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FanExpo Vancouver 2017

It’s that time of year again, when fans of tv, film and comics come together in Vancouver to celebrate the things they love. We’d booked tickets for the Sunday of the three day event, which turned out to be a good thing because Middle Weasel’s film group were shooting a short film in our house and it turned out to be a longer and more…crowded… process than we expected.

I left Mrs Dim wrangling the dogs, and Middle Weasel wrangling the crew, and I took Tiny Weasel, Eldest Weasel and three others to Fan Expo.

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One of my charges wasn’t in costume, so our team for the day was a Dalek Interp, Paddington, and Ruby and Yang. I was dressed as Clark Kent, but seriously, that did not warrant a photograph.

Walking the floor when I wasn’t in costume was one thing. Wearing the Shakespearean Vader costume last years was a very different experience. What was really funny was walking the hall behind Ruby and Yang because EVERYONE loved them.*

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This was my view for most of the day: Grinning as other people went nuts over the props and costumes and asked for pictures.

But I didn’t spend the whole time photographing photography. There were so many cosplayers to photograph instead…

The range of costumes is always impressive, but it’s funny how certain looks come and go. A couple of years ago you couldn’t move for Sailor Moons and Deadpools. Elsa and Ana were big hits too. This year I only saw a couple of Elsas and Anas, and only the one Deadpool:

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Maybe he only came because Elmo wanted him to?

And I can tell I am getting old, because the number of truly excellent costumes of people I cannot recognise is only increasing. Tiny Weasel showed me over twenty photographs she had taken and excitedly identified them. I was none the wiser. These following pictures are mostly people I DID recognise. Mostly.

As always, I admired the immaculate uniforms and gear of the 501st troops. They walked the floors, posing for photos and being friendly and accessible – have you any idea how weird it is hearing a stormtrooper wishing someone a good day?

It was a great day, not least because it was Ruby’s first experience of a Con and she was a hit. It was great to see how well she handled the requests for photos and the compliments on her costume and the scythe she carried without complaint throughout.

Already looking forward to next year.

 

 

*I had not heard of RWBY before today. I still have no plans to watch it, but it’s clear lots of other people do.

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The Buzz from Lazy Bee Scripts October 2017

Here’s the latest newsletter from my publisher, Lazy Bee Scripts. You may notice a few live links in it because TLC Creative have finally published our version of Sleeping Beauty! Our first pantomime in years.

Halloween is out of the way, time for the next dramatic challenge.  If you haven’t yet sorted out a festive play for December, then there’s still time.
Many Christmas shows involve large casts of children.  This often involves the need to keep them quiet and entertained backstage.  That was part of the thinking behind the card game ‘Dame of Thrones’ from TLC Creative (put together with pantomime in mind).
We have plenty of festive plays, both religious and secular (mainly focused on Christmas, but other festivals do get a look-in.)  By the way, you can separate out the religious from the secular (if you are looking specifically for one or the other) using the “Religious and Moral Plays” filter in our search engine.
Amongst our new scripts, the contribution to the season comes in the form of a new adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (and also a revision of a previously-published version).  As usual, you can find all the new scripts via the “what’s new” link from the Lazy Bee Scripts home page.  Talking of which…
Sketches, Skits and Short Plays

‘Sketch’ tends to be used in British English for a short comedy piece, whereas US English tends towards ‘skit’.  I take a slightly different view.  I think that a skit treats a known theme with an element of parody.  By my definition, here we have two short plays, a sketch and a skit.  (You can make up your own mind.)

  • In Oh Frabjous Day (1M, 1F) from Maeve Edwards, Mark finds out he has a daughter he never knew about, and who could be the bone marrow donor he needs.  It’s a bit of a weepie.
  • For ancient tales of a Biblical bent, check out Ian Sharrock’s David and Goliath (2M, 1F), in which a Philistine soldier and serving girl witness the famous showdown.
  • Robert Scott’s Just Good Friends (2M, 1F) is an easy to stage relationship comedy.  After Jane’s latest break-up, Tim is waiting to console her.  But is this his chance to step out of the friendzone?
  • The Colonel’s Wife (2M) by Bob Hammond features an army officer who’s been caught with, well, the colonel’s wife.  His confession gets a very different reaction from what he expects.

