Monday, 21 March 2011

The Creation of a Play

Yes, I know it's been a long time since I've updated, and no, I'm not going to apologise for it. Down in the real world, shit's getting pretty damn serious, what with exam season and all. Anyway, even though I'm not going to apologise for it, I am going to make this an extra long, hopefully less than rambly post that will be both informative and entertaining. And you know why it will be informative and entertaining? Because these past few months have been very busy for me. A few weeks ago, I got my History results back from my exam in January, A, 3 marks off of an A*, but that's not the most important thing that's happened to me.

Oh no, something magnificent has happened to me over the past few months, and I can't remember whether I've mentioned it to you at all. I wrote a 30 minute play, the first play I've ever written, and entered it into the Chesterfield's Young Playwrights Competition. I got through to the Semi-Finals, and it was performed this weekend.

I should really describe to you the shock I had when I first found out that I had gotten through to the final, however, I think it would be better to describe the shock of the person who rang up to tell me that I was a Semi Finalist. She called up whilst I was in school, and my dad answered the phone. My dad knows that anyone who knows me should realise that I'm in school at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and so said down the phone, cautiously, that I was in school.

An awkward silence.

I think my dad told me that the next thing she said down the phone was 'How old is she?', to which her replied '15'.

Another awkward silence.


Anyway, I called her up when I got home after screaming a few times in excitement, and things progressed from there. No, it was the past few months where things really got hectic. As some of you may or may not have seen, the Derbyshire Times posted an article about the competition a week before the plays were performed, and it was only then that I realised the sheer enormity of my achievement. I was against Drama Teachers, Playwrights of 30 years, people with years of experience far beyond my own.

And what about the actors hmm? I met them all the man who played Seth, Darren Johnson (not the Darren Johnson on James LaBrie's Facebook friend list), has had a massive role in the English Soap Coronation Street, where he played PC Henshaw, and also had roles in 'Where the Heart is', 'Emmerdale', and 'The Royal'; A real actor, playing one of my characters! Corinne Handforth, with equally impressive credits, Norman Mills, and amateur actress Jayne Dent all starred in my play!

But it's all well and good telling you about who was in the play and their credits...But what about the subject matter of the play? Schizophrenia. Inspired by Dream Theater's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence with it's message of tolerance and the interpretation of the subject matter. If they can approach such a subject artistically, why can't I? I was lacking inspiration when I found out about the competition, and as I always do when I lack inspiration, I whacked on some Dream Theater. SDOIT came on, and suddenly, I knew what I wanted to write about. Mental Illness. Which one? After some research, I decided that Schizophrenia would be the greatest to represent; After all, how many people confuse Schizophrenia with Multiple Personality Disorder?

The play was minimalist, no set, no props, just hand gestures and mime. The illness, the voices inside the protagonist's head were personified in the character of Seth. The story was told through her eyes, through which she saw her parents as monsters who cared more for their image than their daughter.

I was told I had potential, when the play was through I heard people whispering about the play all around, 'I can't believe she's only 16', 'That's such a mature topic', 'She'll go far.' Overall, I came second, one vote behind the person who came in first.

It was the first play that I wrote. I came second in a playwriting competition by one vote. I'm entering next year, and I already have my concept down. So let me leave you with the opening Monologue from my first piece of work, Monsters.

'Can you remember those stories your parents told you? The boogey-man and the bed bugs? Can you remember that they’d check under your bed, just so you could sleep with the light off? Those monsters were never real, Leah. The ones who slept in the room next to you, the ones with the eager eyes and bright lights…Maybe they were…'

 Me with Darren Johnson and Corinne Handforth, aka Seth and Mary

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