Enter stage left

Friday of this week, I’ll be at a script-writing workshop. I keep dabbling in scripts of some sort, for graphic novels and radio plays mainly (as for Script Frenzy 2011) but a lack of confidence (surely not!) prevents me from diving into a stage play. Living in West Yorkshire as I do, I’m within the sphere of influence of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and every so often I contemplate their script submission process then decide against it. There are rules, for writing plays, and I find that daunting. There are also other people involved – actors, directors – so that once a play has been released into the world, it takes on a life of its own, much more than any piece of fiction does.

Radio plays have their conventions too, and actors and directors who will interpret them, but having studied the Goon Show scripts at an early age and written radio plays (with Big Brother, friend T, or alone) many times since, they don’t scare me. Stage plays have a visual element, a constraint imposed by what it may be possible to suggest with low-budget scenery. I saw Educating Rita at Bradford Alhambra last week, and as Rita says in response to a question about the difficulties of staging Peer Gynt, if radio had been available to Ibsen, he’d have used that instead.

I did study a couple of plays in the run up to GCSE English Literature, and I probably see one at the theatre every few months, but I feel seriously out of my depth writing them. Which makes Friday, a day of exploring characters and dialogue in short plays (it says here), a healthy challenge. I don’t want to spread myself too thinly over short stories, novels, graphic novels, radio plays and stage plays, but I do think sometimes that particular stories demand particular ways of expressing them. If I have a story inside me that needs to come out as a stage play, how will I do it justice if I shy away from the form? So, armed with my silver notebook and a headful of concentration, I’ll see if I can expand my toolkit.

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