Crash Test is back!

Crash Test will be back on Tuesday 10th April at The Storehouse at 8PM.

Following on from their project PlayPen, supporting seven writers to get to the end of writing a full-length play, they are back supporting new writers to test out their work in front of a supportive and extremely informal environment.

Crash Test nights have previously been held at the RAFA Club (before it became Bar 46), The Boat Club, Boulders Cafe in Borth and Aberystwyth Arts Centre and has now found a new home at The Storehouse. (the wine selection and extensive gin collection was in no way an influence on the decision when looking for a new host!)

The Storehouse is a Grill and Cocktail Bar on the ground floor of the iconic Rummers Wine Bar. The building which was originally built as a mill storehouse was the very first theatre space in Aberystwyth. It was a theatre from about 1818 in which the renowned actress Sarah Siddons performed. (Though we know it was a theatre there is some uncertainty about which part of the building housed the theatre so any local historians please feel free to get in touch as we would love to know more.)

 Crash Test is a scratch night which offers writers and performers the chance to share work in development in a supportive environment. Previous scratch nights have included comedy sketches, cabaret, plays, short film scripts, storytelling, poetry, performance art and stand-up comedy – the rule is as long as it involves performance and words then it’s good to go though we have once waived the words rule!)

Crash Test is hosted by performance artist, writer and stand-up comedian James Baker who brings a very innovative style to the evening creating a fun, hilarious and unique experience for audience. (This basically means anything goes and no-one really knows where James comedic style will take him so prepare for the unexpected!) The event is curated by writer and producer Sandra Bendelow from Scriptography Productions.

The project is an open and inclusive project which welcomes participation. If you are a writer or performer who would like to take part then get in contact with scriptographyproductions@gmail.com Everyone is welcome to get involved.

Sandra Bendelow said,  “we are delighted to be back with Crash Test which has always been such a fun night for participants and audiences as we test out new work on audiences. We will be holding the event every two months through the summer as we want more people to be able to take part. We are thrilled to be in partnership with The Storehouse at Rummers Wine Bar to present the event and excited to be bringing theatre back to such an iconic venue in Aberystwyth.”

Noson sgratch yw Crash Test sydd yn cynnig cyfle i awduron a pherfformwyr i rannu gwaith ar waith mewn amgylchedd ddiogel. Y mae nosweithiau blaenorol wedi cynnwys perfformiadau comedi, cabaret, dramau, sgriptiau byrion ar gyfer ffilm, adrodd straeon, barddoniaeth, a chelfyddyd perfformiadol.

Arweinir y noswaith gan James Baker, sydd yn artist perfformio, awdur a digrifwr sydd, drwy ei steil gwreiddiol, yn rhoi stamp hwyliog, doniol ac unigryw ar y noson, ac fe’i trefnir gan yr awdur a’r cynhyrchydd Sandra Bendelow o Scriptography Productions.

The event is free. There will be an opportunity at the end of the evening to Pay What you Want

Death Comes to St Michaels by Tom O’Malley

PlayPen Get to the End – Gets to the End. On 13th March 7:45PM at Aberystwyth Arts Centre the project will be presenting the final full-length play, Death Comes to St Michaels written by Tom O’Malley, directed by Caroline Clark and performed by Denise Williams, Jason Philpot, Jeremy Newman, Alex Gilbey, Huw Evans, Billy Taylor-Adam, Daz O’Connell, Lynne Baker, Sean Byrne, Paula Gallagher, Emma Sims, Heather Giles.

Death Comes to St Michaels sees an untimely death disturb a dinner party in a sleepy seaside town. It is left to the new vicar and a local reporter to help the Inspector unravel the truth.

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. 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 produced by Richard Hogger, Tom O’Malley and Sandra Bendelow.

Tickets are available from the box office 01970 623232 or https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theatre/death-comes-st-michaels

 

7# Five things from Tom O’Malley

Death Comes to St Michael’s is the seventh and final in our series of rehearsed readings for new full length plays. We asked all of the writers participating in PlayPen Get to the End to share the five things that stopped them and the five things that helped them Get to the End. Here the writer of Death Comes to St Michaels, Tom O’Malley shares his five things.

5 things that stopped you getting to the end

  • Starting without a clear enough idea of what I was meant to be doing.
  • Sitting at my desk and planning too much
  • Doing too much research, i.e. searching you tube for murder mystery plays
  • Giving up too readily and too early in the process
  • Looking for biscuits, not finding them, going to the shop, and making coffee – too often

5 things that helped you?

  • Deciding on a plan and sticking to it, at least for the first draft
  • Sitting at my desk and putting pen to paper – regardless of the consequences
  • Switching off the TV
  • Not allowing myself any biscuits or coffee if I even considered giving up.
  • Looking forward to finishing it!!!

Death Comes to St Michaels is written by Tom O’ Malley, directed by Caroline Clark performed by Lynne Baker, Denise Williams, Heather Giles, Paula Gallagher, Emma Simms,  It will be presented as a script in hand reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 13th March at 7:45PM

Tickets for Death Comes to St Michaels are available through the box office 01970 623232 or https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theatre/death-comes-st-michaels

 

More information on PlayPen Get to the End is available here

 

A director’s perspective on PlayPen

We have been thrilled to be able to offer people the opportunity direct for the first time as part of the Playpen process, as a rehearsed reading the play offers the chance to give directing a go in a supportive environment and relatively pressure free. Here Roger Boyle one of our new-to-directing directors talks about the experience.
How would you describe the experience of directing for the first time?

I suppose it is the first time, as other times I have directed were ages ago and really rather different.  Having been on the receiving end [acting] I know that all directors are different, and distilling good practice is not simply observation as the character of the individual and the practice cannot really be disentangled.  So I didn’t worry about just doing it “my way” and have found that personally satisfactory, but getting clear opinion from the cast will be difficult, I think.

How did you approach the piece?
The piece turned out to be rather different to the sample 20m we did last spring and gave some challenges.  A lot of it is driven by events and people who/which are not displayed and often are wholly implicit, so I wanted the cast to agree on what those features actually were.

What do you think are the challenges, good and bad, of working with a new play with the writer involved in the process?
A composer once told me that the worst thing about publishing a piece of music was that you lose all control over it; musicians/conductors can interpret it however they please and if you don’t like it, tough.  As a writer, I agree (although my director was very sympathetic to my intentions).  So having the writer present certainly allowed gaps in intent to be filled easily in most cases – but not all; after casting a character as male I learned that [s]he had been intended to be female.  There wasn’t much I could do about that.  That sort of experience actually helped me as a writer – be very clear about what you want if you definitely don’t want the director to fiddle with it.

Who has inspired you as a director?
Unfacetiously, every director I have worked with.  The variety of approaches and ideas has been of great value, even if they are things I did not choose to use.

Have you enjoyed directing – would you do it again?
I’d jump at the opportunity if given it, but it’s a privilege to be earned: whoever is staging or writing something needs to have some faith in you.

Why do you think audiences should come and see the play?
To be entertained by a piece of theatre

Blinds written by Caroline Clark, directed by Roger Boyle. performed by Lynne Baker, Huldah Knox-Thomas, Catrin Fflur Huws, James Baker, Bob Cook, Denise Williams. It will be presented as a script in hand reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 13th February

Tickets for Blinds are available through the box office 01970 623232 or https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theatre/blinds

The final PlayPen Get to the End project will be presented as follows

13th March 7.45PM 2018 – Death Comes to St Michaels written by Tom O’Malley, Directed by Caroline Clark

More information on PlayPen Get to the End is available here

6# Five things by Caroline Clark

Blinds was written by Caroline Clark. Here are the fine things that stopped and the five things that helped her Get to the End.

‘Blinds’ was atypical as it is based on an existing short story so the end ( in the plot sense) was there from the start. The problems in completing were :

Trying to get the individual voices right.

Trying to balance filling out the characters against slowing the action.

Deciding whether to stay with the single location or open it out.

Deciding whether to stay with the “snap” ending or not.

Things that helped:

seeing & hearing it played.

The reactions of the actors and the clarity they gave to the characters.

Advice on where the text was too thin.

Seeing how other scripts developed.

Hearing the approaches of professional writers.

