local groups, and, hopefully, attract some funding for performance projects.
Also in March, we were delighted to welcome Catherine Johnson as our Honorary President. Catherine attended meetings in January and February to tell us about her role as the Old Vic’s writer-in-residence, and to join in a script reading and criticism session. Her flrst visit as Hon. Pres. was in April, following the renewal of her residency, when she brought us up to date with developments in the theatre. Catherine is currently working on projects for Granada and BBC Television, and on a commission for the Bush Theatre. We look forward to seeing her in the autumn.
Meetings in our April/May season were held in the amply monikered ‘Garden Suite’ at the Theatre Royal. The Suite itself is not as sizable as its name suggests, and our very well attended gatherings were packed into the limited space. During this season we were pleased to greet a number of new members and welcome back some faces from the past. As well as Catherine’s visit and the airing of some excellent new material in script reading sessions, the season featured a talk by one of our members.
At the end of April, some members attended Thornbury Festival’s Writers’ Day II held in the Chantry. Speakers included Catherine, and the ebullient TV writer Tony McHale, whose impressive track record includes over 140 episodes of EastEnders as well as credits for Boon, The Bill, Casualty, and an award-winning five part thriller series, Resort to Murder. Other writing genres were catered for by poet, short story and children’s fiction writer Diana Hendry, and famous Scouse poet Roger McGough. Congratulations to Thornbury Festival and Thornbury Writers’ Circle for arranging an excellent event.
Walls come Crumbling
Links with other organisations bore fruit in May, when scripts by two of our members were given rehearsed readings by the Crumbling Walls amateur dramatics group at the Hope Centre, Hotwells, Bristol. This event was part of First Nights featuring the work of new writers, and similar programmes are planned for the future. If your script is aching for an airing in front of a real, live audience, it is well worth submitting it to Crumbling Walls. The group prefers one act plays but they are considering reading extracts from longer work in future.
Our latest season consisted of a course on Writing for the Screen by EastEnders writer Rosemary Mason. Rosemary offered insights into screenwriting that were of interest to both newcomers and more experienced writers alike.
At present we’re making a concerted effort to attract new members. Our strength and influence as a group is dependent upon the size of our membership (who says size doesn’t matter?), so if you know of anyone who might be interested in joining us, pass on one of our Budding Bard? publicity leaflets. We’re trying to get these leaflets distributed in theatres, cinemas, museums, libraries and family amenity fun centres throughout the region, so if there’s such an establishment near you, please ask for a bundle of leaflets to display there.
In the autumn we are planning to introduce Spotlight sessions to our programmes. These events will devote a whole evening to the work of one writer, allowing scripts to be read and discussed in their entirety. This is intended to provide more in-depth help to writers than that afforded in workshops where extracts from a number of scripts are discussed. To allow some rehearsal for these events, copies of scripts will be distributed to actors a couple of weeks beforehand,
More preparation is obviously necessary for Spotlight sessions, not only because casts have to be assembled and scripts circulated in advance, but also to allow these evenings to be announced in our newsletter and the local press.
Future’s so bright…
Sunglasses are essential kit in the current climate, and stylish eyewear is also necessary when contemplating the radiant future for Southwest Scriptwriters. At present we’re working on the programme for our next season, including the first Spotlight session (featuring the writing of Jessica Townsend whose recent theatrical success is detailed above), and a special workshop devoted to entries for the One Voice competition. We encourage entries for this prestigious competition in the hope that we can boast another winner this year. There will also be talks from members as well as our regular workshops.
Many thanks for helping to make the first half of 1996 a success for Southwest Scriptwriters. As a dedicated dramatist, no doubt you’ll ditch the deckchair and instead spend the summer labouring over a hot keyboard/pen. We look forward to seeing you, pasty-faced, but clutching bundles of scripts, in the autumn.