This morning, in the wake of our Lowry success, we have the pleasure of posting up a blog from one of last night's writers - Joe Osborne of 'Spring Forward Fall Back'. The feedback from Joe's work last night was truly phenomenal and it is a piece we cannot wait to see in its next incarnation.
Apologies that Joe's blog is written before the event - but we hope you enjoy getting in the mind space of this writer, 24-hours before the event.
Thank you again Joe for your hard work, incredible talent and generous writing. Here's to the future!
Here I am, just 24 hours away from a rehearsed reading of part of my play, Spring Forward Fall Back, which now has three quarters of its scenes and a plot outline to hang them on. As I sat watching rehearsal today, I had to pinch myself as the group gave collective attention to my script. The actors are now speaking words which once sprang from a blurred conversation in my head. There’s a director poring over phrases and a stage direction taken from a fleeting family memory, and a photographer composing an angle between two characters that might well have been the start of it all.
It’s a memorable feeling - letting go of your creation and handing it on to others to scratch, shape and inhabit. In a way, the play is no longer yours, like a child leaving home, exposed to the wider world, and with only your name stamped upon it. But I would have it no other way. How wonderful to see an actor express one of your silences, provoking laughter in the process, or hear a director’s note that captures the subtext of half a page you once wrestled over. It’s the payoff for the hard slog of play writing - the collaboration, the coming together of creative minds, and the boost it provides for the next phase. You learn to let go. If that feels too painful, then give up on the play and turn it into a novel or short story instead.
I’m so grateful for the support of Hannah, Diana and all at Manchester ADP in getting the play this far. I’ve already written short scenes up to 15 minutes and a short play. But pushing on, moulding a story, writing more scenes and rewriting those you thought were completed, is a hard business. Having the group show faith in your work, and then shine a light on it with the help of actors, directors, photographers and promoters, all giving their help for free, is a gift you can’t put a value on. I’ve supported other writers at ADP from my seat, with messages of support and as an actor, and there is a mutual desire to support one another and keep the writing to the fore. The play after all, is the thing.
I’m ready for the best part now, the sharing with an audience. Of course, I’m nervous… watching your work from a seat is far more exposing than walking onto a stage as an actor. If you’ve written a heartfelt play, then your memories, your sensibilities, in some ways your soul, are all on show. There is nowhere to hide. But when there’s spontaneous laughter, a shared intensity of listening, or a collective in-breath of surprise, then you know that your words have worked, in the way that only play writing can.
I hope there’s some of that tomorrow and that Scripts Aloud will make even more noise in future.
Bank Holiday Party Time
by David Chriscole
Manchester ADP 1st Anniversary Bash
There are some events in a calendar that really can’t (or shouldn’t) be ignored. If you miss it, it’ll never happen again, and in years to come you’ll be kicking yourself. This was true of the 1st anniversary bash for Manchester ADP on 29th August 2016, and despite suffering from an annoyingly painful throat, I wasn’t going to be stopped from attending!
As usual, we were gathered at The Kings Arms, Salford to celebrate an incredible year. Lisa Connor, owner of The Kings Arms, very kindly laid on some free wine for us too, which went down a treat.
Pity that Lisa could not join in the fun however, but she is just about to give birth, so was taking some rest.
The bar staff of course were their usual friendly and devoted selves, looking after the throng of bodies, keeping us all well watered.
On the whole, I think we took over the entire building. Having set up tables in the bar for the bring-and-share buffet (a genius idea by the way), we quickly overflowed to the Snug and beer garden.
Not only this, the seating had been removed from the theatre
upstairs for some announcements, speeches and special
presentations from ADP. I don’t know about anyone else,
but it felt rather eerie in the theatre with no seats, how odd it looked.
MC's Hannah Ellis and Diana Atkins
It’s All About The Numbers
Amongst the announcements, we learned that over the course of the year Manchester ADP has racked up some pretty amazing statistics:
18 shows, 57 new scripts, 35
writers, 99 actors and 14
Not only this, but there were still 47 scripts waiting to be performed and a whopping 109 actors who have yet to appear on stage. Incredible.
