I found out about the plans for Manchester ADP in May last year when I first made contact with Diana Atkins. She had put a message on Facebook asking for information about prospective venues in the Manchester area.
By August, the first Scripts Aloud was launched at the King's Arms in Salford. Prior to that she and Hannah had established a small group of directors and actors who were prepared to give their time free in order to put on rehearsed readings of new writing. Several writers had submitted scripts for consideration.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the writers who had a play chosen for the first Scripts Aloud night on August Bank Holiday. An amazing opportunity not only to try out new work but to have immediate audience feedback. Envigorating and a little scary.
The audiences at Scripts Aloud have grown. Nearly every event packed out and it seems like there's an extra row of chairs are added to every performance.
I had been writing short stories, short plays and some poems for a few years.
What Scripts Aloud has given me is the incentive to write and develop my work. It doesn't mean that everything I write gets performed.
Each script is appraised before it is decided whether it is accepted for performance. The appraisers don't know the name of the writer. Appraisers try to give constructive feedback and suggestions for changes or improvements. Feedback is from more than one appraiser. Sometimes appraiser views are polarised - what we call the Marmite effect. This doesn't mean they don't get performed. One Scripts Aloud evening was entitled 'The Marmite Evening' and included four such plays to let the audience decide how they felt about them.
I've found appraisals generally helpful. Many of the comments probably told me what I knew (or should have known) already.
I've been lucky enough to have had four pieces performed at Scripts Aloud. It's been amazing and heartwarming to work with some great actors and directors who have allowed me to sit in and actively participate in their three hour rehearsal process that precedes the performance of each play. Their generosity of time and spirit epitomises the cooperative nature of Scripts Aloud.
I can't thank Diana, Hannah and Lisa enough for their drive, determination, enthusiasm and support. As a writer, it's provided me with a new lease of life. But more than that they've created and fostered an atmosphere of support and cooperation. I've made many new friends and contacts. Scripts Aloud goes from strength to strength, especially with the introdction of fuller length plays.
It's wonderful that a network that didn't exist last year has burgeoned so quickly. Long may it flourish.