Tag Archives: Comedy

Crash Test scratch night

Scriptography Productions is very pleased to be hosting the latest Crash Test scratch night at Aberystwyth Boat Club Bar on Thursday 25th September 7.45PM

Crash Test scratch night offers a perfectly informal and fun environment which encourages writers new to writing for performance and more experienced writers to share work in its earliest stages of development. As well as providing an opportunity for Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s Writing for Performance Group to stage work at this bi-monthly event, Crash Test has also begun to attract writers from other areas such as comedy,  performance poetry and spoken word.

There is an Open part of the evening which is open to anyone to share their writing or performance.

The evening will be MC’d by James Baker with his usual incomparable and indescribable mix of comedy, writing, performance and occasionally dance!

If you are interested in taking part in this or future scratch nights contact scriptographyproductions@gmail.com or pop along and say hello.

 

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March – it’s a little busy!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????March is going to be a very busy month at Scriptography Productions. First we kick off with Grave Men Near Death at Aberystwyth Arts Centre (Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th March), then straight into Response Time: Journeys at the Gas Gallery (Sunday 16th March) and then we see the month out with a Crash Test scratch night on 27th March.

Grave Men Near Death is a new play by Terry Bailey, who runs the MA Screenwriting course at Aberystwyth University. The play was developed as part of Playpen, an Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s  Writing for Performance Group project, short plays on any subject. Grave Men Near Death was a perfect short play and when Terry admitted he had ideas for other scenes and characters I have to admit I was sceptical. Plays are the length they need to be because – that’s it. When writers ask me about play length I always say it will be the length it needs to be. Let’s face it we’ve all sat through plays that needed a good edit or plays that felt empty as though there were some missing scenes drifting around somewhere in the ether.

I read the new version of Grave Men Near Death  sceptical and expecting to see a fifteen minute play dragged out. But it wasn’t, interestingly the original play was there largely intact but around it were wonderful new scenes and characters which added more depth and layers, it had the heart it started with but it had got bigger and better.

As I watched a rehearsal the other day, and did what I always do – watch the writer watching their play – I was as always thrilled to see his delight in watching his work come to life. In a time when we’re constantly being told that new writing is dead, that new writing isn’t worth supporting or prioritising and in a time when there are so few companies in Wales producing work with a new piece of writing at it’s heart – I can’t help but wonder why companies wouldn’t want such an amazing experience of bringing new work by a writer to life, I can assure everyone bringing a new play into the world is magical.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Next up will be Response Time, our 48 hour challenge project to produce performed responses to art, space and environment at the Gas Gallery. This time we will be responding to the Sculpture Cymru Journeys: Responses to Place and Barbara Matthews exhibition Hidden Depths. The Response Time project gives a space for writers, artists and performance makers from many different disciplines to play. No better way to describe it really. We spend 48 hours playing – with ideas, working processes, collaborating and then we open the doors and let the audience join in the game. The audience can stand back and watch or they can even join in sometimes. We don’t insist that words are involved – that would be silly! But I do delight when words are included and also when a performance artist is inspired to express herself with words or when a physical performer decides to write a piece or when a writer decides to collaborate with a physical performer and explore a new working process. I’ve always been a little confused by the need to define new writing and new work – and seriously why has so many hours been lost to debating. Also I don’t understand why so many organisations insist on establishing rules for work to be developed – this way, or that way. Or the hours spent defining and analysing what is right or wrong in creative work. Surely every piece is different, surely every piece should be developed the way it needs to be.  At Response Time there are no rules – it is a space to play, to have fun, to enjoy.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Then finally for this month anyway – Crash Test – a scratch night for work in development – Thursday 27th March. A very informal environment perfectly suited to the living-room like feeling at the Aberystwyth Boat Club Bar. Again there are no rules – if it involves words then I’m happy for it to be shared. This about testing work out with an audience, about writers hearing their words beyond reading them aloud to themselves (I am still constantly astonished by the number of writers who don’t do that). Crash Test is a good name for it – it is about throwing things out there and seeing what crashes and what delights. It’s used as a testing ground for the Writing for Performance Group but also by other writers to test out work sometimes performed by themselves, sometimes performed by others. We provide performers if needed. It is a chance for writers to get used to sharing their work – something that can hinder and hold back so many writers from getting their work out there. It is open to all, again I am not interested in defining things – spoken work, poetry, plays, storytelling, stand-up – if it has words in it we can Crash Test it.

