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