The Shape Of Things To Come
We were also privy to a sneaky little taster of ADP’s next development, simply going under the banner (or a working title) of:
Marie Crook, a BBC director, has come on board with the project, and ADP has the support of Salford University's studios and students too. Not much in the way of detail as it’s still a work in progress, but this will be a ‘soft-launch’ programme, so keep your ears to the speaker to learn more in the coming months.
The Awards Ceremony Part 1
We saw some fun awards handed out to pay tribute to various members of ADP, for all sorts of reasons (please excuse if the titles aren't 100% accurate).
David Chriscole receiving an ADP award.
(Image: Sophie Coward)
Home-made brownies made by Hannah Ellis, and a certificate were handed out for these genuinely difficult to get but tongue in cheek awards.
• Absolute Legend - Lisa Connor
• Most Tireless Appraiser - Gray Littlewood
• Most Loyal Audience Member & Hard Working Appraiser - Dave Jones
• Best Photographer In The Whole Wide World - Mark Russell
• Volunteer Award - Laura Duncalf
• Up And Coming Volunteer - Naomi Albans
• FOH/Bouncer You Don't Mess With - Andrew Ruddy
• Most Loyal Audience Member & Supportive Human Being - David Chriscole
Gracious thanks were also given to Tech Guru Andrew Glassford in his absence, for his hard work and dedication to Manchester ADP.
Awards Ceremony Part 2
No awards ceremony would be complete without some form of prize-giving, other than gorgeous brownies of course.
To mark the next set of awards Manchester ADP were sponsored by Casting Networks UK, who have very kindly given ‘pro’ subscriptions for their platform to each of the actors below.
Many congratulations to everyone!
• The Actor Team Award (“Doe” script R&D weekend, dir. Craig Sanders) - Emily Grogan, Kizzy Watson, Mary Hooton, Hilly Barber, Louise Wilson and Rianna Windust.
• The Most Exploited Actor Award - Joel Parry
• Most Useful Actor To Know & All Round Legend - Sophie Coward
• Most Supportive Actor & Absolute Legend - Sean Chriscole
The night before our bash I decided that I’d try my hand at a little poetry to add to the 1st birthday card I was taking along. Well I’m certainly not going to win any awards for this, but it was fun having this read out to everyone. Here it is once again for those that missed it.
THANK YOU ADP
by David Chriscole © 2016
Just when I thought, the world was shite
Along came three angels, and put me right
Diana flew from London's glitter, putting Manc-land in its place to shiver
Hannah comes from land down-under, she stops our meetings from making blunder
Lisa gives us room to breathe, why on earth would we want to leave
Without these girls the friends we see, we'd probably never get to see
We bow as-well to those that bring, the doors, the light AND Twitter!
Unsung heroes also work, to bring delights unto our stage
To those unseen we give our thanks, and blessing on you always
So now we stand and raise our glass, and here we do our cheering
ONE YEAR TODAY! you've done the deed, and killed off any doubters
Night Off For Resident Photographer
Usually at Manchester ADP events, our resident photographer Mark Russell is to be seen lurking and snapping away, capturing some pretty awesome candid shots.
On this night however, Mark was given the night off, and the task of capturing the atmosphere fell to ADP’s very own Social Media butterfly, Sophie Coward.
What a super job she’s done too. Here are a few of my favourites, and you’ll find more over on the Unofficial Sophie Facebook Page.
The first Scripts Aloud was just 3 weeks after the birth of my son last year.
I’d submitted my details whilst heavily pregnant and, as I sometimes do, I had a gut feeling I was going to be asked to take part in the first one, scheduled for just 4 weeks after my due date. As it was, the bubs was a week late and so it was 3 weeks after having my son, I found myself sat on stage at The Kings Arms, opening the first ADP Manchester with a stunning script from the pen of Kevin McMahon, one of the many talented writers ADP has attracted. When Diana emailed me the script, there was no chance I was going to let it pass me by; it was A Song Unsung, a beaut of a monologue about the Easter Uprising.
