Friday, May 13, 2005

Maybe I Need To Learn How To Play Chess

Maybe I Need To Learn How To Play Chess

So you remember that playwriting competition that I didn't mention given the probability of laughing and pointing? No, of course you don't, I purposely slipped it in where you wouldn't. Before anyone gets overly excited, I didn't make the final cut, but, hang with me, there's more to this story yet than opportunities for pointing. Though I know that if you're anything like me, you'll love the pointing.

To get you up to speed, it was the West Yorkshire Playhouse's 'Summer Shorts' competition, which basically meant they wanted 20 minutes of a play 'in development'. From the entries five would be chosen to be worked on over a ten day period with director and actors and then performed as part of the Northern Exposure Festival thing that's happening at the end of May/Beginning of June.

Now I have The Four Right Chords in development, but I don't have twenty minutes of that, and anyway I'm not ready for that particular baby to see the light of day yet. So ignoring the fact that SSoB isn't really in development any more, I chopped out the most cohesive twenty minutes. Translate this as the twenty minutes that I think contain the best writing*. My two concessions to the competition? I changed 'tube' to 'bus' so that it wasn't obviously set in London** and removed a chunk of Shelley. Yes, for those who haven't seen the play, it has a chunk of Shelley in it. And I know that it's pretentious. I'm also aware that it seems a little pretentious when you've got the play as a hole, and the reasoning for the quoting of Shelley is much clearer. In a twenty minute extract where there is no clear reason for the quotation it was just going to look odd. Shelley, sadly, had to go. The overt Gatsby reference might have gone too but that would have required fiddling around with dialogue and therefore taken more then twenty seconds. So I made those two changes, stapled, printed and sent off.

As it turns out mini-SSoB made the longlist out of the 137 entries, and from the content of today's letter seems that it fell down in reaching the shortlist of five at the fact that the panel didn't think that it would yield up ten days work for director and actors. That'll teach me to send in the best bit. Though I can see where they're coming from. I'm not even sure that I'd want ten days worth of intensive fiddling with that section of SSoB. Fiddle with my rhythm at your peril.

But, I suspect you're wondering what the point of this is. Well, along with the 'thank you for your entry' letter they said they were interested in reading the full script/helping me complete it if it was at the outline stage. Which I'm rather pleased about, not least because the WYP have a relatively strict script submission procedure and getting them to read your unsolicited script, let alone comment on it, takes over six months. So SSoB might not have been entirely put to rest.

And, rather than Cherwell, Will might have swim naked in the river Aire. Sorry, Will.***

*Purely for those who have seen/read SSoB, this means Act 3 from the beginning until Kate leaves Harry.

**The WYP has a in house policy of new writing with a northern slant.

***That sentence was, of course, for comic effect. I don't want Will - albeit as a fictional character - to develop some odd disease. Plus now my brain's thinking about it, changing the locations to York for the uni stuff and Leeds for the present stuff would not only work, but would solve one of my major textual hiccoughs.****

****This really must be no fun for anyone who has no idea about SSoB, I apologise, but the problem I'm referring to is - since his exhibition in London has clearly been open a while when the play starts - why Harry hasn't been to see Jay before the night of his birthday.


Val said...

He's just as likely to catch a nasty disease if he swims in the ouse you know! 'Well done' - I'm excited for you that they want to read it all - and I think York would work well - they could dance in the fountain!

Nik said...

Ah well, I suppose we should all be thankful you don't intend to throw him off the bridge into the river in Oxford... xxx

Billygean said...

Could I read SSoB, apres mes devoirs?!

Gilly x

Corinne said...

Of course, Nik's got a copy which she can email you or hassle me to send you one!