High drama

It’s been a bit of a dramatic week – not that there have been any dramas in my life, really – more to with the stage, darlings.

It started on Monday, when I had a phone call from a man from Scotland. As part of the All England Theatre Festival, in which my play Cuffed did reasonably well, there is a playwriting competition, in which any of the original plays performed in the festival can be entered. There are quite a lot of original plays – all three of the plays in our quarter-final were original – and it’s actually open to the whole of the UK, not just England. I entered Cuffed for this, and it won. The Geoffrey Whitworth trophy, to be exact. The presentation, however, is in East Kilbride, and it’s when I’m on holiday. I guess I would have thought twice about going to East Kilbride just to say thank you anyway, but I’m not going to cancel my holiday. The Bloke has relatives up there, so we’re going to see if one of them can collect it for me. Meanwhile, of course, I am highly chuffed!

The rest of the day was spent in prep, mostly for a course I was to run this coming Tuesday, but then I had a call from the GDA (Gloucestershire Drama Association) asking if I would be one of the two adjudicators for their full-length play competition. Why me? I’ve never taught drama (except for little workshops here and there); I’ve never studied it; I know nothing! But I do think I know how adjudicators should go about their job, so after a very encouraging chat with the other adjudicator, I said yes. There I go, saying yes again. Oh dear.

The next day I found that the course I had worked on was cancelled, largely because the people who were to have it haven’t got their act together and have an exaggerated idea of their own importance. I can’t say more because it might incriminate me!

Tuesday was fun – a Writers in Prison conference in Bristol. It was great to see some of my friends again, and I always get loads of ideas I can use in my prison. I got the script for the prison play finished off, too.

In the evening on Tuesday we had the dress rehearsal for Cuffed and for the other TADS entry in the GDA one act play festival – Bed and Breakfast, a play written by another member of TADS. Both dress rehearsals went well, and we have a DVD of each of them now, thanks to The Bloke.

Wednesday was more prep and bits and pieces and emails, and my last session with the women’s group in Hereford. They are so, so good; they would like to have more sessions, but this all depends on Ledbury Poetry Festival’s funding, so who knows. I think all the women in the group have or have had some sort of problem – depression or anxiety – and to see them take part in the group and write such surprisingly good poems has been a delight. Now I have to put a book together, which will take, as they always do, ages, but it’s worth it so they can have a proper record of what they’ve done.

Oh – diving in the evening! This time in dry suits (although I got very wet inside mine). I didn’t like the drysuit much; it feels far more cumbersome than the wetsuit; but at least I didn’t get cold or cramp the whole time. Anyway, it’s pretty well impossible to dive in this country without drysuits, so I have to learn to use one.

And yet more fun on Thursday! A training day; this time I was a participant. The facilitator was Cliff Yates, who wrote a book on poetry in schools that has been my bible almost since I started working as a writer; he was as encouraging and full of useful ideas in person as in print, and everyone there had worthwhile contributions to make.

On Thursday evening, we went to see Brooklyn’s Finest. This was a gripping movie; just a touch too long, in my opinion, but with some fine performances.

Friday – yet more prep (I do so much prep!), and a bit of packing, and two sessions at the doctors’ surgery, which went well, as usual.

And in the evening Cuffed was on as part of the one act play festival. It was the best performance the cast has given; all the tech stuff went well; but the adjudication was a little strange. We thought that the play hit a personal nerve with the adjudicator, and there were things he didn’t like that really surprised us. But he was very complimentary about Ian, our leading man, which was very well deserved.

And yesterday. Work, work, work in the morning; hundreds and hundreds of emails! In the evening was the last night of the festival, with the final adjudication. TADS did amazingly well, but I’m not going to say much about it because the evening was really quite embarrassing, and I didn’t enjoy it much at all.

And that’s it. A week full of drama and fun, with some poetry thrown in, and only a bit of boring stuff. And a wet drysuit.

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