Nearly two months has flown by without a blog post, but I’m not concerned. During that time the novel has progressed by a very respectable additional 21,500 words and in the last two weeks I’ve accidentally written a short play.
Perhaps I should explain.
I may have mentioned in this blog, somewhere along the way, that I went to drama school and completed a masters in acting in my mid 40’s. It was one of those “I don’t want to wake up at 60 wondering if I could have” decisions that I haven’t once regretted (sure, there were some very challenging moments during those 14 months where I wasn’t sure if I could carry on, if I’d left it ‘too late’, if this was a wise idea, but I never had any regrets for following that path). Once qualified, I realised fairly swiftly that living in London and working as a jobbing actor did not suit me at all, so I took off and travelled and worked. Somewhere along the way, I rekindled my love for writing. Its portability, in particular, allows me to wander the world and still be able to tell people’s stories, a driving theme and passion behind my acting.
When I started writing, people naturally wanted to put these two aspects together. “You’re an actor”, they would say, “You should write plays.” But I didn’t want to write plays. Screenplays maybe, but not for the stage. Mainly because I didn’t think that I would make a very good playwright – my writing style is rather literal, a bit too linear; less suspension-of-reality, more once-upon-a-time.
A couple of weeks ago, I was allowing myself to be distracted by Facebook, instead of writing, when I spotted a post from @ActorAwareness about a scratch night for new writing. Actor Awareness is a campaign run by Tom Stocks, fighting to have more equality, diversity and working class actors in the industry. Every six weeks they host a night where six short (less than 15 minute) new plays are presented, each time featuring a different theme such as class, gender, sexuality, age and so on. Next month’s (on 15th August, in London) is entitled “Intergenerational”, targeting older actors. The plays must have a maximum of three actors, including a minimum of one actor who is 40+ (yes, folks, that’s ‘older’ in this game).
At 49, it is a subject close to my own heart.
So, I consulted my digital scrap book (I have a Scrivener project where I store snippets of ideas, inspirations and curiosities that may, at some point, turn into books or stories or screenplays or poems). And there, I rediscovered a piece I had outlined a while ago, with the vague idea of turning it into a screenplay or novel at some point. It met the criteria – in fact there are two characters in their 50’s – so I started to play with whether their story could be told in a short theatre play. And apparently it can.
Now I have a less-than (here’s hoping) 15 minute play, written and ready to submit ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.
You may be wondering why I would blog about this before I even know whether it’s going to be selected. Whilst I really hope it is (although it will mean lots to organise from a distance and waving good bye to much paid work in August!), truly, the fun of this project has been the experimenting, a chance to stretch my writing, put me outside of my comfort zone, the opportunity to collaborate with friends and the necessity of working to a tight timeframe to achieve the deadline. It’s a new writing scratch night and I don’t have the luxury of time to get lost in over-perfecting. So, it will be selected, or it won’t. Either way, it’s been an enjoyable project.
Now, it’s time to get back to Lucy and Harry’s story.
(p.s. I’ll let you know how the submission goes)
© itshelsbels July 2016