Plays for Schools and Youth Theatre

In the September edition of The Buzz, I mentioned that we had published several new plays with Greek themes.  That trend seems to be continuing slightly…

  • If you want to know all about Greek tragedy but never managed to finish the Iliad (it is a big book, and the text is really small), you need Nicholas Richards’ A Brief Guide To Greek Tragedy (6 Either).
  • Adventures in Wonderland (35 roles, a minimum of 20 actors with doubling, of whom at least Alice is female) is a faithful Lewis Carroll adaptation from Bob Yelland, and an ideal choice for large youth theatre productions.

Musicals and Musical Plays

We had previously published Nicholas Richards’ piece as a play (and it could still be performed as such), but, in our view, it works better as a musical piece.  (Generally aimed at secondary school ages.)

  • Nicholas Richards’ Hunting Death (5M, 3 Either) is a short musical retelling of the Pardoner’s Tale from the Canterbury Tales, and can also be performed as a verse play without the music.

One-Act Plays

Previous winners include Damian Trasler, Richard James, Geoff Bamber and Cheryl Barrett.  This time, Robert Scott seems out to get the largest number of mentions in this newsletter.  But never mind the quantity, we are very enthusiastic about the quality of his writing, as are audiences around the world.

  • Robert Scott wins our award for most prolific author of the month (and his plays are good as well as numerous!), bringing us The Babbling Brookes, a trilogy following one family:
    Rags to Richie (3M, 3F, 2 Either) introduces us to Richie Brookes, who’s so much of a liability that his wife won’t leave him alone without a responsible adult.
    Next up is Ed and Breakfast (3M, 2F, 2 Either), in which belligerent son Ed is at loggerheads with mum Lynda.
    And in Keep Calm and Kerry-Ann (3M, 3F), Grandad Joseph shows up, sending the family into more of a spin than usual.
    The three plays work as stand-alone pieces, but they could also be played in one evening as a trilogy.
  • Serious stuff in Warm Crayons (2M, 3F) by Ashley Harris, in which a schoolteacher is accused of a vile abusive act.  Is he innocent, or has he been hiding his deeds all along?
  • For something lighter, try Richard Charles’s Dead Loss (4M, 2F).  Aging rock star Trevor Loss has debts to pay off and the police after him; the drastic measures he resorts to make this a thrilling comedy.
  • Nickers (1M, 4 Either) by Robert Scott – yes, him again – is not about smalls, but a gang of thieves who all have their sights set on a priceless diamond…
  • Another classic is adapted – and abridged – in Martin Prest’s A Christmas Carol In 60 Minutes Or Less! (1M, and up to 28 others).  We should probably also credit Dickens for this one.  It’s an unusual treatment in that Martin wrote it as a one-man show, but with 29 roles it could also be played by a larger cast.  We published it some time ago, but Martin has tweaked it based on experience of a recent production.
  • Welcome Home (2M, 1F) is an original drama from Roger Lee.  Jimmy is finally out of prison after twenty years and returns to a hostile reception from his son.
  • How else would we end this section but with another Robert Scott play?  Jim Jam (2M, 1F) is about the familiar situation of being stuck in a traffic jam… and your kid needing the loo.

Pantomimes

There are four broad flavours of pantomime: the core folk tales (Cinderella, Aladdin, etc.), adaptations of other stories, amalgams of multiple stories and completely original stories. (Richard Coleman thinks we should have a section of the Lazy Bee Scripts web site just for the third type, although I suspect that is mainly because he has written several in that vein.) We have so many versions of the core stories that we are cutting down on new publications – picking out just the truly exceptional.  Hence on this occasion that category is represented just by TLC Creative’s adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, whereas Sharon Hulm raises her flag in the original stories category.

  • Double Trouble (4M, 5F, 8 Either), an original panto by Sharon Hulm, follows a pair of twin Princes.  A true love’s kiss will release them from a curse, but can those true loves recognise which prince is which?
  • And then we have TLC Creative’s take on Sleeping Beauty (4M, 7F, 8 Either).  It’s a classic tale, here littered with extra doses of malicious fairies and outright silliness.

