4# Five things from Catrin Fflur Huws

The things that stopped me getting to the end were:

1. The Eastenders problem. The characters were not employing different strategies to avoid their opponents, they were simply shouting at each other in a competition to see who can shout loudest and for longest. Leave it outside Tiffany my dear, the bounder simply is not worth the endeavour.

2. The horror film problem. There was a difficult balance to be achieved between revealing the monster, and therefore diffusing the horror, and being too abstract in the depiction of the horror, in a way that makes the audience lose interest.

3. The Parent Trap problem. In a film where the same actor plays multiple characters, the film can be filmed out of sequence, giving Hayley Mills/Lindsay Lohan an opportunity to change character and costume. This is difficult to do convincingly in a drama, without some farcical costume changes. The world has moved on from the hilarity of trousers falling down to reveal – golly how amusing – a pair of very funny long johns.

4. The Wizard of Oz problem. In The Wizard of Oz, glorious Technicolor (TM) is used to depict the transition from Kansas to Oz, from the real to the imagined. On stage, this is difficult to achieve without some very cheesy psychadelia. Done well it is sublime, done less than well it is substandard. Early drafts were regrettably in the latter category.

5. The Shylock problem. In The Merchant of Venice, there is no easy solution to the dilemma – either Shylock wins and Antonio is killed, or Antonio wins and Shylock is punished. Both characters elicit our sympathies, making it difficult to decide which option is to be preferred. However, goody-goodies and baddy-baddies are far easier to write.

The things that helped me were:

1. The Goldilocks solution. Goldilocks tries different varieties of porridge before she settles on the right one. Similarly, I tried the David Lynch approach (too rich), the Harold Pinter approach (too salty) before achieving a more appropriate balance.

2. The Mr Ben solution. In every episode of Mr Ben, Mr Ben tries on different costumes before the shopkeeper appears and he must go home. I tried telling this story from Allason’s perspective, from the Doctor’s perspective and from Miranda’s perspective.

3. The Cinderella solution. C’mon. Seriously now, how much of a pumpkin would I look, calling myself a playwright, and not being able to write a play before the clock strikes midnight? Deadlines and the possibility of a performance really help.

4. The Emperor’s New Clothes Solution. In the Emperor’s New Clothes, the little child points out that despite the adulation of the emperor’s splendour, there is nothing there, and I often feel the same with many “critically acclaimed” plays – quite often there is nothing there. I am therefore motivated by wanting to write the sort of play that I would like to see, and enjoy the process of working on crafting the structure – the rise and fall of success and failure, the dialogue, the truthfulness of the characters and their motivations.

5. The Ebenezer Scrooge solution. In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is confronted by the consequences of his actions. He is shown what he has done. Is he proud of his achievements? No. When I am writing therefore, I am motivated by the question ‘could you be proud of what you have done?’ and if I look at it and conclude ‘no, it was rubbish’ then I feel a sense of shame at having inflicted it on actors, directors, and a paying (or non-paying) audience. I feel a sense of responsibility not to waste other people’s time with something inferior.

Just things written by Catrin Fflur Huws directed by Sian Taylor performed by Lynne Baker, Emily Jeffery, Billie Taylor-Adam, Denise Williams and Tom O’Malley will be presented as a script in hand reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 5th December 2017 7.45PM

This is a play about truth. Is it better to know the truth or is it better sometimes simply to let sleeping dogs lie? Is is better to speak or forever to remain silent? Truth or gin?

Tickets for Just Things available here

PlayPen Get to the End began in March 2017 with PlayPen: Beginnings, with the first twenty minutes of 8 plays by local writers across 2 nights featuring 42 characters and performed by over 30 actors. The project originally planned to take one play, selected by the audience as the winner, through to a full reading. However as the standard and potential of all the plays were so strong the company decided to present all the plays as full length readings. This part of the project has been named ‘Get to the End’ in reference to the project supporting writers to achieve the very simple but often evasive task of simply getting to the end of writing a play.

PlayPen: Get to the End is a development project by Scriptography Productions in Association with Aberystwyth Arts Centre, produced by Richard Hogger, Tom O’Malley and Sandra Bendelow.

