Tag Archives: TLC Creative

The Latest Scripts from Lazy Bee : Sept 2016

Image result for Lazy Bee Logo

The latest round of scripts published by Lazy Bee Scripts have been gathered together in their regular newsletter (The Buzz). I’ve taken that list and some of  the other notices and put them here for your edification. All the scripts can be found by searching the title or author at www.lazybeescripts.co.uk  and it’s always worth checking out “What’s New” on the website.

Plays for Schools and Youth Theatre

Our latest publication for children (covering a range of ages) are:-

  • Peter Yates dispels a few Nordic myths while providing some real historical insight in his school piece The Vikings (9M, 3F)
  • The Seven Wonders (17M, 4F) by Nicholas Richards is an accessible and educational school play, that teaches not only history but also the power of books, and their ability to educate and inspire.
  • Roger Hurn’s new plays are ideal for school assemblies.  Thor’s Hammer (7M, 1F) is based on a traditional Scandinavian folk story, and Joseph And The Truth Stick (2M, 0F) provides a cautionary tale from ancient Egypt.
  • Face2Face (15M, 9F), Helen Spencer’s school ensemble piece is designed for Key Stage 2 pupils, with the theme of bullying at its core, though has many humorous TV-themed interludes.  Sam is a delightful child – happy, smiley and kind to others.  Well, at least that’s the impression she gives to grown-ups.  When her parents aren’t looking, or the teachers’ backs are turned, Sam reveals her true personality.
  • Gerry Murphy’s single setting piece The Three Wishes (7M, 3F) tells the cautionary tale of an impoverished peasant who makes a Faustian pact with Lucifer.
  • Young people come of age in the high school drama Behind Their Eyes (8M, 7F).  The play is a poignant dramatisation of the real life stories and experiences witnessed by the author Taylor Seymour.

 

Musicals and Musical Plays

Shows with a significant musical element – original songs or song suggestions.

  • Sarah Archer’s comedy drama Dearly Beloved (1M, 3F) features an original song and the opportunity for two others, and sees three very different people trapped in a mysterious room.  The trio must work together to find the answers that will set them free.
  • More amateur dramatics chaos in Cheryl Barrett’s comedy Free For Hall, as a double booking in the village hall leads to a tense stand-off.  There is potential for two song and dance routines.
  • Trinity Road School Reunion by Dawn Cairns is a full length musical with suggested songs.  A class comes back together years after school has finished, for a 70s night at a local pub.  New romances awaken, and old ones are remembered.  Some have changed quite dramatically, but the old bully is still the same.
  • And while we’re here, I should mention Ruth, Graham W Evans’s musical telling of the bible story.  We published this some time ago, but we have, at long last, added Graham’s CD of backing tracks for the show.
    We’ve also belatedly added vocal demos for a couple of children’s shows: A Musical Mother Goose by Gerald P.  Murphy and Minny Pinny Makes a Difference by Stuart Ardern.

 

Full-Length Plays

We are sponsoring the writing competition for full-length plays run by Bread & Roses Theatre.  (Submissions close on September 30.)  They are seeking plays with a majority of female roles (which is a good thing, reflecting the make-up of many theatre companies).  More information on their web site.  We look forward to reading the winning entries, meanwhile, our latest publications are:-

