Back in 2017, writer and former Radio 4 Producer Paul Dodgson led a workshop in radio drama at the Somewhere Else writers group. One of the exercises involved writing about the shoes we were wearing and I happened to be in some relatively interesting shoes, bought cheaply (from Burton’s for £5) as one had become slightly faded from exposure to the sun while sitting in the shop window.
I ended up writing a complete script based on the idea, in which a pair of shoes (with very different personalities, one laid back and philosophical, the other pessimistic and anxious) contemplate the threats to their existence and the possibility of an afterlife for shoes.
I submitted the completed script to Off the Rock Productions for their Soundwaves opportunity, it was recorded by them in late 2018 and now available on Youtube.
I have a small city. It doesn’t have a name, all I know is it’s somewhere in Europe and was inspired by places like Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon and Jan Morris’ Hav. I once read a superb short story set in the (fictional) People’s Republic of O, created when the former Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic, Slovakia. And O.
I have set a number of stories in my (as yet) unnamed city, modern day urban fables, owing more than a little to Shaun Tan’s superb little book, Tales from Outer Suburbia, which I highly recommend.
The latest ‘Cargo’ was picked for the 17th Stroud Short Stories event back in November. It has been accepted by Fictive Dream for Flash Fiction February 2019 and will be published on the 14th February 2019.
After weeks sitting on some amazing news, I can now go public: I have been selected by Bristol Old Vic for Open Session Writers 2018. My first full length play ‘Parzival’ will get a year’s worth of development support and workshopping and (potentially) a production in Spring 2019.
Parzival has been a long time in the making. Originally titled ‘Nothing’, I wanted to write about someone who (in a world filled with Conspiracy Theorists shouting about increasingly fantastic Conspiracy Theories) had a genuine Secret, about which they chose to say… Nothing. Why would they remain silent about it and how would they react to the threat of an outsider?
In Parzival, Alison’s remote farm is invaded by Conspiracy Theorist Dan, determined to find proof to support his bizarre theory. His arrival forces Alison to finally reveal the farm’s true secret to her daughter Emma, who must decide between the rival narratives and (potentially) use the situation to enable her escape to the city.
I have already had one workshopping session at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School which was great fun, generated many useful ideas and gave me a chance to get excited by the whole project all over again – the script was originally submitted back in June 2018.
I now have to complete a new draft by January. Plenty time…
Back in the studio last week to re-record my Radio play Sky Pilots. Although it was broadcast on BBC Solent back in June, it wasn’t legally possible to broadcast the BBC’s recording on Cirencester’s Corinium Radio. On the plus side, it gave me the opportunity to work with Alice Vellender and David Lloyd, who did a great job.
Monday 29th Oct 10-30pm
Thursday 1st Nov 6-00pm
Saturday 2rd Nov 11-00am
Alice and David also performed the piece at the ‘For Invitation Only’ Showcase at Parmoor House Cheltenham, one of three plays performed for Caroline Summerfield’s Writers and Directors Showcase.
Creative Collisions is a showcase of amazing talent including actors, writers, directors and other creatives. The showcase is comprised of monologues and scenes, written by a variety of wonderful up and coming writers and featuring colourful, dynamic characters. There will be two performances on Tuesday 27th November at 2pm and 7pm.
Stage Managers: Clarina Mascarenhas
Casting Directors: Crispin Harris, Joy Waldron, Clarina Mascarenhas & Rachael Head
27/11 at 2PM & 7PM
Tickets: £10 *
Venue: The Cockpit, Gateforth St, Marylebone, London NW8 8EH
Hard to believe the whole process is all over, but at 9:30 last Friday morning 18th May, my short radio play ‘Sky Pilots’ was broadcast on BBC Solent during the Julian Clegg drive time show – then repeated at 17:40. It was lovely to hear it complete with all the sound effects I had written in, but which couldn’t practically be done live at Thornden Hall – especially the hot air balloon burners.
The whole show is now available on iPlayer here, starting at 3:05:30.
It was great to be involved with the BBC Solent people, particularly Louisa Hannan who did such a great job of organising the whole venture, as well as fellow playwrights Ben White, Georgina Pitts and GillianPalmer, I hope to hear more from them in the future.
Now comes the hard part, moving onwards with other projects.
Retreat West’s Climate Fiction anthology ‘Nothing Is As It Was‘ is officially released today, 22nd April. Proceeds raised from the book sales will be donated to support the work of the climate action group, Earth Day Network.
The book is available from Amazon in both eBook and paperback formats and includes my own short piece ‘The Window Box‘.
Still mildly high after Thursday night’s recording!
On arrival at the venue, I was whisked away to meet the cast, Belinda and Orlando, plus other actors Jilly Bond and Tomos James, also director James Barry, everybody full of nice things about the plays. Food had been provided but I was too light-headed to be hungry.
Time to relax and chat to fellow winning scriptwriters Ben White and Georgina Pitts (Gillian Palmer away at sea), nice, funny people, I can only wish them well. We had to do some more interviews, both recorded and live with Louise Peters, plus a brief Facebook Live video. We were finally led into the auditorium for the performance at 6:20.
The plays had all been rehearsed and recorded earlier in the day: these recordings plus the live versions would be used for later tweaking/broadcast. Louisa ran the whole show, aided by James Barry.
Ben White’s ‘The Family Way’ first, and good fun too. A simple premise, based on Ben’s own life story: a father with tickets to see Southampton play Man United in the cup final at Wembley… except that his pregnant wife is due to give birth on the same day.
Georgina Pitt and Gillian Palmer’s ‘Searching’ had a looser structure, with two old friends determined to have fun during a trip to the Isle of Wight.
I had to stood up and introduced ‘Sky Pilots’, although I sounded a little on the quiet side (according to the video on Twitter). Not as many laughs as the other 2, most of the laughs coming in the middle third. Still, people seemed to like it, Paul Marchbank and Sarah Sullivan (both from Southampton Solent University) very complimentary.
I was reluctant to leave and break the spell. Now the wait to hear what they sound like on radio…
To the BBC in Southampton today, to workshop ‘Sky Pilots’ in preparation for its recording next month.
Louisa Hannan led the session, assisted by Neil Sackley, playwright James Barry and Maggie Tarver from Southampton Solent University. I met the other scriptwriters, Ben White (script entitled ‘The Family Way’) and Georgina Pitt (script entitled ‘Searching’, written in collaboration with Gillian Palmer).
The workshopping was really useful, James covered more the radio drama aspects and Maggie the more purely dramatic side. Some very useful suggestions came out of the process which I will need to consider for the final version of the script.
We were all recorded at various points during the day, for broadcast during Louisa’s drive time slot: