Back in 2016 two members of the Writing for Performance Group, Roger Boyle and Tom O’Malley said they wanted to have a go at writing a full-length play. The various scratch events we held like Crash Test had left them fairly confident with short pieces but the task of competing a full length play still felt a little too big for them without help. So we created Playpen Beginnings so that we could allow as many writers as possible a chance to take part. We placed a call for submissions of the first twenty minutes of a full-length play and devised a series of three day long workshops covering all the basics needed to write a full length play including character development, style, structure. We held a two-day event to present the selected eight beginnings of plays and opened them to an audience in March. We planned to select one piece to be presented a full length rehearsed reading but during those two nights we discovered that we had eight plays with amazing potential. Also that everyone involved in presenting the pieces; actors and some directors trying their hand at directing for the first time had enjoyed the project so much it seemed that we had only one choice.
PlayPen Get to the End is the result – the mammoth task of presenting seven plays as full length rehearsed readings over the next eight months – presenting one a month more or less. The range of styles and subjects in the plays is quite breath taking and we are very proud of many things in this project. Each writer involved in the project has been a huge journey of learning and challenged themselves at every step of writing. Katrina Hone began the project as a complete beginner to scriptwriting and now has a full length play with huge potential Space Oddity which explores mental health, humanity and space exploration. James Baker an experienced performance artist/stand-up comedian who regularly writes one-man shows has created a challenging work about mental health which smashes through styles and theatre. Rachel McAdam a very experienced screen writer has created a theatre piece in which she has pushed herself to explore theatrical conventions and created two amazing roles for actors. Roger Boyle has created a beautiful play which presents the challenge of two timelines working seamlessly to explore a daughter’s grief, Caroline Clark has created a lovely piece of theatre which delves into family secrets and Tom O’Malley has met the huge challenge he set himself of writing a murder mystery which 13 characters with the mastery of a far more experienced writer. Last but not least Catrin Fflur Huws, the writer of To Kill a Machine has achieved something which has alluded her for many years now – she has finished her second full length play and it is an astonishing piece of writing. We are very proud that this “small” project has achieved so much.
But that’s not all – as we began the project we asked if anyone wanted to try their hand at directing. One of those who came forward was Denise Williams, who has in the space of a year made the journey from a very nervous director on PlayPen Beginnings to directing In Mother’s Footsteps. Watching rehearsals the nerves of her first attempt are nowhere to be seen and she handles a rehearsal room with the skills of an extremely confident and experienced director. Catrin Fflur Huws decided to try her hand at directing too and has worked with James Baker’s play in a way which has challenged and pushed him as a writer and there is no doubt that the play has been fundamentally impacted by her directorial ideas. Not only has the project created new plays and new writers but new directors too.
We are incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of talented community actors who are willing to help us present these readings. But they too have enjoyed the experience, have enjoyed bringing characters to life for the first time. They have embraced and explored the journey with the writers of being there at the very beginning of the creation of a play and helping the writers Get to the End. They have been an integral part of this incredible achievement of getting eight new full-length plays written.
Now we need your help because without an audience a play is fairly pointless. This is a great opportunity to see behind the curtain of theatre creation and see plays at their earliest, vulnerable, fragile point. Still not a final play, still trying to be the best plays that they can be.
Each play will be presented a rehearsed reading with a Q&A to follow. Tickets £5 per show. The schedule is as follows:
The schedule for PlayPen is
19th September 2017 7.45PM
In Mother’s Footsteps, Written by Roger Boyle, Directed by Denise Williams
17th October 2017 7.45PM
An as yet untitled play about two people in an underground bunker
Written by James Baker, Directed by Catrin Fflur Williams
14th November 2017 7.45PM
Fat Lotta Good
Written by Rachel McAdam, Directed by Patrick Kavanagh
5th December 2017 7.45PM
written by Catrin Fflur Huws, Directed by Sian Taylor
The following plays will be presented in 2018
23rd January 7.45PM 2018
written by Katharina Hone, Directed by James Baker
13th February 7.45PM 2018
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
PlayPen Get to the End is an open, inclusive and ongoing project and if you are interested in being involved in this or future PlayPen projects as either writer, director, actor or producer get in contact firstname.lastname@example.org