Monday, 30 June 2008


It's going to be a bit quite around here with so many off to the Screenwriting Festival. Couldn't make it this year but I hope to live it vicariously through their posts.

I said I'd report on the latest for my short play. It had its performance, after some modifications, just over a week ago. The audience was a bit smaller, not everyone wants to see a play twice, but there were new people too. This meant some feedback was on whether the reworks improved things and some was from fresh eyes. A useful combination.

This time the studio was laid out with a stage down the middle instead of at one end. I'm not sure if that worked because one of the actors moved about a lot and had to be sure he didn't obscure the movements of the other.

I felt there were fewer laughs this time (yes it was a comedy) but the audience still said they enjoyed it. Except for a lovely pair of pensioners who felt it was a bit too wordy for them.

This time there was a chance for people to ask questions and most of these were about whether I should expand the play and how. I'd always intended it as a short, complete piece. Half the feedback said it would be nice to expand it, they wanted to get to know more about the characters and I chatted for a while about the backstory for each. The other half felt this would dilute the piece. It is very fast paced and I'm worried I'll lose the momentum and end up padding it to make it longer. I still feel happiest with it staying as a short play but maybe I'll feel differently in a year.

Those that voted for expansion wanted me to make the two characters suffer more. The director, Dan, let me know that pain is funny. His stand-up mate says it has been proved scientifically. So I'm too nice to my characters and I've got to be more sadistic. Hmmm. I'm going to have to develop a nasty streak.

The piece was also selected for a workshop at a literary festival on the border. The aim was to introduce people to the scriptwriting group, show them what it was like to write for the stage and tout for members. The attendees were split into two groups and asked to write the next scene. An interesting challenge when the play's ending is the possible end of the world.

I heard today how it went and the two groups took very different routes. One kept the comedy style and that you are never sure if things are really happening or not. The other group decided it wasn't but made the characters suffer more. Both were great ways forward and I'm chuffed that it gave them very different ideas.

The attendees enjoyed the experience and the play so I think that counts as a success. Unless they all take up writing. Then I have more competition. Oh dear. This could all go horribly wrong.

I'll wind up now. Trying to decide whether to put my next play idea aside for a while or battle on. Currently going for the put it aside vote because it just isn't flowing well at the moment. Lots of other pieces to work on though.


potdoll said...

Hi Rach,

did he mean physical or emotional pain? Or both?

Rach said...

For my play it was emotional pain. Trap the two of them on a tiny boat with no escape.

However the director had a demonic grin when he said it so I suspect any pain would do.

This was reinforced by the other writers when I suggested I turned all Basil Fawlty. Yes! So much glee at the prospect of tormenting poor Jed and Col.

We're a twisted lot really.

potdoll said...


Elinor said...

Yes, yes, pain and suffering by all means but redemption at the end?

Rach said...

Well mine was upbeat for one of them and downbeat for the other. So a nice balance. And most of my stuff has an upbeat ending.

However if the character is really, really nasty then do you want them to find redemption? Imagine the most horrible person you ever met getting their just deserts.

But not desserts. I get those.