Full-Length Plays

Another very varied selection of full-length plays, with a couple of adaptations and three original pieces together touching on comedy, drama, history and thriller.

  • Another take on A Christmas Carol – well, the festive season is fast approaching – comes courtesy of Michael Morton, whose full-length version (37 roles, with a minimum of 3M, 3F, and eight of Either with a lot of doubling) is a faithful adaptation of the Dickens classic.
  • End of the Ban (6M, 3F) by Anne Graham is a comedy set in 1980s Nottinghamshire.  Miner Les is already drifting apart from his family – and then he gets trapped down the mine shaft.
  • Richard Hills has adapted Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women (4M, 7F).  With their father away in the American Civil War, four sisters must support the household as they grow up.
  • In Death’s Desire (3M, 4F) by Robert Scott, therapist Lawrence has a worrying new patient who confesses to murder… and who knows a surprising amount about Lawrence’s fiancée.
  • Two families are brought together by the engagement of their children in David Allan’s Happy Families.  They immediately warm to each other, never get into any conflicts, and none of them hold any secrets.  Just kidding.  (4M, 5F)

Murder Mysteries

There is a variety of ways of executing dinner theatre murder mysteries.  Different options will suit different theatre companies. Our latest two both have scripted dialogue, but Geoff Fulford’s piece requires the cast (working from character briefs) to be interrogated by the audience, whereas Eileen Clark wants the audience to decide whodunnit purely on the basis of what they have seen on the stage.

  • Just as a country hotel is about to close for refurbishment, one of the last guests to leave is found dead.  The audience must figure out whodunnit in Eileen Clark’s Murder at Morpeth Manor (3M, 4F, 1 Either).
  • In Some Anniversary! (3M, 5F, 1 Either) by Geoff Fulford, Clark and Barbara Seville are celebrating thirty years of marriage – but several guests hold grudges against Clark, who won’t make it to thirty-one.

Theatrical Paraphernalia

When we publish musical pieces, we try to offer recordings (at least backing tracks) as an optional extra.  Sometimes we add things at a later date…

  • For the new version of Sleeping Beauty by TLC Creative, there are high-quality backing tracks (familiar music, new lyrics) created by Sound-Board.com
  • The CD for Nicholas Richards’ musical version of Hunting Death has a complete (25 minute) backing track/underscore and also a vocal demo of the whole piece.
  • At a customer request, we’ve made available MP3 downloads for the backing tracks and vocal demos for Greece – The Musical by Sue Gordon as an alternative to the CDs.

If you want more frequent updates, then follow us on Facebook or Twitter (where we announce every new publication); more details on the contact page of the web site.

Stuart Ardern
Lazy Bee Scripts

The Female Lead

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Cagney and Lacey ran from 1982 to 1988. According to Wikipedia, “For six consecutive years, one of the two lead actresses won the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama (four wins for Daly, two for Gless), a winning streak unmatched in any major category by a show.”

Having seen the outrage and fiery passion ignited by the Wonder Woman movie, I found it amazing to consider the success of Cagney and Lacey, which was, obviously, back in the “bad old days”. It’s surely no coincidence that the success of the show didn’t spawn dozens of similar shows with two female leads. In fact, the closest I can think of is the TV show “Scott and Bailey”, which did not begin until 2011, 23 years after Cagney and Lacey ended. When you see the proliferation of similar shows that burst onto the screen when the originals are proven successes – Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Wire – it’s surely only entrenched patriarchy that prevented a flood of female-lead cop shows.

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What others can we point to? There’s the excellent “Prime Suspect” that places Helen Mirren in command, fighting the prejudice of her fellow officers as much as she tries to unravel the crimes. Again, it won awards, garnered mountains of praise, ran for seven seasons and produced…What? There seem to be few imitators or successors.

When I started out to write a police procedural for the stage, I wanted to have a female lead. Originally she was going to be channeling advice from a fictional P.I. , but I soon realised that I wanted her to be working on her own, solving things herself. The second lead character shouldered her way into the spotlight a little unexpectedly. After she appeared, I went back and re-wrote the beginning, so that she – Maylee – could be a balance for Alice, the detective.

With all that has come to light in the past two weeks – Harvey Weinstein and the morass of sexual predation in Hollywood and elsewhere – it feels less appropriate than ever for me to be writing a play about the struggles of two women. White, middle class, middle-aged men have had more than their fair share of the spotlight these last few hundred years. I have no doubt there are women out there who could write a more personal, more real account of Maylee and Alice than I ever could. Odds are, there’s a better story than mine already published.

But here’s the thing: I’m a writer. I have an idea, and I have to write it. It might take months, or years, or it might be done in a day, but they turn up and get written down. I can choose which ones get my time and attention, but I can’t choose which ideas occur to me. If I could, I would write the things that follow the current market, whatever they are.

Writing is a profession that is full of people with Imposter Syndrome. Writers mistrust their own opinion of their work, they doubt themselves and they second-guess reactions to what they write. I already spend enough time doubting that what I produce is worthwhile, or readable. Since I don’t intend any disrespect or denigration to women, I don’t fear criticism for what I’m writing. As I said above, there are people who could write these things better than I could, so I would welcome any constructive criticisms. I’ll continue to write what it occurs to me to write, and I’ll listen to any objections that anyone has to offer.

You can read the full text of “Alice and the Cold Case” here. Many of my other plays contain strong female characters. You could try readingThe Kitchen Skirmishes“, orThe Red Balloon“, orDigging up Edwin Plant“. There’s alsoA Time for Farewells“, andLove in a Time of Zombies“.

Back to the Bard

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One of our rituals for rounding off the Summer Holidays is a visit to Bard on the Beach. Sometimes we get to take visitors along with us, and one memorable year we tried to go on Sunday, only to discover we’d bought tickets for the Saturday and missed it completely.

This year it was just the five of us, and we were off to see one of our favourite plays, ‘Much Ado About Nothing.” Why is it such a favourite in the Trasler household? Well, for Mrs Dim and me, it’s been a frequent theatre staple. She took my to see it for my 21st birthday – a trip to London together to see Mark Rylance and Janet McTeer in the starring roles. We introduced the weasels to it by showing them Kenneth Branagh’s beautiful movie version, and we watch it again and again – it’s great in winter, when you can almost feel the heat of the sun from the tv….

They didn’t take to Joss Whedon’s version, bang up to date and set in LA, but the Bard troupe had opted for 1950’s Italian cinema. They made some subtle changes to the dialogue, changing the Prince into a Director and the soldiers into actors, but it worked out really well. The comedy timing was amazing, and the  heavier parts of the plot really caught the audience. As always, I felt sorry for Claudio, not because he’s duped so easily, but because his entire character comes across as a bit of a wet hen. This is no fault of the actor portraying him, who did a cracking job (tears in his eyes as he denounced Hero) but because that’s the way he’s written.

We didn’t mind the rain coming down – we need it here, after all – and it was a happy way to spend a cold afternoon in September.

Thank you for another great performance, Bard on the Beach. We’ll see you next year.

Books I’ve read this month Aug/Sept 17

Summer in BC is great for reading, especially those lazy days when you can’t go outside because of all the smoke from the rest of the country being on fire.

In the car I’ve been listening to John Scalzi’s “Agent to the Stars” . It’s light and fun, but has a good message tucked away inside. Like several of Scalzi’s audio books, it’s narrated by Wil Wheaton, and I think this is a good thing. The story is about a movie agent who is contacted by aliens. They’re the traditional green blobs who are worried that their appearance might prejudice the Earth against them, so they want an agent to work on their image problem.

Since it’s a fun book, I listened to it way too fast, and now I’m neck-deep in “Lords and Ladies” by Terry Pratchett. It’s the third in the “Witches” series from the Discworld, but it pulls in some familiar faces from Ankh Morpork in the shape of Archchancellor Ridcully, Ponder Stibbons, the Librarian and the Bursar. If you haven’t read the Witches series, start with “Wyrd Sisters”, and don’t forget to tell your friends about them.

Outside of the audio world, actual physical books have been read too. I started with “The Magpie Murders“, even though it was written by Anthony Horowitz. I have an unreasonable dislike for him, thanks to a radio interview I heard a long time ago. Maybe he’s changed since then, maybe not, but this book is very good. For one thing, it’s a book about a book, and you get to read the book that the book is about, which is great. Maybe I should explain.

The story is told by a literary agent or editor (I forget which). She’s taken delivery of the latest – and last – in a series about a Poirot-style detective, and she’s planning to read the whole thing through. but the last chapter is missing. While she hunts for the missing chapter, she discovers the author is dead – probably suicide, but maybe not. And there are disturbing parallels between his life and the fictional village he wrote of in his series. To find out the truth, she has to solve the murder in the book and in real life.

I’m glad I read this book – now, if I ever meet Mr Horowitz in person, I’ll have something nice to say to him.

Having enjoyed one mystery, I went straight on to another. This one was “The Zig Zag Girl” by Elly Griffiths. It’s based on the real-world idea of magicians being used in the Second World War to confuse the enemy using stage magic principles. Now, years after the war, it looks like someone is targeting the “Magic Men” and killing them off. Since one of them is a policeman, it’s his job to find the others and try and solve the murders before he falls victim too. This is the first of a series, and I’ll be tracking the others down soon.

My final offering for this month is a non-fiction piece. “Blood, Sweat and Pixels” is a recounting of the effort it takes to get video games from conception to completion. I like games, though I don’t get to play them frequently enough to recognise more than two or three of the ones mentioned in this book (and I’ve not actually played ANY of them) and worst of all, the book ends with the sad story of the now-legendary “1313”, the Star Wars game that never was. When you read the stories, you wonder why anyone even tries to make video games, let alone how they reach the markets. You also, if you’re me, wonder if there’s ever going to be a playable release of 1313.

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The September 2017 Lazy Bee Newsletter

Here we are, back at the start of another school year.  (At least it is in the northern hemisphere; I have lost track of the way these things are managed in the antipodes.)  For anyone planning their theatrical season, this is a reminder that we have a variety of seasonal plays including entertainments for Halloween, both religious and secular Christmas shows and a huge variety of other material for schools and youth theatres.  Of course, it’s also the run-up to the panto season, and again we have vast numbers available.  If you’re looking for something specific, try our pantomime pages or the search engine.  If you’re in a hurry and need a short-cut to our best sellers, then follow the “what’s hot” link from the Lazy Bee Scripts home page.
 

Sketches, Skits and Short Plays

Comedy sketches and short plays.  (The plays may also be comedies or may evoke a broader spread of emotions.)  Each runs to less than 20 minutes, by our estimate.  However, it’s worth noting that our reckoning is wrong!  It’s based on word count, so it judges all plays in the same way.  This is fair, but in practice the timing will vary enormously.  Someone made good use of our script feedback (via our Contacts page) to tell us that their production of Two Surgeons (by Damian Trasler and Steve Clark of TLC Creative) ran at 4 minutes, not the 10 minutes that we suggest.  In that case, it’s very close to stand-up comedy – high rate of patter and little action – so we will tend to overestimate, whereas for plays with movement and dramatic pauses, we may underestimate.

  • Gill Medway gives us a trio of short plays, available to buy as a collection or individually:
    Two Left Feet (1M, 2F) follows 40-something Joy, who has turned up at her sister Carole’s place following a divorce.  While Joy sags about on the sofa looking joyless, Carole enjoys a fulfilling life in the ballroom with new boyfriend Steve – but is he really the romantic he’s cracked up to be?
    There’s plenty of life left in Sid, although he’s approaching his eightieth birthday, though life becomes difficult in Baggy Trousers (1M, 1F) when patronising new carer Melanie arrives.
    A once-popular children’s author takes solace in a letter from her last surviving fan in Out Of Print (1M, 1F) .
  • Jonathan Edgington’s I.  Guy (1M, 2F) explores futuristic friendship.  Veronica and Courtney spice up their ailing relationship by bringing Carlos into the fold.  This is much to Courtney’s chagrin – until she discovers that Carlos is a robot.
  • The Love Potion (1M, 1F) is sold to Jennifer by a mysterious shopkeeper.  She hopes to use it to save her tangled love life, though the elixir yields unexpected results in Robert M.  Barr’s short play.
  • Two clerks sort through an eclectic array of new books in Damian Trasler’s short sketch In The Library (2 Either)
  • A salesman tries to buy a second hand car and ends up considering taking a second look at his chosen career.  A Second Hand (1M) by Lucy Cooper was originally published in 2009, but has been re-jigged to keep up with these enlightened times.
  • Abandon Ship” (2M, 1 Either) cry the passengers on Fred and Ernie’s ferry – but their prevarication and bickering leaves the duo vulnerable as their vessel sinks.  A sketch by Robert Black.
  • Dana Davies’ Date Night (2M, 1F) can’t be explored in too much detail without upsetting the school email filters – needless to say, raunchy misunderstandings and ill-prepared schemes abound.

 

Musicals and Musical Plays

Two new musical pieces, both aimed at schools (probably the upper years of primary school and the lower years of secondary school, respectively).

  • What The Dickens! (8M, 3F) is something you might exclaim upon viewing Andrew Yates’ latest work for children – a madcap musical medley through Oliver Twist, Bleak House, A Christmas Carol and more.  This includes some feisty encounters, as Charles Dickens comes face to face with some of his less desirable creations.
  • Nicholas Richards writes a wide variety of material for the stage; mainly, though not exclusively, for schools.  Some time ago, we published his play A Tale of a Nail, much of which occurs inside the human body – an anthropomorphisation of the immune system’s response to attack.  He followed this up with a musical version (probably aimed at the junior years of secondary school), which we’ve just published as A Tail Of A Nail – A Musical Play.  In this case, it’s a play with four songs (and some incidental music); another of Nicholas’s musical offerings (this one in conjunction with Timothy Hallett) is a stage version of The Lambton Worm which is a single continuous piece of music running throughout the show.  Effectively, it’s acted to a sung narration.  We published that some years ago and we’ve just added a demo recording of the whole piece and an updated backing recording.

 

One-Act Plays

Theatre writing covers a wide range of subjects and purposes.  Sometimes it’s purely for fun, sometimes it’s a cathartic experience (in which, for example, the writer gets to choose which relative gets murdered on stage).  It can also tackle some of the big issues of our age. Outside politics, two of the issues that exercise me the most are the prevelence of dementia and the rise of artificial intelligence. Consequently, I’ve written a one-act play that combines the two subjects.  (My feelings about this echo Vaughan-Williams remark about his fourth symphony: “I don’t know whether I like it, but it’s what I meant”.)

  • Stephen Mercer gives us the alliteratively titled Llandudno, Lust and Lollipops (1M, 1F) – unless you’re using the proper Welsh pronunciation, that is.  Charlie and Annie’s marriage has become humdrum, such that Annie finds herself experiencing fantasies of a more exciting life.  The pair unwind forty years of strained politeness to discover that they both have more in common than they thought.
  • The Night Nurse (2M) greets Greg after he wakes up in a hospital bed following a car crash.  When he encounters the eerily familiar day nurse, Raymond, Greg soon realises that things are a little odd.  A tense one act drama from Louise Wade.
  • Take The Turing Test (3F, 1 Either) if you’re after a festival-length drama, the latest from Stuart Ardern.  Alison Grove, an Artificial intelligence researcher, is struggling to cope with her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease when she should be focused on the question of whether machines are capable of rational thought.
  • Jenny knows that John’s Mother (3F), Diane, isn’t her biggest fan.  When the put-downs and asides get too much, she confides to her best friend that she’d love her out of the way.  When Diane unexpectedly dies, the real trouble starts in Helen Boyce’s new drama.
  • The Importance Of Being Belinda (6F) follows the feminist Sapphire Theatre Collective in their final rehearsal for ‘The Importance Of Being Earnest’ – though Wilde’s original has been revised and updated to cater for a female cast and political correctness.  A witty one-acter from John Garforth.
  • Pensioner Veronica has settled very nicely into her cottage and has developed a substantial (and profitable) following amongst the men in the village.  News of her exploits has reached her daughters who are, at first, determined to put a stop to it.  Sibling rivalries boil to the surface and themes of family, love, relationships and cake are explored in Paul Foster’s Prerogative (2M, 3F)
  • Paul John Matthews’ Café Fear (3M, 3F) is a drama with elements of tragicomedy.  Two newspaper reporters, Angela and Jim, are following up reports of an escaped patient from a local secure mental hospital.  Stopping off at a café, they are soon joined by a cast of bizarre characters, and mutual suspicions grow when their backstories become increasingly unlikely.
  • A Change Of Heart (4M, 7F) comprises a tale of deception and murder in 19th Century Manchester, the latest enrapturing historical drama from Tony Frier.  When Mrs Chiltern unexpectedly returns home one evening to find her husband dead, little does she imagine that she will be the one facing the gallows.
  • A group of friends make a contingency plan in the event that any of them become seriously ill.  Ten years on, that pact is put to the test in Duncan Battman’s Spoofing For Gordon (3M, 1F)
  • School staffroom strife in Damian Woods’ The Primary Candidate (3M, 4F).  Headmaster Gordon Lewis has called an extraordinary staff meeting, but has excluded one department in doing so.  He announces a forthcoming VIP visit along with the vacancy for Assistant Head, causing much lively discussion and rivalry.
  • Get your Christmas play shopping done early with I Don’t Think I’ll Be Here Next Christmas (1M, 3F) by Dawn Cairns.  Cantankerous pensioner Jean always spends Christmas with her son John and his wife Sheila.  The mutual dislike between Sheila and Jean bubbles under the surface, and threatens to boil over after an incident involving sixpences in the Christmas pudding.
  • The two acts of David Pemberton’s Doppelganger are now available individually as one-act plays.  Deception and Disguise (7M, 4F) were inspired by the plays that in turn inspired Shakespeare’s A Comedy Of Errors and Twelfth Night respectively.