Blinds written by Caroline Clark, directed by Roger Boyle. performed by Lynne Baker, Huldah Knox-Thomas, Catrin Fflur Huws, James Baker, Bob Cook, Denise Williams. It will be presented as a script in hand reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 13th February

Tickets for Blinds are available through the box office 01970 623232 or https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theatre/blinds

The final two PlayPen Get to the End project will be presented as follows

13th March 7.45PM 2018 – Death Comes to St Michaels written by Tom O’Malley, Directed by Caroline Clark

More information on PlayPen Get to the End is available here

Finding my way back to writing: Interview with Katharina Hone

Tell me a little about the writing that you did before beginning Space Oddity.
Writing a play and then talking about writing a play are two very different things. So, this is slightly strange, even stranger than actually writing the play. But let me begin at the beginning: this is the first play I have written. It is also the longest piece of fiction I have written in a very long time. Somewhere around first grade I was sure that I would be a writer – that or an astronaut. And then time passed and I started to write academically, formally, scientifically. And somewhere around there, I got lost. Space Oddity might be the way back.

What is Space Oddity about and what do you think audiences will like about it?
It is 2024, Dr No is the first astronaut to return from a mission to Mars. Waiting for her first public appearance, she meets a theoretical physicist and an engineer. Both were involved in her mission but have now taken new identities, calling themselves Armstrong and Gagarin. The three debate the meaning of space exploration and scientific discoveries and discuss the future of humanity, while increasingly loosing the orbit around sanity. As time and space recede into the background and chaos and disorder increase, Dr No realises that you cannot “go where no one has gone before” and still keep circling the same old ideas of progress.

I am asking some very big questions in the play. What does it mean to go to Mars? Where do we go from here? Who benefits? Can we progress, keep exploring, and keep developing new technologies without confronting our own flawed nature?

Yet, my three protagonists also get incredibly drunk, spin in circles, choreograph their own planet dance, and have imaginary pets. They have fun together and they don’t take themselves too seriously. One of them asks, “Craziness aside? When crazy is all we have left?” They seek serious answers, but they understand that the answer might not come from being all too serious.

Despite the profound questions that are brought to the stage, I hope audiences also simply have fun with the characters and keep exploring with them and spinning with them.

How did the idea for Space Oddity begin and how was the idea developed?
When the first cosmonauts and astronauts reached orbit and saw Earth as the one small planet on which we all live, the idea emerged that now we would come together as a species. We would realise our own fragility and how ridiculous our conflicts are. Many believed that space exploration would contribute to greater self-understanding and to living together more harmoniously on one planet. It almost doesn’t need to be pointed out, but: this has not happened. Why?

In the play, I am putting three people together in a confined space and apply some pressure. The three are at the forefront of exploration and of stretching beyond the boundary of what seemed impossible before. They know that going to Mars is an incredible achievement, but they are also slightly desperate. They understand that if we continue like this as a species, it cannot end well. They seek meaning in all of it, they challenge the idea of progress, and they wonder where to go from here.

How has Playpen Get to the End helped you as a writer? Would you recommend Playpen to others and why?
For me, PlayPen was a bit like gravity: a constant providing certainty and holding me in place. I don’t think I could have done it without the programme. To have workshops with the other playwrights, to get guidance on the play, to have actors spend their time on reading the script, and then to see everything on stage has been indispensable. Upon returning from Mars, my main protagonist says, “I am still trying to find my bearings. At least gravity is holding me in place.” PlayPen had exactly this role for me. It held me in place.

PlayPen has taken you through from beginning to writing a draft – what things have changed from your original idea through to the draft being presented at the end of January?
I wanted to write about science and I wanted to write about space. I grew up on a weekly diet of Start Trek Next Generation. And, as I said, I wanted to be an astronaut in first grade – that or a writer. So, I already had a few ingredients in place. Conceptually, plays like Brecht’s Life of Galileo and Dürrenmatt’s The Physicists came to my mind first. They focus on the moral responsibility of scientists.  But this turned a lot more personal when I started exploring Dr No’s journey and the doubts she is facing despite having accomplished her childhood dream and being the personification of human ingenuity and technological progress. Her doubts and her journey towards finding an answer became the guiding post for the play.

What has been the most surprising thing about the journey as a writer, writing a play for theatre for the first time?
It’s magic. There are things that I am not in control of that somehow just emerge in the process or are brought in by the different people working to get this piece on stage. There are transformations and emergences that seemingly come out of nowhere. Suddenly things hang together and connections between different characters or different parts of the play appear. It is my play, but it is also something else and to see this emerge in the rehearsals and then on stage is simply magic.

