One of the best things about being a playwright rather a novelist, poet or unperformed screenwriter is working with other performance professionals. I’m just fresh from two development days on two separate scripts, in the space of 8 days. So guess what I’m going to tell you about…but only one at a time.
First up was director Mandy Horlock leading an astonishing cast in a script development day for ‘A Bit of A Song and Dance’, as part of the work of the Writers’ Forum @ Tobacco Factory Theatres. Once a season, the group runs one of these days and I was lucky enough that this script got the latest treatment.
With zilch funding, and I mean, zilch, save the generous donation of space from TFT for the day and evening, the team blew my mind. The story shows us Martin, on the brink of retirement, and his wife Sandra, who is on the brink of leaving for a world cruise with the proceeds of the house. But in moments of stress, Martin escapes into his ’50s childhood comic world and becomes Col. Dan Dare of the Eagle comic. The Mekon has stolen his pension and Martin’s just found the family he always wanted. Clearly, all is not as it seems.
So, with seven hours’ slog behind them, this ridiculously talented bunch were in costume, under Venusian tunnels, over restaurant tables and singing along with a tribe of actuaries. Our superb audience gave fantastically useful feedback, which was really illuminating: different people like different levels of solid information and ambiguity. We don’t all like guessing, and some more than others. Lastly, kindly, many have let me know how moved they were by the show, which is all credit to the wonderful team who got that wee monster of a script on stage.
So with huge thanks, it’s time to roll the credits: David Collins, Dee Sadler, Ali Campbell, Alex Dunbar, Alan Coveney with director Mandy Horlock. With thanks to Tobacco Factory Theatres and the Writers’ Forum.