 

Full-Length Plays

I’m amazed by authors’ capacity for invention.  The new full-length plays include a tale about an autocratic publisher.  I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone like that…

  • Jane Eyre (5M, 9F) has been adapted from the Charlotte Bronte novel by Richard Hills.  The story of Jane, who takes the position of governess of Mr Rochester’s young French ward in 1846, is faithfully transformed into a stage piece.
  • More early-bird festivity can be found in Jamie Lakritz’s The Great Christmas Cracker Heist (5M, 6F, 1 Either).  Everyone at the cracker factory is looking forward to their seasonal bonus – But things aren’t going as well as they seem at the company, so the staff take steps to get the money they’re banking on.
  • Mike Warrick’s spooky comedy A Wake All Night (5M, 5F) takes place in the mansion of late billionaire Sir Roger Laughton.  Following the eclectic businessman’s funeral, several select guests are invited to try and spend the night at his haunted abode.  But why these guests in particular?
  • Similarly ghostly is Nothing Old, Nothing New, Anne Graham’s single-setting farce.  Valerie is dead but unable to leave her house, now occupied by her son and his wife Zoe – the cause of her fury and her enforced sit-in.  Her grandson arrives to find his mother making plans for his sister’s wedding – though scandalous revelations soon scupper everyone’s plans.
  • A detective on administrative leave and a reporter with everything to prove have to team up to solve a forgotten crime in Alice And The Cold Case (5M, 5F) by Damian Trasler
  • White Rock (4M, 4F) is the publishing firm in Martin Ward’s thriller, where autocratic owner Sir James Bannerman has just been found murdered.  Inspector Hilliard has his work cut out to find the culprit, given that everyone at the office had a compelling reason to commit the crime.  We can confirm that no such dramatics occur in real-life publishing houses.

 

Pantomimes

Sheer Luck Holmes was produced by the Apollo Players (on the Isle of Wight).  A picture of their dancing policemen appears on our web page for the script.

  • Bob Heather and Cheryl Barrett have remastered Sheer Luck Holmes (1M, 5F, 13 Either).  All of the familiar panto ingredients and faces bound together to solve the mysterious case of the missing art works.  Holmes is assisted by his housekeeper Dottie the Dame and Baskerville the pantomime dog.
  • A new take on Cinderella (4M, 4F, 10 Either) takes the audience from the Job Centre to the Palace via Hardup Hall by a rejuvenated Fairy Godmother and a talking parrot.  The Ugly Sisters are addicted to Facebook, while Prince Charming runs his life according to his fitbit.
  • Best-selling author Robert Scott takes on the world of panto with Adrian – The Alternative Pantomime (5M, 5F, 1 Either), available in both clean and not-so-family-friendly versions.  Adrian’s not your typical inhabitant of Pantoland.  He’s level-headed, and can spot the difference between a wolf and a Granny.  But due to unfortunate circumstances, he’s tasked with the role of Fairy Godmother – for everyone!

 

Plays for Schools and Youth Theatre

There seems to be a theme running through our new youth plays, but, for the most part, it’s Greek to me:-

  • Stewart Boston goes all Greek with Antigone (4M, 2F, 2Either), a dramatic retelling of Sophocles’ tragedy – perfect for secondary/high schools and youth theatre.
  • Continuing the ancient theme, Graham Milton offers us two short plays, ideal for school assembly pieces: The adeptly-named Troy Story (6M, 2F) is a comic take on the story of the Trojan War, featuring a rapping and bloodthirsty chorus to keep the audience up to speed.  Oedipus – Swollen Foot (8M, 3F) similarly provides a remarkably light-hearted and accessible take on a Greek tragedy.
  • Lou Treleaven’s Absolutely Aesop (3M, 1F, 14 Either) may prove ideal for those looking to stage a family-friendly one-acter.  As part of the series of Absolutely Ancients, the eponymous author is brought onto a chat show to discuss his most famous fables, and meet some of the characters again.
  • Feline fanatics may take to Louise Wade’s It’s A Cat’s Life (1M, 3F, 3 Either).  A group of cats are introducing the latest kitten to life on the lane, when a stray offers a differing view of humans and their houses.  Before any conclusions can be drawn, the kitten gets into danger and needs rescue.
  • Chariot (4M, 6F) by Chad Bearden was written for two young principals (and could be played by a youth company or a mix of youth and older actors).  Lenny and Margo are left orphaned when their mother dies, but their Uncle Joe sneaks them away from government care and takes them on a wild and imagination-filled road trip.

 

Murder Mysteries

Just one new murder mystery this time, but featuring the reprise of the detective from the best-selling Death on Delivery:-

  • Detective Inspector Ben Cleveleys bobs in and out of the action in Richard Adams’ An Inspector Pops In (4M, 4F).  Ageing actor Gary’s estranged wife is plotting with his entourage to systematically drain his bank balance.  When Lisa, a young reporter from the local newspaper arrives for an interview with Gary, she becomes privy to conversations which threaten to uncover the whole plot.

 

What do you write?

The most-asked question for writers is usually “Where do your ideas come from?”

Image result for GIF where do your ideas come from

The gif is the honest answer many writers give, though others have despaired of being asked so often. John Cleese once said:

“People often say, Where do you get your ideas from? And I say I get them from a Mr. Ken Levingshore who lives in Swinden, he sends them to me every Monday morning on a postcard. I once asked Ken where he gets his ideas from, and he gets them from a lady called Mildred Spong who lives on the Isle of Wight. He once asked Mildred where she gets her ideas from and she refused to say. So the point is, we don’t know. This is terribly important. We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is we do not get them from our laptops.”

I wish people would ask me where I get my ideas from, but the truth is, people rarely ask me about my writing at all. Which is fair, because I spend most of the day working in a library, so it would be awfully self-indulgent to talk about my plays or e-books.

When I am asked, it’s always the nebulous question “What do you write?”, and despite almost twenty years of writing experience, I still don’t have a short answer to it. The plays I write range from short comic sketches to philosophical debates and conflicts I would personally avoid. Most have humour in them, but not all.  And when it comes to the e-books, I’m no better at settling on a genre, or even fiction or non-fiction.

From a writing point of view, I have no issue with this. It’s fun, writing what occurs without trying to bend it into a different shape so it fits the pigeonhole I’m in. On the other hand, when it comes to marketing, it can make life very difficult. Well, sales, it makes sales very difficult.

This deep thought about the origin of inspiration was prompted by the publication of my latest play, a full-length that is nothing like any of my previous pieces. The two main characters are young women, it’s set in the 80’s in America, and it’s a police procedural. The ending is also atypical of the things I write. You can read the whole script online here.

If you do, please let me know what you think. And, perhaps, where you think I got the idea from….