Space Oddity is written by Katharina Hone, directed by James Baker and performed by Catrin Fflur Huws, Darren O’ Connell and Jason Philpot. It will be presented as a rehearsed reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Tuesday 23rd January 7.45PM

Tickets for Space Oddity are available through the box office 01970 623232 or  https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theatre/playpen-space-oddity

The final two PlayPen Get to the End projects will be presented as follows

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

5# Five things by Katharina Hone

Getting to the End; Five things that helped and five things that stopped Katharina Hone

Getting to the first draft … five things that held me back.

“Each decision spawns a different universe. Not chance, but meaning. We are making meaning, we are creating the universe.” One of my characters discussed the multiverse theory, which is the idea that there are parallel universes. Some similar to ours, other very, very different. The question is: what do we decide? I found this a bit scary. Every change in the script creates a slightly different play. But was this change the right decision? Should it be another change, another play, another universe?

“Monsters of meaning.” One of my characters prefers facts to interpretation and the meaning we give to these facts. Meaning also followed me throughout the writing process. Does this play mean something? But wait, what is it that I actually want to say? Will the audience get it?

“Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one … and …” And then nothing, because blank pages are evil. They stare back at you without mercy.

“Madness, when we are merely faking it?” Am I a playwright or am I faking it? Self-doubt is not a friend.

“The fear?” “The fear!” “Yes, tell us about the fear.” “Excuse me?”  I guess this one is self-explanatory. Fear is also not a friend.

Getting to the first draft … five things that helped:

“To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.” It’s one of those famous sci-fi quotes that still resonate with me from my childhood. Two of my characters mention it at the beginning of the play. One of them even mocks the unmitigated spirit of exploration and progress that the quote exudes. Yet, the quote really touches on something. This is my first play and the excitement of exploring something new and to boldly go where I have never been before were incredible. Theatre is a strange new world for me and I didn’t have any pre-conception or expectations, nothing previous to compare myself to. And I found that’s the best possible situation to be in. So, I boldly explored.

“I am still trying to find my bearings. At least gravity is holding me in place,” says the main character who has just returned from Mars. For me, PlayPen was a bit like gravity: a constant providing certainty and holding me in place. I don’t think I could have done it without the programme. To have workshops with the other playwrights, to get guidance on the play, to have actors spend their time on reading the script, and then to see everything on stage has been indispensible and incredible.

“Failed again? Try again! Fall six times. Get up seven.” This is what one of my characters says when he tries to be encouraging. It’s almost too cheesy to have an effect. But there you go!

“It’s like circling a planet without ever landing.” To keep sane, you simply have to declare yourself finished at some point. At least temporarily. Everyone has to come down from orbit.

“Too late. There is only one way to go now.” Deadlines. They are your friends.

Space Oddity is written by Katharina Hone, directed by James Baker and performed by Catrin Fflur Huws, Darren O’ Connell and Jason Philpot. It will be presented as a rehearsed reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Tuesday 23rd January 7.45PM

Tickets for Space Oddity are available through the box office 01970 623232 or  https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theatre/playpen-space-oddity

The final two PlayPen Get to the End projects will be presented as follows

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

 

 

 

Space Oddity by Katharina Hone

PlayPen Get to the End will be presenting the fifth of seven full-length plays in development at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 23rd January at 7:45PM. The play is Space Oddity by Katharina Hone, a thought-provoking play about space exploration and the state of humanity.

Space Oddity is written by Katharina Hone, directed by James Baker and performed by Catrin Fflur Huws, Darren O’ Connell and Jason Philpot.

While humanity celebrates the first successful round-trip to Mars, it takes three slightly deranged employees of the Mars Odyssey company – an astronaut, a theoretical physicist, and a space engineer – to raise serious questions about the future of humanity. Facing such formidable concerns the three cannot help but turn a little bit loopy.

The writer Katharina Hone said, “-To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.- It’s one of those famous sci-fi quotes that still resonate with me from my childhood. Two of my characters mention it at the beginning of the play. One of them even mocks the unmitigated spirit of exploration and progress that the quote exudes. Yet, the quote really touches on something. This is my first play and the excitement of exploring something new and to boldly go where I have never been before were incredible. Theatre is a strange new world for me and I didn’t have any pre-conception or expectations, nothing previous to compare myself to. That’s a great situation to be in!. And so, I boldly explored.”