  • Ethan Bortman’s Obvious Guilt (4M, 3F) has been remastered with a British setting.  Nigel’s wife has gone missing and her mother is determined to involve the police.  As time goes by, things look blacker for Nigel, but he protests his innocence to the last.
  • A vivid historical drama on the life and loves of Byron, Mad, Bad, And Dangerous To Know (2M, 4F) is told largely from the female perspective, written by Jim and Bronwyn Jameson.
  • Play Safe (6M, 5F) from Paul Rudelhoff & Jane Hilliard is a full length farce set in a home for retired entertainers.  Trouble brews as two rookie criminals break in, with the intention of stealing the combination to a safe.
  • Lee Stewart’s Legacy (3M, 2F) centres around a dysfunctional family attending the reading of Uncle John’s will.  The provisos within lead the characters to in-fighting and nefarious scheming in a bid to get their hands on the inheritance.
  • Greeting Cards (2M, 2F), Frank Flynn’s comedy drama centres around two roommates.  Robbie is out of work, having suffered a stroke, while Max struggles to care for him.  Two women, Mandy and Max’s sister Gertie provide the catalyst for life saving changes for the pair.  There are three possible endings to choose from in Robert Scott’s The Amateur Killer (3M, 4F), a murder mystery drama centring around a local amateur dramatics society.  Director Daniel is letting his personal history with Lucas affect their relationship as he directs the production of Adieu, but it’s his knowledge of Lucas’ affair with Natalie that will lead to murder.
  • Two spirits ponder the manner of their death in Herb Hasler’s A Haunted Haunting (8M, 7F).  Confusions arise in this full length comedy, as medium Mona summons a host of oddball spirits to find the answer.
  • To Shut The Mouth Of Lions (4M, 2F) is a powerful drama from Dave Clark.  William’s wilful refusal to acknowledge his son’s lifestyle choice leads to a Christmas confrontation with his family.
  • Take five ladies of varying backgrounds and put them in the rest room at an exercise class.  They talk about their lives, their hopes and fears openly and unashamedly. Add into the mix a young, single, male fitness instructor and see what happens in Geoff Fulford’s Exercise In Discretion (2M, 5F)

 

Sketches, Skits and Short Plays

Mainly sketches, this time, but also a couple of short plays.  All running to less than 20 minutes.

  • Two Yorkshiremen share anniversary gift ideas and other worldly wisdom in Cheryl Barrett‘s Silver-Tongued
  • The mercurial minds at TLC Creative have gifted us with a menagerie of new skits, the settings of which range from boardrooms to safari parks.  These offerings come from David Lovesy with occasional help from Brian Two, and one contribution from Damian Trasler: The Business Meeting (2M 1F), Soul Bargain (2M), Imagine You Are A Tree (2 Either), The Wonders Of Science (2M), Is This A Sketch? (2 Either), The Earthquake Drill (1F, 2 Either), Shyfari (2M, 1 Either), and A Day At A Spa Resort (2M)
  • I Will Pass My Jeans On from Patricia G is a short but sweet piece.  Two sisters sort through some old clothes for the charity shop while their mother watches on.
  • Three new contributions from Robert Scott give equally humorous, sharp and absurd takes on the worlds of art critique, classical music and Hollywood film: Joan: The Movie (2 Either), For The Love Of Art (3M), and Symphony Dreadful (1M, 2 Either)
  • Philistines and experts face off in Herb Hasler’s Art’s Gallery.  (2M 1F)
  • Olivia Arieti adapts a Mary E.  Wilkins story in The Mayor’s Christmas Masquerade (5M, 7F)
  • The customer is always right, although in Peter Keel’s Book City they can sometimes struggle with the finer points.  (1M, 2 Either)
  • Tony Domaille’s spoof detective noir Rick Risk P.I. sees the title character embark on an amusingly cliché ridden roller coaster, meeting the glamorous Somer Field on the way.  (1M, 1F)
  • A case of mistaken identity leads to A Blind Date in Rollin Jewett’s short comedy play.  (2M, 1F)
  • Just A Bus Driver, Susan Middaugh’s ten minute drama, sees the title character confronted with a gun wielding passenger.  (2M)

 

Pantomimes

Here we have some traditional panto themes, along with a smattering of unusual subjects, mainly for family audiences (but one show that definitely isn’t).

  • Sharon Hulm’s collection of panto-themed sketches Behind You! features an interview with a genie, the characters of Robin Hood trying their hand at speed dating, and a piratey job interview.  More fairytale worlds collide in Goldie Locks And Some Other Guys, Sharon’s latest full length offering, where Goldie, jewel thief extraordinaire, is pursued by three hungry bears.
  • Cinderessex by Barry Smith is most definitely not suitable for family viewing.  Fairy Nuff’s magic allows Cinderessex to attend an exclusive party at The Glass Slipper club, owned by millionaire England footballer Jack Charming.  Only until midnight, that is.
  • Richard Coleman gives us a rhyming masterclass in Chaos In Wonderland, where Alice teams up with Jack to overthrow the Queen of Hearts.
  • Andrew O’Leary’s Rapunzel is our fourth published adaptation.  When the wicked fairy Gothel is stripped of her powers, they are accidentally transferred to the hair of baby princess Rapunzel.  Years later a brave boy sets out to find her and bring her home
  • Cleopatra Kicks Some Asp is a fun packed Ancient Egyptian-themed offering from Jonathan Goodson.  The evil Avaricia and her ugly sisters try to cheat young Cleo out of the Mighty Jewel of the Pharaohs.
  • Our second Ali Baba panto (others have Ali Baba and something else in the title, usually thieves) is set in a Cairo bakery – Will Fatima Baba’s flatcakes ever get the seal of approval from Pharaoh Rosher?  (Authors Bob Heather and Cheryl Barrett will donate a percentage of their royalties to charity.)
  • Suzan Holder gives us a a revised re-telling of Cinderella, our Version 6.  An updated rags-to-riches – via a pumpkin – story.
  • Aladdin has been given the girl’s school treatment by Rachel Harries.  This panto is designed for an all female cast, though can easily be adapted to suit a mixed bag.  Evil villainesses and magic lamps abound in our tenth Aladdin adaptation.
  • Dame Patsy’s pasty factory is under threat in The Parrots Of Penzance, Peter Yates’ eclectic offering.  The race to capture two valuable giant Peruvian parrots descends into pantomime fun.
  • Bottoms Up!  – The Panto by Hilary Ayshford sees pantomime meet Shakespeare, as A Midsummer Night’s Dream is retold with a healthy mix of modern day humour and eloquent quips.

 

One-Act Plays

We estimate run times from the number of words.  (There’s a post about this on the Beewaxing blog entitled ‘How Long is a Piece of Theatre?’) By our calculations, all these plays have run times of between 20 minutes and an hour.  The upper boundary may be of concern to groups planning competition entries (because usually there’s an upper limit of 50 or 55 minutes).  This concerned Tony Frier in particular, as his play would make a good festival piece but is possibly on the long side (though your production may well run at a faster pace).  In any case, Tony’s production notes say that he is amenable to cuts to meet festival limits.

  • Scott Kingsnorth gives us the remarkable Palindrome (1M, 4F), a dystopian drama with a unique narrative.  Ladies (2F), on the other hand gives us a more identifiable tale of post-wedding-party blues.
  • The true story of Donnie Merrett is superbly adapted to the stage in Tony Frier’s powerful drama As The Clock Struck Ten (6M, 4F).  At the age of 17, Merrett shoots his mother after she discovers he had been forging cheques in her name.  Joining the navy reserve upon release from prison, he soon returns to a life of crime and debauchery.  After fleeing the military and narrowly escaping court martial he heads back to London where he continues to demand money to fund his habits.
  • Our Little Secret (2M, 1F) is Rollin Jewett’s award winning comic drama.  Darlene’s evening in is interrupted by an armed intruder, and an unlikely relationship develops between the pair.
  • Geoff Rose-Michael’s latest thrillers are three different tales of drama and deceit – the dire consequences of cheating a driving exam in The Test (1M, 1F), a sinister cover-up in When You’re Dead (3M 2F), and an armed robbery that isn’t as it seems in Innocent Witness (2M, 2F).
  • Window Pain (3M, 4F) is a bitter-sweet comedy from Patricia G.  Brenda thinks she knows all her neighbour’s secrets from the comfort of her window.  The residents of her neighbourhood, however, have their own stories to tell, and they are stark contrasts to Brenda’s preconceived ideas.
  • An American and an English couple squabble in Rosemary Frisino Toohey’s drama Fish Have Feelings Too (3M, 3F).  Eventually the couples’ children diffuse the situation give them something else to think about
  • Matters Arising (4M, 1F) by Richard Moore features a routine will-reading gone awry, unveiling the web of deceit in the secret lives of the beneficiaries.
  • An obsession with ancestry and a desire to claim the inheritance of an obscure relative are the driving points of American Dreaming (5M, 5F), David Pemberton’s comedy drama.

 

Murder Mysteries

There are three new interactive murder mysteries in the latest crop.  Time for your audience to get out their magnifying glasses and work out whodunnit…

  • Downtown Crabbey is a period mystery by Joanne Mercer, set in 1900 in a London hotel trying to cater for American tourists.  The impending arrival of a hotel inspector has caused a panic in the dining room and, worst of all, a fork has gone missing.
  • Nostalgia for a different period from Debi Irene Wahl in The Monster Mashed – a mystery for a small cast of comedy horror characters, with a couple of songs thrown in for good measure.
  • Richard Adams presents a detective-led mystery in Mystic Myrtle which starts with a visit to a fortune teller and leads into an intricate tale where all of the characters have motives for doing one another in.  So the first mystery is who goes first.

 

 

New Web Site Features

Pick a number (not quite any number)

If you buy a performance set of scripts from us, we used to define that as one Producer’s Copy and a fixed number of Cast Copies. Now we’ve changed that so that the customer can choose the number of Cast Copies.  Normally, at this point, you’d be given a sales pitch about why more Cast Copies would be useful to you.  Of course I’m going to do that, but I’ll also tell you why you might want fewer (the cheaper option).
With some scripts, particularly large cast productions, it’s possible to have one actor playing multiple roles.  If you know you’re going to do that, then you can pick the number of Cast Copies you need.  (There is a lower limit, which is the feasible minimum cast size.)
On the other hand, you might want additional copies for members of a chorus, for prompt and stage crew and to give to competition judges. In that case you can add as many Cast Copies as you need.
(The same function also makes it possible to order multiple Review copies.)

Buy a collection, perform a script

We have a small number of “collections” – sets of scripts, generally sketches or short pieces, grouped by theme and bundled together (at a discount over the sum of the individual parts).  Occasionally, customers want to buy the collection but perform just some of the component scripts.  Our web site will now recognise this automatically and grant performance rights for individual scripts that were bought as part of a collection.

Get an up-to-date catalogue

We’ve moved the Catalogue (or Catalog, if you prefer the US spelling) into the [Browse] menu.  We’ve also updated so that the catalogue is generated when you click the button, so you instantly get a PDF which includes the latest publications.

Build your own catalogue

The point of the catalogue is to be printable (so that you can hand a copy round).  The problem with a catalogue is that it contains a lot of things that you don’t want mixed in with the things you might want.  The Lazy Bee Scripts search engine gives results that are closer to what you are looking for, but it’s more difficult to print.  Aha!  There’s now a button which enables you to create a PDF of your search results.

PDF Receipts

We have, for a while now, had a feature whereby you can generate a receipt for a paid order via the [Customers] menu.
We’ve extended that so that the receipts (and invoices, for orders for which you have yet to pay) are generated as PDFs – which look better and are easier to print.
This is particularly useful for customers who pay by card but want a receipt in their own currency (as long as it’s Euro or US, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand dollars).  The customer’s currency part of the receipt will be approximate – because we charge in pounds and the customer’s card provider does the conversion into local currency, so we never see the exchange rate – but for most purposes it will be close enough.

#endofblog

Ever get the feeling you took a wrong turn?

 

It’s possibly a little over dramatic, but today is the day I stop blogging. Maybe forever, maybe just for a while. Sme friends have been kind enough to ask why, so here goes.

 

A couple of years ago, I was blogging under the banner “The Great Canadian Adventure.” Here was me and my family doing something brave and unusual, throwing all our possessions into a container and moving to a different continent. We were leaving behind family and friends, and blogging seemed a good way to keep everyone updated on our progress and news.

But after a year or more, it wasn’t so important. We were skyping, we were on Facebook, and folks had adjusted to us not turning up to visit. Some had even been out to visit us. I went to a seminar on blogging and how it was an essential tool for the modern writer and took a long look at my own blog. Did it do the job? I bought Kristen Lamb’s book, “We Are Not Alone” and put some of her ideas into proctice. I took her online course, making a bunch of great friends along the way, and yes, I raised the visitor stats on my blog too.

And over the last year I have checked those stats with an obsessive fervour, worrying about making my daily, weekly and monthly quota, trying to find the mystic subject that would ignite the net and get me Freshly Pressed. Should I add video clips? Should I link more per page? Am I mentioning my e-book enough?

On the other side of the Atlantic, one of my writing partners was being just as obsessive about our sales. He sends me regular updates on a spreadsheet, which showed that, while they were still healthy, in most cases sales were falling. We were selling less, despite my impressive readership. The fabled “Word of mouth” recommendation I had been chasing has not materialised.

 

That’s not to say I don’t believe what Kristen has been teaching. I KNOW that her methods work, that a platform is essential for an author, certainly more so now than ever. It may be entirely my fault, but the blog has not improved my situation. In fact, it may have made it worse.

 

Since we hooked up with our publisher all those years ago, TLC Creative have maintained a healthy market share. We produce a new panto each year, and I added to the stock of one act plays on a semi-regular basis. Sketches appeared more often than not, and we’ve even come up with a couple of full-length pieces. But not this year.

This year the only writing I have managed has been the scenes I was tasked with for our pantomime. They were late, the latest I’ve ever produced work for TLC, and far from writing more than I was asked, I scraped the bare minimum.

 

Since I finished my full length play “Merely Players” over a year ago, I have not written a single thing. Other than my blog.

 

Some of you may be sitting at your computers saying “Well, that’s just writer’s block, everyone gets that.”

I would agree, except it’s not that I haven’t had ideas. I have. I’ve had quite a few ideas trot through my brain, but I have not given them the time that I have dedicated to chasing another ten views on my blog, and that has to be wrong. The blog is supposed to be a way of connecting with people so they can be interested in what I write. It’s not supposed to BE all I write.

So the logical thing, the obvious thing, the right thing to do is stop blogging. Stop pouring my available writing time into building castles online and go back to building worlds on other people’s stages. People still find me, and the people who have been in touch most recently did not come to me via my blog. They found the TLC website and contacted me through that.

I’ll still follow with interest the blogs of my friends, and I’ll still use my wordpress id to comment and encourage. But perhaps some time away from staring at the visitor stats will allow me to make some new, imaginary friends and write about their adventures.

 

After all, it’s what I get paid for.

Hot off the press!

TLC pose amongst denser heads......

One of my most popular posts in the last couple of months has been this one. Not because it rings bells or strikes chords with lots of people, but because it mentions lots of names. It’s the post where I included the full newsletter from Lazy Bee Scripts, The Buzz, because they’d just published “Merely Players“, my first full-length play.
Working at my new job has meant less writing at home, but nonetheless, the latest Buzz is out and it shows that I’ve had a new sketch published, alongside a collection of sketches from TLC Creative. Here’s the relevent paragraph:

Sketches & Very Short Plays

  • Not many new sketches this time – in fact, only Damian Trasler’s Vacuuming Sketch – but we’ve also published a new sketch collection in the form of An Hour You Won’t Get Back by TLC Creative (that’s Damian Trasler with David Lovesy and Steve Clark). This is a compilation of sketches with a total run time of, yes, around an hour – therefore enough material to form a complete sketch show (with the added advantage of a lower price than buying the sketches individually.)

I’m a little nervous about letting everyone in on The Vacuuming sketch – I have a feeling it tells you more about my private life than you ought to know… And I’m sorry for not including the full Buzz. It would have improved my page stats, but I felt sorry for the people searching for specific plays or authors and ending up on my blog, instead of at Lazy Bee, where they could actually buy the play they were looking for.

When I’m not making excuses about it, I’m a playwright, writing in particular for community theatre. A year ago I was travelling along a deserted country road, when a blinding light shone out and a heavenly voice boomed “Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” before driving past me in a nippy sports car. Thanks to this experience, I felt led to write “Writing a play for community theatre”, and inspiring e-book available from the TLC Creative website at http://www.tlc-creative.co.uk, or from Lazy Bee Scripts at http://www.lazybeescripts.co.uk.

Talking out of my….hat

Why are they all standing? Are they about to leave?

So, on Sunday I’ll be giving a talk to the good people of SMP Dramatics. In my defence, it was their idea. The Chairman emailed to ask if I would come along to their AGM and talk “about the life of a playwright”. Now I come to think about it, maybe they’re expecting me to give a bio of Shakespeare or Pinter…Uh oh!

SMP are a special group because they’ve been extremely helpful to me. Long before we met, they performed a couple of TLC pantomimes here in Vancouver (on the North Shore) and when Steve and David came to visit last year, we saw the posters for the SMP production of Fawlty Towers, which Steve and David had just finished producing with MKTOC. When Steve saw the name of the group, he recognised them as previous customers. We got in touch, and were invited along to one of the rehearsals (since Steve and David would have returned to the UK before the performances.) It was a very pleasant evening, reminding me of the fun and cameraderie of a community theatre company, and Steve and David got to run through some of the moves they had developed for their production.

Naturally we talked to the good folks there about projects past, present and future, and I mentioned “Merely Players“, saying how I was pleased with it but unsure if it was worth taking further. SMP kindly agreed to stage a reading of the play and give me their feedback. I talk about that experience in THIS post.

But now they’ve asked me to come and talk, and I’m finding the same issues with writing the talk as I do about writing this blog. The life of a writer is much like the life of a plumber. The actual work isn’t that interesting. In fact,maybe that’s not fair. I guess sometimes the life of a plumber can be quite exciting, with flooded houses, exploding toilets and gushing washing machines. Hmm, maybe I’ll retrain… Where was I? Oh yeah.

The life of a playwright is just regular life, only with some time spent writing plays. But writing plays is just sitting at a keyboard, daydreaming and taking dictation. Maybe if I was one of those playwrights who turn their grim life experiences into plays, if I was a refugee who had to work thirty seven hours a day making ping pong balls in a underground sweatshop in Littleknown, Exoticville, then made my way to freedom aboard a boat made from rice paper, maybe then my life would be worth talking about.

But I don’t write about that.  Some days I can’t help feeling a complete fraud (back to the discussion of FEARS, here) because I write plays that are aimed to entertain. Some of them have questions at their heart, ideas that I wanted to explore, like “The Red Balloon” and “A Time for Farewells“, but that doesn’t mean I have some mystic method. I don’t summon the Intergalactic Hivemind during mystic yoga sessions to inform the questions at the heart of my work. I wish I did, because then at least I’d have something to do on the days when I haven’t the faintest idea what to write next.

The point I’m edging towards in this increasingly desperate sounding post is that I’m going to talk to SMP about Community Theatre, which sounds like a dumb idea. After all, they’re a Community Theatre group, aren’t they? Surely they’re pretty familiar with the whole thing. Well, yes, they probably are. But I want to talk about why I write for Community Theatre groups instead of trying to write a play that’ll be put on in the West End of London and leave the critics faint with ecstasy. Obviously one reason is that my publisher has a marketplace almost entirely composed of Community groups and schools, though there’s nothing to stop a professional company buying a script there. No the main reason is that I have spent time in Community Theatre. I remember the joy of a good play, the feeling of infinite possibility granted by an empty stage. I remember that part vividly, the feeling that you can make this space into anything, anywhere and people will believe it. For the length of a play, your audience will come along with you on your adventure. All they ask is that you put your heart and soul ito the performance. and you know what? Most of the time that’s what you get with Community Theatre. People are there because they love it, not because it’s another tick on their equity card, or a third-rate part they had to take when they didn’t get the lead in Hamlet again.

Yes, people in a Community Theatre group may fight like a bunch of cats in a sack over all kinds of things, but when it comes to the production EVERYONE puts their heart and soul into it because that’s why they’re there.

What drives YOU to write? Have you had any experience with Community Theatre? What organisations helped you recover afterwards? Do you know ANYONE who has bought my book “Writing a play for Community Theatre”? What organisations helped them recover afterwards?

Wait, is it February already?

The name of the store has been obscured so I don't bring it into disrepute.