I forget where I’d heard about ADP but had happened upon the FB group and it was exactly what I was looking for. I’d had a couple of tough years career-wise and, although I didn’t realise it at the time, had become rather worn down by the industry. As a result, I’d taken some time out to study law whilst pregnant. Studying something entirely different and intellectually rigorous gave me back the self-esteem which had been eroded and before I’d even taken my exams I knew that I wanted to get back to acting and to meet fellow lovers of theatre and people that I might want to work in the future: PING! There it was, ADP in all its glory!
ADP has become so much more than just a network though: it’s a huge, buzzing community of a kind that I’ve never before experienced; it’s a wealth of extraordinary talent and an overflowing and bottomless pot of positivity and creativity. I’ve met people as passionate and dedicated about theatre as I am, it’s given me friends and inspiration and all in less than a year! The success of Scripts Aloud and ADP Manchester has inspired me to set up Abooo Theatre, a company dedicated to making shows about parenting, made with parents who are professional performers and made for parents to come and watch with their babies. It’s early days yet and we’re still on our way to achieving the kind of success Diana and Hannah have but I am so grateful to them for all that Scripts Aloud/ADP has meant for me and for the Manchester theatre scene.
My son celebrates his 1st birthday shortly and I am so thrilled and pleased for Diana and Hannah and what they have to celebrate on Scripts Aloud’s 1st birthday. My only regret? That I won’t be there to help them celebrate –yep, I’ll be on a family holiday! Here’s to many more years of success, innovation, creativity and positivity: to Scripts Aloud!
If you want to check out what Abooo’s all about, here’s where we are www.aboootheatre.com
We love you Clare! One of the most valuable members of the ADP family!
I think you have to fully enter into the spirit of things, whatever you do. So when the opportunity arose to put on a short play at Manchester ADP’s Scripts Aloud, I put forward a new piece that had only ever existed in my mind and on paper, never spoken out loud. It’s often said that a play cannot exist without an audience, and that was really brought home here.
I was blessed with a talented director, Esther Dix, who understood exactly what I wanted to say, and two fantastic actors, Paida Mutonono and Gavin Shankland, who took the characters I had written and made them three dimensional. There’s only so much you can write into a ten minute play, but I find it endlessly fascinating how much character they could find. They took my play without any changes and made it come alive. The three hours of rehearsals went much too quickly.
There’s something about watching your own work in the midst of the audience; you can feel what’s working and what’s not working. Slightly scary at the time, but looking back it was a rewarding experience. What was most interesting was the opportunity for audience questions; it gave a real insight into how those watching had seen the play. Because it’s not what you write that matters, it’s how your words are interpreted.
It was clear from audience feedback that what I had seen in my head wasn’t always the same as what the audience were seeing. My play was about male identity using gambling to boost self esteem; many in the audience saw the play as being about gambling addiction. I’m not sure the subtle distinction could have come out in any other forum. It’s given me some strong pointers on how to rewrite what I have, and how to take the play forward.
ADP’s Scripts Aloud night gives the writer a unique chance to see how an early stage work performs in front of a knowledgeable audience. For the writer it’s a chance to clearly understand what works and how to further develop the play. For the audience it’s a chance to engage in the creative process. And it all carries on into the bar afterwards. It’s been a fantastic experience.
I had no expectations at all when I first submitted a piece of writing to Manchester ADP. I’ve had experience with these kind of things in the past and as general rule, you send a piece of writing off, and that’s pretty much the end of it. Most of these things start out with good intentions. But good intentions can only get you so far. Good intentions are pretty worthless without some professional commitment to turn them into something more.
It was something of a surprise then to find that not only was my first submission ‘Caminada’ acknowledged pretty much straight away, it was read, given feedback and chosen for the inaugural night of short plays.
Since then I’ve had four of my short pieces performed as well as one full length play, The Script. I have at least two more submissions that have been accepted and are in the pipeline and I’m probably going to submit another full length play any time now.
