BLOG: Script Space V… FOOTNOTES 1
Welcome to the first Script Space V blog! Make sure you keep logged in over the next few months - every couple of weeks we’ll be asking artists who’ve been involved with Script Space to contribute their words of wisdom, top theatre tips or simply their excitement and intrigue surrounding the process of unearthing great new writing, untold stories and unique voices for theatre.
This year the competition is jointly administrated with the Writers’ Forum @ TFT, and first off the mark is their coordinator David Lane. Now the competition can really get started, we asked him what it’s like to be faced with nearly 600 plays?
Watching the Script Space inbox gradually fill to bursting during the submission period is rather like watching a party slowly forming. It begins early, with a few enthusiastic individuals arriving almost the minute the invitations went out, who had their glad rags ready and waiting by the front door for any eventuality. As a party organiser this is quite nice. You remember that people were going to come after all, and that more will naturally follow.
Then there’s that weird slump for an hour or so afterwards where those same people wander around awkwardly by the twiglets in silence and you panic that nobody else is going to turn up, and the flurry of activity was all false hope. Fortunately, after another hour or so, numbers have bolstered; hearing about the activity from friends or online or somewhere down the theatrical grapevine, they turn up as well to have their voices heard.
By the mid-point a substantial group has formed, all vying and jostling for attention by the bar, and then suddenly a new stream hits, the music turns up and through those last couple of hours it’s like a riotous rave of never-ending revellers pouring through the virtual entrance hall. I never thought watching an inbox number ticking up before my very eyes was going to be this exhilarating. And then, in the cold light of dawn, you wake up bleary-eyed and realise you’ve got to sort all of it out somehow. Quick! Call some friends. Enlist at will. And so the reading process begins…
Fuzzy metaphors aside, there is a tangible energy in those last couple of days before deadline, as the final deluge of scripts floods in. The simple fact that there are so many writers out there with so many different things they want to share is heartening. You can’t help but feel excited that somewhere in that ever-expanding pile is somebody with something urgent to say; perhaps a voice we’ve never heard, or a way of thinking about theatre, or writing, or just life itself that compels us to stop what we’re doing, sit up and take note.
Our readers have been gathered from across the South West and beyond, comprising performers, directors, producers, dramaturgs and playwrights, but I hope they won’t mind me speaking for them as a whole when I suggest they’re united by one common desire: to find a new play or new writer – and in an ideal world, both in one script – that shows them something they’ve never seen before. Something which speaks to them about their lives today. And what’s great about Script Space is that this woolly definition I’m throwing out there (because let’s face it, ‘our lives today’ could mean anything from financial crisis to political wrangling to ecological collapse or just simple matters of the heart) is at the centre of the competition – we are interested in plays about anything, by anybody, for any audience, and in the ways that the Tobacco Factory Theatre and its myriad of fantastic artists can help support its development. Yes, of course we’re looking for writers who might know a thing or two about theatre already, but perhaps more importantly we’re looking for writers who’ve got something that speaks to us about the world in which we live – be it the absurdity, tragedy or beauty of it - with clarity, intention and heart. That could be a promenade site-specific farce about pig-farming with a cast of thirty, or a monologue in spotlight for an audience of one. I sincerely hope we see examples like these and more besides within the submissions for Script Space V (and if you think contemporary plays about pig-farming can’t be done, check out Richard Bean’s epic Harvest).
Throughout February the Script Space readers will be whittling down the mountain into a small stack, with that same energy and drive that accompanied the last couple of days of submission; and at the risk of using one final convoluted metaphor, we’re all looking for the Golden Ticket that sits beneath the wrapper, and unlocks a world unlike anything we’ve seen before. And that’s even if it is about pigs.