I bet you’re thinking this is YET ANOTHER post about resolutions – well, no it isn’t. Last Friday I ambled into work and was told to expect a parade of folks coming in that afternoon for the annual Spring Hiring Fair. I was to welcome them graciously to the store and ask them to take a seat in the Seasonal Department. I agreed and then started to frown. There was something familiar about the Annual Spring Hiring Fair, now what was it? Oh yes, that was where I came to get MY job….last year.

I very nearly had to go and take a seat in the Seasonal Department myself. A year. A whole year. I’ve been standing by the door and saying “Hello.” to complete strangers for a year.* This was not the plan.

Well, I say that, but what exactly WAS the plan? I know that the playwriting job was not sufficient for the mortgage people, so me having a ‘proper’ job with payslips and all made a big difference there, even if the wages didn’t. I know that it was important for me to feel that I was DOING something to help out with the financial situation, and there didn’t seem to be any reliable ways to increase my writing income. Mrs Dim had the notion that it would be good for me to get out and meet people, and yes, I can now say I have some friends at work, people who I’m glad to see and interested to talk to. So that’s all good then.

That hasn’t stopped me from thrashing my brain trying to figure out the brilliant play, movie or TV idea that will launch me out of regular work and back into full-time writing. I’ve been more consistent with my blogging, as Kristen Lamb recommends, improving my web platform to support my status. It’s a growing business still, but it grows slowly, as we add titles to the TLC canon, as Steve adds new corporate jobs to our repertoire, as we look at other revenue streams. Growth is good, and if I can’t increase the rate of growth, then I’m going to have to accept that I’ll still be wearing my apron and smiling for strangers for some time to come yet. But part of me worries that I’ll be stood there when the Christmas carols are playing again, that I’ll be shivering as the February winds gust through the door with the customers, that I’m envious of the March sunshine outside as I count the minutes until the shift ends. That doesn’t sound like job satisfaction to me.

So do me a favour: If you read this, leave a comment to encourage me. Like “STOP WHINING TRASLER!”

 

 

 

*Ok, after a year, not all of them are complete strangers. And sometimes I say “Good morning!” or “Good afternoon!” and occasionally “Huh? Oh, uh…Fnh..urgh…” when they catch me by surprise. It’s not a precise science.

Taking my own advice

It’s an old cliche that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. It was one of the reasons I was nervous about handing out advice about writing plays. I knew how I wrote plays, but did that entitle me to tell other people? Fortunately, reading plays for Lazy Bee Scripts was a logical step, since I was just helping out administratively. Then I began to notice that there were some common errors in the scripts being rejected, things that seemed basic and obvious to me. If I could mention these things to the authors, they could make their plays better….

I bring up this ancient history because in this last week, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to take some advice that I hand out regularly. One of the best ways to find out if a play works is to take the draft script along to your local drama club and get it read. Note: A complete draft, folks. Make sure the story has a beginning, middle and end. I know there are playwrights out there, probably some great ones, who closet themselves with a tame theatre group and workshop a storyline, in some cases for years. That’s all well and good, but to my mind the result is a group effort, and if that playwright has any conscience at all, theirs won’t be the only name in the author position on the play cover. No, if this is YOUR idea, YOUR story, then get it written down, THEN take it to the drama club. Their job will be to tell you if the story hangs together, if the characters are real or cardboard, if it’s even interesting at all.

That last point was my greatest fear. My full length play that I began way back in January, has stalled and been re-ignited several times. I threw away the first ten pages and started again with a different central character. The basic idea remained, however, and I made it over the word count that I use to judge length in Script Apppraisals.

SMP Dramatic Society are a local group who welcomed Steve, David and myself to watch their rehearsals of Fawlty Towers back in September. They’ve performed a couple of our pantomimes, and they were eager to meet us. When I asked if they could help with a read-through, they readily accepted and so last Sunday I was welcomed to a member’s house, offered a warming drink and settled in to hear the play read.

It’s an odd feeling, because it’s rare the words are voiced as you heard them in your head, but the reading was very well done, with feeling, enthusiasm and a good deal of laughter. They pronounced the script workable, but had a list of suggestions which were all positive and worthwhile. As I’ve mentioned before, rewriting is a chore I haven’t enjoyed, but this process has made that easier, and I intend to have the new draft completed by New Year’s Day – from concept to complete inside a year!