So that’s my March – please do come along and see what we get up to. None of these things are possible without audiences. None of us are writing for ourselves, we are all writing because we want an audience to hear our work, and be engaged by it and be excited by it – no matter how it is created, no matter what style it is created in, no matter what discipline or platform so please do come along and see work in it’s many different forms and most importantly have fun following us on our journey as writers and creators.

Sandra Bendelow
Writer/Producer

Crash Test, Thursday 23rd January, Aberystwyth Boat Club Bar

Crash Test January WCrash Test returns on Thursday 23rd January at Aberystwyth Boat Club Bar with it’s usual mix of plays, performance text, storytelling and comedy.

Crash Test has now been taking place for over two years, it has moved around a little from the RAFA club to Boulders Cafe, Borth and now has found a home at Aberystwyth Boat Club Bar. It is a pub-based evening because it aims for an informal and fun sharing of work in development. We aim to make new and inexperienced writers feel comfortable to share their words. It is not a stage – it’s the bit before the stage. We want the writers to feel as though they’re sharing their work with friends in their living room – though the friends are people they have only just met that night and the living room has a bar in the corner.

We also want the audience to feel the excitement and fun of being involved in the very early stages of work. It’s always text-based work – well almost always. There are no rules for inclusion or exclusion – if someone asks to show work and it has words in it then they can be included. Though we’ve also had a few things which didn’t have words!

The heart of the Crash Test night is Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s Writing for Performance Group. Though the group do have showcases of script-in-hand work in development which take place regularly at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. The Crash Test night allows beginners to try out their plays in front of an audience at a much earlier stage of development – it also allows writers with a little more experience to test out work. In essence it allows writers to play, to make mistakes, to test.

We’re very proud of Crash Test – previous evenings have seen Julie Grady Thomas perform stand-up for the first time, James Baker saw a play he’d written be performed in front of an audience for the very first time. Lots of first times.

This Thursday we have more firsts with writers sharing work for the very first time with an audience. We’ll have new pieces from more experienced writers. To be honest we usually don’t really know what we’ll have until the night. That’s the fun of it.

We have an open slot too so if you fancy turning up and giving it a go then feel free.

Come along to Aberystwyth Boat Club Bar on Thursday 23rd January at 7.30PM. It’s £5 admission and £3 concessions. And it’s free for participants.

Open Space – Sunday 12th January

Response Time Open Space WOn Sunday 12th January audiences are invited to the Gas Gallery, Aberystwyth to a new performance of work created during a 48 hour challenge to produce performed responses to art currently on exhibition at the gallery.

Response Time is an on-going project which is responding to all exhibitions at the newly opened gallery. Performance makers participating are from a wide range of disciplines including theatre, storytelling, performance art and physical theatre. Each project is guided through the weekend by the producer Sandra Bendelow and by a guest curator who takes on the task of piecing together all the different responses into a seamless performance – this weekend’s project will be curated by Vivian Ezugha a student at Aberystwyth University’s School of Art.

The project mixes experienced performance makers with students from Coleg Ceredigion and Aberystwyth University and performers and writers from the community. The project focuses on allowing young and emerging artists to develop their work and performance skills in a supportive and friendly environment and offers audiences the chance to experience the art, space and environment through the eyes of these young and emerging artists.

Sandra Bendelow who produces the project for local company Scriptography Productions said, “This is the fourth response project at the Gallery and promises to be the most exciting project yet in response to the current OPEN exhibition which features over 60 works of art by 50 artists from Ceredigion. This really has been an amazing project, each time the space not only looks different as one would expect but it is a completely different creative environment. It’s a really exciting place to be for the weekend and the energy and passion everyone has for the project and the Gas Gallery means it becomes a creative hub. Though we never have any idea what will be produced – past ones have had a dancing girl trapped in a cupboard, an OCD tortoise, people have escaped from the art and become trapped in the art, a human glitter-ball! – we can promise audiences a fun evening of surprises, laughs and they will go away thinking about art a little differently,”

Performances are on Sunday 12th January 6PM and 8PM £5 (£3).