23rd January 7.45PM 2018 -Space Oddity written by Katharina Hone, Directed by James Baker

13th February 7.45PM 2018 – Blinds written by Caroline Clark, Directed by Roger Boyle

13th March 7.45PM 2018 – Death Comes to St Michaels

written by Tom O’Malley, Directed by Caroline Clark

Responding to Ceredigion Archives

8th November 7PM (with follow-up sessions)

The Explore Your Archive workshop at Ceredigion Archives will be a practical exploration of the collections and the creation of a response in any form to information in the archives. The workshop will be led by Sandra Bendelow and will offer an introductory session to the archives followed by a practical creative workshop and will take place on 8th November 7PM – 9:30PM. Participants will be supported in having their work performed or presented as part of an event on the evening of 23rd November during Explore Your Archive week.

At Ceredigion Archives they have 500 years of Ceredigion history. A vast wealth of stories; lives, places, events, recorded in image and words.

A few chosen samples from the archive are available on the following link to give you a small taster of the incredible resource available to delve into

We are looking for creative responses in any form; visual art, film, performance art, music, poetry, prose, film, movement, song, photography, craft and dance and we will support collaborations of any art form. We also welcome participants to the workshop who would just like to explore and be inspired creatively by the archive.

Sandra Bendelow is a writer and arts producer creating platforms for new writing and new writers. For several years she has been producing a cross-artform project Response Time; a performed response to art, space and environment at The Gas Gallery, and also at National Museum Wales Artes Mundi, Aber Arts Centre to Tim Shaw. She was selected by National Theatre Wales as an Emerging Producer and a mentoring producer.
She runs the PlayPen project for Aberystwyth Arts Centre which is supporting 7 writers to write full length plays and teaches scriptwriting courses at Aberystwyth University’s Lifelong Learning Department.

The workshop will take place at Ceredigion Archives which is housed on the first floor of Old Town Hall (the same building as Aberystwyth Town Library). The event during Explore your Archive week will take place throughout the Library & Archives.

3# Five things from Rachel McAdam

Things that stopped me getting to the end of writing the play…and the things that helped.

1) Procrastination and distraction. Should I go this way, or that way — I’ll just read this interesting article and then I’ll know. The dishes need washing. Oooh, it’s sunny. I’ve an email. It’s raining. I’m hungry… etc.  I’ve found no surefire way to stop procrastination and distraction, but sometimes telling myself that the burst of adrenalin that accompanies an idea and tells me to get up and move around or do something else is a surge of energy to get on and write not anything else and I should stay put and bang some words out — even if I have to edit them later.

2) The desire to perfect everything else first. I know I shouldn’t re-write from the begining each time I go to write but the temptation to do it is very strong. My excuse is I’m trying to get into the voice of a character and make sure they stay in that voice and that it’s consistant throughout but I’m not sure that really washes. In the end I just have to force myself to put something down, knowing I can go on to edit and rewrite from there. There are quite often gems to be found when you return to what you thought would be shit and at least you’ll have put some kind of structure there to follow later.

3) Finding a meaningful and fitting closure. Thinking deeply about my character and how she would go on after the life altering experience she had. 

4) My keyboard refusing to write the letter ‘D’. Randomly the second row on my keyboard refuses to co-operate. Very frustrating. The only way I’ve found to clear it is to absolutely hammer the keys like a demented piano player repeatedly thumping out the first chords to Beehoven’s fifth. 

5) Working out the tone I wanted to end with. Going from comedy to tragedy I wanted to end on a slightly comic note, so finding the scene that would do that and be a closure after everything that happens to my main character was important. Making the decision that it was at it’s heart a comedy and having someone tell me that comedies should end on a funny note no matter how dark or emotional it’s been in the middle. Obviously they’re omitting the final of Black Adder goes Forth — but thousands and thousands of casualties in that war was a tragedy…

Fat lotta Good written by Rachel McAdam, directed by Patrick Kavanagh, performed by Lynne Baker, Anna Beyer and Daz O’Connell will be presented as a script in hand reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 14th November 2017 7.45PM

Follow the decline and fall of Daily Mail reader and unsympathetic Job Centre worker, Sharon Thomas. Abandoned by her unfaithful Guardian reading husband and her beloved son, empty-nester Sharon receives an invitation to her son’s school prize-giving evening and is spurred into action. With only the voices in her head and her domineering boss to guide her Sharon embarks on a diet-based mission to show her man what he’s been missing. However, as she counts the calories fate prepares the cruelest of reckonings.