I’m writing this entry on Christmas Eve morning – our friends in Australia have already begun to Celebrate Christmas Day, our friends in the UK are gearing up for The Night Before Christmas and our weasels are thinking about going skiing before the afternoon Nativity Play in Church. Wherever you are, whenever you’re reading this, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Hello, my name is Dim….

I was trying to remember earlier today if I’ve ever been called for a second interview for anything. I don’t think I have. My first few jobs were pretty much cut and dried in the first interview. One job I got seems a tremendous fluke now – the interviewer asked me where I saw myself in five years time. I said I wanted to be a novelist. Probably not the answer they were hoping for from someone interviewing for a post in their photocopy and archives room. Still, I held the job for nearly two years. The trouble is, you’ll have to take my word for that, since I don’t actually have a very good work record.

My first job was at the TVS (Television South) studios in Southampton. I worked there as Receptionist for the Programmes Department, and also delivered mail to and from the Programmes Dept. and the studios. Just as my year’s contract came to an end (and I was hoping to transfer to become assistant to the Assistant Floor Manager in the Studio) TVS lost their ITV franchise. The company split up and I was looking for work again. I spent time working in an off-licence (liquor store for you North Americans) but that was seasonal work. I found a job in a Solicitor’s office (the above-mentioned photocopy and archive clerk job). I stayed there for two years before going back to college for a year. Sadly, the office went on to electronic staff records in the late ’90s and my record was not one of those transferred. So, no reference from TVS, no reference from the solicitors. I spent a happy year at Portsmouth College of Art and Design, came out with a useless bit of paper and had to get another job. I took a temporary position as bar manager/receptionist at The Bell Hotel in Alresford. It lasted for two more years, during which time I got married. When I found myself a “proper” job with the Civil Service, I resigned from The Bell. I went away for the weekend, with a week’s time still to work, and when I came home I found the place had burned down. No reference from The Bell, then. Working for the Civil Service (joke: How many people work in the Civil Service? About half of them!) was great, since it meant I could be close to Mrs Dim as she guarded the peace-loving nations of the world from aggressive types, but Civil Servants work with the military, who are posted in and out of jobs, and by the time I gave up work to look after Eldest Weasel (then just a tiny weasel herself) I had already lost track of my first couple of bosses. Within a year, there was no hope of a personal reference from the Civil Service.

But please don’t think I stopped working just because I was now a full-time Weasel Wrangler. Oh no, I became a writer, and then an Editor. I edited the magazine of the RAF Families organisation, Airwaves. At first the magazine was called Corridors, but we changed the name when everyone finally agreed it was stupid. We changed it to “Airwaves”. Inspired or what? I took on more on behalf of the organisation, becoming an Airwaves Representative and Regional Manager. I went to meetings and wrote reports. Once I even went to the House of Lords and interviewed a Baroness. Oh yes. Can you guess what happens next? Well, there was a thing. All of a sudden all Airwaves Reps were told to stop doing anything. STOP! Someone hadn’t done something, or had done something they shouldn’t, and now there were legal ramifications of some awful extent, and the upshot was that Airwaves – the whole organisation – ceased to be. Shazam! Just like that. There is now the RAF Families Federation, but it’s run by a whole new group of people, none of whom know me. No reference from Airwaves.

Which pretty much brings me up to date. I joined the marvellous TLC Creative, working with Steve and David to Write the wrongs of society…heh heh heh! And I began doing some work for Lazy Bee Scripts, reading and reporting on script submissions. Both those businesses, I’m happy to say, are still around. Two references for me at least, and they must carry some weight because this Friday I shall be returning to the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer for a record THIRD interview, this time (I am assured) merely a formality, meeting the Store Manager. I’m sure you’re agog now. What position have I applied for that needs such a rigorous screening, so many searching interviews? Well, I’m going to be a Greeter. I will be standing by the door as you gracious folks enter the hallowed halls, and I’ll be happy to direct you to the aisle of your choice. Or choose one for you, if you’re up for a magical mystery tour of home hardware.

Hope to see you there.