Interview with Sarah Taylor about her audio drama Starlings

Sarah Taylor

Sarah Taylor

Tell me about your play, what is it about and where did you get the idea?
Starlings is about a couple of amateur photographers trying to set up the perfect shot, who get a little help from a passing professional photographer. What they don’t realise is that he is also setting up his shot, and they are going to play a greater part in it that they bargain for. It’s about how people manipulate one another and also raises questions about how much ‘candid art’ can actually be manufactured – does the camera really never lie?

I started from the word ‘birds’. Over coffee, Sandra was talking about some of the other plays and a few of them seemed to include birds in some way or another. Immediately I knew what I wanted to write about – the Aberystwyth starlings! I used to work in the Old College and one of the treats of Autumn was watching the starlings on the promenade practicing for migration, swooping low over the pier. On a dusky evening you can soon see crowds gather – and everybody seems to have a camera on them. I started to wonder about the voices you might hear when people are watching the starlings, trying to set up the perfect shot, and I wanted to have the action in the air mirrored by something equally startling and dramatic happening on the ground.

You are fairly new to audio writing, what where the differences in how you thought about finding an idea for an audio play?
I discarded a few ideas, oddly enough because they weren’t ‘visual’ enough. This surprised me. In theatre you can have two people talking in a room and it will work, but I couldn’t make it work when I just had voices. I had to find a story that I could make the audience ‘see’.

How different did you find the writing process working on an audio play? Did you do anything differently?
I found myself thinking really hard about voices – not in terms of accents but in terms of trying really hard to get different cadences, different line lengths, different vocabulary  into the mouths of the characters. Finding a way to bring out character without the use of props, gestures etc, was a really fun challenge.

What did you learn about writing an audio drama from the EarCandy project?
The thing I learned most was that you have to hear it to know if it is going to work. That’s why working in a group is so useful. When my play was read back to me by the group I could hear the parts that didn’t work, the lines that were cumbersome. It was incredibly helpful.

What was your favourite thing about writing for audio?
The freedom is brilliant – you can take things anywhere. For this project I only took the audience to Aberystwyth Seafront, but for my next project I’m going to take them to an Egyptian tomb. Anything’s possible.

What was your least favourite thing about writing for audio?
Finding a way to express changes in pace or mood without using gestures was hard work, but really rewarding, so although it was a challenge, I guess it’s still not a ‘least favourite’ thing as it paid off and I learned a lot.

Tell me about any other projects you are working on at the moment.
The project has inspired me to try a longer Radio play and I’m working on a project that came into my head when visiting an exhibition about ancient Chinese burial rites in a museum in Cambridge.  I’m also working on a full-length Children’s novel that is a Victorian steampunk story about a girl with strange powers.

Starlings a short audio drama by Sarah Taylor is available to listen to at the EarCandy website

Interview with the giver of the paternal sample (Miles)

My Mother Told Me by Rachel McAdam. Illustration by Boz Groden

My Mother Told Me by Rachel McAdam. Illustration by Boz Groden

MILES:
Well we all know she’s mad, don’t we…?
Q:
You’re saying you think your ex-wife suffers from some kind of mental heath issue?
MILES:
Well I’m not saying she’s angry here…
Q:
No?
MILES:
No. I’ve got concerns around her capacity to maintain a healthy grip on reality.  Perhaps it’s the menopause….
Q:
How did you feel, about the paternity test?
MILES:
It’s all a bit Jeremy Kyle isn’t it? I mean no man likes to be considered impotent and that’s essentially what she was saying, but I have to consider Evelyn first and foremost in all this.
Q:
So you took the test for Evelyn’s sake?
MILES:
Well it’s not a good feeling leaving your daughter with someone who’s utterly incapable of controlling their emotions. If this is what it takes to get Evelyn out of that madhouse then I’m happy to do it.
Q:
Do you believe Evelyn is your daughter?
MILES:
She’s got my eyes, and my brains, she certainly didn’t get those from her. Look, she knows I’ve asked Evelyn to live with us. This story she’s come up with is pure fabrication. Simple spite. She used to try to make me feel guilty for leaving her and because that’s not working anymore she’s come up with this. It’s just another way to get at me.
Q:
Is it working?
MILES:
No. Actually I’m glad she’s done this. At least Evelyn is seeing her for what she is. It was never going to be easy for her to leave her mother and come and live with me, this paternity stuff is making it all a heck of a lot easier.
Q:
Have you ever considered your ex-wife could be telling the truth about Evelyn’s parentage?
MILES:
It would make a nonsense out of all the maintenance I’ve paid over the years, wouldn’t it?
Q:
So the money is important?
MILES:
What? No. That’s not the point. She’s my daughter and I love her and nothing’s going to change that. Print that in your blog or whatever…