I remember when ADP first started I said to Diana that one day she would make me famous. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to appear on Andrew “Top Techie” Glassford’s excellent podcast and be interviewed about my writing and Scripts Aloud on local radio station, All FM. I’ve also had the aforementioned The Script long listed by the BBC and have been approached by a potential producer. On top of all that I am also staring into the dark, cavernous abyss that is the Arts Council of England grant application process, where all artistic hopes and dreams go to die and remain forever buried. If the BBC is the silver lining, the ACE is definitely the bleak and unremittingly grey cloud. Of course, none of this constitutes anything like being famous but it gets me out of the flat and talking to people, which is a start. It also gives me the impetus to just sit down an write. ADP is in a constant battle with my own sloth and indolence. Right now, ADP is winning.
Writing is meaningless until it finds an audience. Any piece of work is just an unwanted foetus that gestates in a draw or on a hard drive until somebody else decides to drag it kicking and screaming into the harsh light of day. Diana, Hannah and Lisa are the midwives. Some of the pieces I’ve had performed I’m quite proud of, some are unloved brats I would happily see taken into care, and some of them I think might grow up one day and turn out brighter than I ever hoped they could be. (I’m going to stop with this birth/child analogy now because even I’m getting bored with it.)
Initially, I didn’t care much for the Q&A after the performance. I thought it unnecessary and a waste of time for the writer. But over time I’ve come to look forward to it. Being a little argumentative and belligerent by nature I enjoy the challenge of the questions and I find the prospect of live criticism gives my writing a little more of an edge. I always believe in writing to the smartest person in the room and there are some very smart people indeed in the ADP audience.
Same with turning up for rehearsals. At first, I didn’t mind popping my head in and saying hello for a few minutes, and prior to ADP I’d found getting involved in rehearsals tended to suck what little joy I have in me away. I positively hate the word ‘creative’ and tend to run a mile when someone mentions collaboration but thanks to ADP I’m now warming to it. Watching the process of directing is endlessly fascinating and I’m happy to just sit and watch what some truly great directors and actors can do moulding and shaping a piece of work.
But that’s the thing - writing something is easy. It really is. All you need is a half-arsed idea and access to a keyboard, and who doesn’t have that? Writing something that actors and directors will have some faith in, and interpret it and represent it the best they can, not because it’s a bit of a job that might look good on their CV, but because it’s something they think is genuinely good, is far more difficult. Because a writer can only get to his audience by using the actors and directors as a conduit. The investment of faith has to be mutual. Without them the writer is impotent (I’m back on that baby/birth analogy again, aren’t I?)
One thing I didn’t expect when I got involved ADP is the debates that spill over into the bar afterwards and sometimes this is my favourite part of the night. Subjects such as: does theatre have a responsibility to be be political? Does theatre do enough to reach out to the working class? and is theatre still valid as a viable art form?
Long may those arguments continue and long may they remain unresolved.
Writers have a responsibility. More than anything they have a responsibility to tell an audience something they don’t know and not to treat them like fools. Or to tell them something they thought they knew but tell them in a way they’ve never thought of before. Or just to make them smile. They have a responsibility to let the audience go home and think it was a fiver well spent on something they couldn’t get from anywhere else.
All writers think that everything they write drips with the honeyed wisdom of the ages and only they are in possession of the keys to the kingdom of all knowledge. But that’s not true. The process of writing may be a solitary business, and so it should be, but it’s all for nothing unless a group of people are willing to take a chance on them and give them an opportunity to get whatever it is they want to say out there. ADP are the forceps that pull the ….. (Oh, God, I’m doing it again…..)
Best I just finish by saying this - Everyone at Manchester ADP does everything they do the best they possibly can. And they are very, very good at it.
Anyway, that’’l do for now, I have to get off. I have a half-arsed idea and new batteries in my keyboard.
See you next time.
*Photos credited to Mark Russell. Above - Robert Pegg and Esther Dix working on 'The Script'. Below - Zoe Iqbal.