Sandra Bendelow said, “I am particularly proud of Space Oddity and the role the PlayPen project played in supporting Katharina to get to the end of writing the script. Katharina was taking a scriptwriting course I teach for Aberystwyth University Lifelong Learning, she was completely new to scriptwriting and the idea evolved from an exercise I did to push the writers to get an idea to use for the course. As soon as she explained her idea I was really excited about the potential. It started as a film script but quickly she realised that it had real power as a theatre script. I was really pleased when Katharina submitted the idea to Playpen as it’s perfect for a writer like Katharina – it provides a deadline, workshops and the invaluable and very rare opportunity to have a play taken from the page and staged. It allowed Katharina to explore her idea and challenged her to push the idea further. It has also been a great experience for the director and the cast because the play offers three great, distinctive characters for them to play and allows a director to explore the themes visually and physically. ”

James Baker said, “It instantly struck me as a unique voice. From basically the first page I was dead set on directing the play. It was such an interesting beast, just rammed full of ideas and strange concepts, disinclined to naturalism and a comfortable sense of reality. Bouncing between philosophical monologues and berserk physical theatre. It’s the sort of theatre I want to see more of in general.  Since the first 20 minutes were written the play has changed dramatically. Or not so much changed as grown. Or matured. It’s finished its story, obviously, its characters have rounded out and their personalities and inter-relationships are now positively vivid. Its action has become more diverse, its range of tones has spread and its rhythm has settled into a controlled chaos. All of this is down to Katharina’s astonishing speed at getting to grips with writing the form without compromising her own vision for the work. It’s been a joy having her along for the process. She takes on board all the feedback offered, considers it all and, crucially, just only does what feels right to her in the end. I cannot wait to see how good her second play is going to be!”

Catrin Fflur Huws said, “What delights me about this role of Dr No is the different facets of the character. What came across when I originally read it was that the two men are a little boys’ club who have their in-jokes and their loyalty to each other, that she is excluded from. She’s therefore got a tough job prove herself and to not accept the superiority they assume – she is equal to them, and intelligent. She has just as much of a right to be there as them. That strength is fun to play. However, that contrasts very effectively with her more personal moments when she is amazed and humbled and overwhelmed and entranced by how tiny she is, how small she is in a massive universe.”

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. 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 produced by Richard Hogger, Tom O’Malley and Sandra Bendelow.

Space Oddity will be at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Tuesday 23rd January 7.45PM

Tickets for Space Oddity are available through the box office 01970 623232 or  https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theatre/playpen-space-oddity

The final two PlayPen Get to the End projects will be presented as follows

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

Just Things by Catrin Fflur Huws

Play Get To the End will be presenting the fourth of seven full length plays in development tonight at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 7.45PM. The latest play to be presented is Just Things by Catrin Fflur Huws, a thought provoking, challenging play which explores several issues including abuse and abortion.

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.

Just Things 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?

Sian Taylor, Director said, “It may sound contradictory, given the subject matter, to say that working on this has been a joy. As a director I’ve been fortunate to pair a strong and clever script with strong and clever performers, who have committed themselves to their characters and relationships, and in the process we’ve had some long discussions about and around the themes of the piece, arguably a necessary part of bringing a script to life with the integrity it commands. It is a script exploring difficult themes, and is constructed in a way which blends time and place, the real and the imagined, and so gives the director and performers the freedom to stage it in a way which brings out the interconnectivity of the various elements of story. Having Catrin in rehearsals has been invaluable, and has worked as a two-way process for developing the performance and the script itself.”

Sandra Bendelow, Producer said, “We have been absolutely thrilled by the responses to PlayPen Get to the End from audience and participants. It’s been really exciting to take the project through to this stage. We never intended to do all seven plays, we started off just wanting to present the first twenty minutes and then do some workshops but all the plays showed such potential that we just had to present all of them. There are many aspects of the project which make me really proud, it was great to see Rachel McAdam, a screenwriter embrace the form of theatre writing and really push herself to explore the form, the fact that Katarina Hone has written a script for the very first time let alone a full length play which embraces such huge concepts is really great. But in particular I am really proud that we have created the support that allowed Catrin to get to the end of writing her second full play and follow up to To Kill a Machine. Not only the achievement of getting to the end but the fact that we have allowed her to really explore and play with the structure of the play to find the most effective way to present such a thought provoking play. I am also really thrilled that it contains four really great female characters – something we so rarely see.”

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. 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 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

Tickets for Just Things available here

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