Last week, I blogged about a script writing workshop I’d attended on Valentine’s Day and explained that it was a bit of a taster for a six-week evening programme at The Stephen Joseph Theatre. My dilemma was whether I would want to join that programme after Easter. The plan was to attend ‘Plays & Pinot’ where some of the scripts would be showcased and then make a decision. So I attended last night.
And I still haven’t made a decision.
There were sixteen 20-minute plays put on over four nights and last night was the third such night. Four tables were laid out in a square in the middle of the restaurant with a reading lamp on each of them. Three or four actors per play would seat themselves at one of these tables and read through the script (in an acting voice, naturally, with accompanying facial expressions and the odd gesture) whilst a narrator set the scene and provided stage directions. The audience were seated round all four sides of the room.
All of the plays had been written around the theme of love using the same prompt pictures we’d been given on our Saturday workshop. There’s apparently a theme each year and they vary massively – last year’s was WWI – and they are always based on prompt pictures. The first play was about a single mum reacting to her son’s revelation that he was gay. The second was about a policeman who was seeing the 17-year-old daughter of his boss against a backdrop of drugs and club raids. We then had an interval before the next two plays. The first of these involved a wealthy student trying to befriend and support a prostitute working in the area, and the final one was an elderly couple and the revelation by the woman that she’d discovered her husband had fathered a child before they’d met. Very eclectic mix of subject matter!
My favourite play was the first one because it made me both laugh and cry and I really like books/plays/films that hit my emotions. I think the final play was probably inspired from the same picture I chose to write about.
Three of the four writers were present and they ran a Q&A session afterwards. I didn’t stay for that as I had an early morning for bootcamp this morning.
I had hoped that I’d leave Plays & Pinot with a clear decision that it’s either for me or not. But I didn’t. I enjoyed the evening, despite being there on my own, and I was impressed with what had been produced and brought to life by some amazing actors. I’m curious as to how much writing experience the writers had because, if it was none, then they’d done exceptionally well. I’d probably have found this out if I’d stayed.
I kept imaging how it must feel watching a piece of your work unfold. What an amazing experience that must be, particularly to observe the reaction of the audience (laughter, tears, applause etc). It’s not something an author will get unless their book is made into a film so it’s a pretty unique opportunity.
The tutor seems incredibly experienced and supportive and it sounds like there is great support as a whole cohort in developing each others’ plays.
So what’s stopping me signing up immediately? It’s that I’m chasing my tail at the moment, as reblogged a few days ago from a post I wrote on the Write Romantics blog. I honestly don’t know if I have the time to do it. Will working on a play detract me from my “core” work … or will the feedback and learning be invaluable and support me with my “core” work? Tricky. What do you think?
Maybe a compromise is to wait until September instead rather than sign up after Easter. It’s not like they’re never going to run another workshop.
I’d love to hear your thoughts as I’m torn at the moment.