My Mother Told Me by Rachel McAdam is part of the Earcandy audio drama project by Scriptography Productions. 12 plays by 13 writers, 15 performers playing over 50 characters. Listen to My Mother Told Me at the EarCandy website. Follow the project www.facebook.com/earcandyaudiodrama or @earcandy_plays

Five minutes with …..

The Planning Stage by Matt Christmas. Illustration by Boz Groden

The Planning Stage by Matt Christmas. Illustration by Boz Groden

INTERVIEWER: First of all, congratulations on your new play.

A: Thank you, Thom.

INTERVIEWER: A lot of people are calling it your best work to date.

A: Well that’s immensely gratifying of course.
I and the rest of the creative team have been pretty thrilled with the reaction so far.  We always felt we had a really strong concept
right from day one.  The tough part was
finding that special something to hold it all together, that hook that gave such massive themes a relatable context.  Because, after all, I’ve always been clear that I’m writing to reach as wide an audience as possible, so it’s really important to me that the characters speak to and for the metaphorical man in the street.

INTERVIEWER: And that “something” has its roots in the depiction of a father’s relationship with his son, right?

A: Primarily, yes.

INTERVIEWER: The exploration of the father/son dynamic is something that crops up in a lot of your work, is that part of the way you seek to speak to that “man in the street”?

A: Absolutely, and I think all those previous pieces you’re alluding to have been laying the groundwork for this story, this particular father/son narrative.  I hesitate to call it the greatest father/son story ever told, but I think it’s up there!

INTERVIEWER: Sure, sure.  However, one criticism that has been laid at your door is that your plays lack strong female characters.  How would you respond to that?

A: What do you mean?

INTERVIEWER: Just that your plays have been accused, in some quarters, of being overly male-centric, often side-lining female characters to the point that they become cyphers rather than fully formed characters.

A: I don’t think that’s at all fair.  And anyway, name one writer currently working who doesn’t prioritise their male characters.  Trust me, the time will come when that’ll change, but in the current social climate it’s all about exploring the male condition…

INTERVIEWER: But surely that doesn’t make it right?  And can you understand how some people may believe that your attitude simply serves to perpetuate the current social climate?  Someone in your position, with the wide-ranging influence you have as an opinion former, could begin to redress the gender imbalance so that…

A: Let me just stop you there for a moment because I see what you’re suggesting and I just have to say that in my younger days I, like you apparently, was possessed of a more activist, even interventionist, streak.  That’s not a criticism, by the way, far from it.  And I completely agree that women currently get a pretty raw deal and that should certainly change.  The thing is, though, the longer I’ve stuck around in this old world the more I’ve realised that forced, rapid change is seldom for the best.  People need to come to realise their misjudgements naturally, only then can they really commit to being better and making the world better in the way that you’re talking about.  Look, we’re just telling a story here, and it has a lot of really positive messages and ideas for those that wish to hear them.  If it encourages just one person to be more compassionate, loving and forgiving, it will have made a positive difference.  And maybe – just maybe – my alleged “side-lining” of female characters is actually part of a more complex plan to encourage people to notice the gender imbalance and engage with the issue on a more fundamental level.  Have you ever considered that?

INTERVIEWER: I’m sorry, but that just feels like an evasion of the worst kind.

A: I believe your five minutes are up.  Thank you again, Thom.  It’s been a pleasure as always.

The Planning Stage by Matt Christmas is part of the Earcandy audio drama project by Scriptography Productions. 12 plays by 13 writers, 15 performers playing over 50 characters. Listen to The Planning Stage at the EarCandy website. Follow the project www.facebook.com/earcandyaudiodrama or @earcandy_plays