Good luck Roy

All our best wishes go to one of our founding members Roy Chatfield. His play will be at The Lights tonight.

You still have time to see Alfred v the Danes in The Great Wessex Bake-off, the secret of modification triple-X, a starring role for an Iceberg and more, as three actors romp through Hampshire’s history. More happy than horrible histories. A family show suited for all ages.

We are looking forward to seeing you there.

It happened in Hampshire

BUW founder member Roy Chatfield finalist in inaugural Terrence Rattigan Society award.

Roy Chatfield

Roy Chatfield

Andover Playwright Roy Chatfield is one of the seventeen writers shortlisted for the inaugural Terrence Rattigan Society award. His play Going Back is an updating of Ulysses return to modern-day Central Africa.
The judges – writer Julian Fellowes, actor David Suchet, director Thea Sharrock and academic Dan Rebellato – are now reading the shortlisted entries and will announce their decision at an awards ceremony at Harrow School on 26 September 2017.
The winner receives a cash prize and a guaranteed production of at least six nights at the Sara Thorne Theatre, Broadstairs, with a rehearsed reading on offer to the runner-up.
Roy said ‘I’m delighted to be shortlisted. As the closing date for entries was last August, I’d assumed I hadn’t made it. They obviously read all the scripts thoroughly.’
The competition received 197 entries, of which seven were ineligible – always read the rules! Competitions such as this are a good way of promoting your work as they aim to discover unknown writers.

The Right Direction

I’ve posted about stage directions that are best cut. What should be left?

Whatever is necessary. This will vary from play to play. Some are more visual than others – indeed, that’s true of moments within a play. The important thing is they earn their keep. Basic directions clearly, but anything more needs to serve a purpose.

Some examples:-

  • Tells the part of the story that can’t be put into words. At the end of the first scene of Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist  a disappointed writer puts a gun to his mouth, presses the trigger and shoots himself. At the end of the play the disappointed puts a gun to his mouth, presses the trigger and…lights a cigarette. Read the second the second act of Noises Off to see this done for a whole act.
  • Replaces words. Theatre is a visual medium so actions are often more effective than words. Imagine X handing Y a document. Y reads it through and looks at X. A long pause. X proffers a pen. Y doesn’t take it at first. Eventually he snatches, signs and tosses it to X . You could have a dialogue along the lines of  – ‘I don’t want to sign this’ –  ‘Tough, you have to.’ – but silence conveys more menace.
  • Has a subtext. The character means something by his action which he isn’t saying. Here’s Harold Pinter in The  Caretaker. Ashton has invited Davies, a tramp, back to his brother’s room.Ashton: Sit down.
    (He has to find a chair as there isn’t one)
    Davies: Sit down? … I haven’t had a good sit down…
    I haven’t had a proper sit down…
    (He doesn’t sit down)

    The stage direction indicates that Davies doesn’t want to accept that he is the inferior in the relationship

  • Shows character. In the cherry Orchard one character has squeaky shoes. Why? So you’ll remember who he is  when he reappears after his first brief appearance.

Far Away

London theatre isn’t all £50+ tickets. One of the cheaper venues is the Young Vic, which this November is reviving Caryl Churchill’s Far Away with tickets at £10  and £15.

Churchill is a prolific writer and to me this results in some of her work coming across as staged ideas. At her best, though, she is one of our finest playwrights and Far Away shows her in top form.

So why should a writer make time to see it?  Entries to our Play-in-a-day competition showed many writers attracted to the surreal. The problem was tying their world to the one we know. The characters in Far Away behave naturalistically in non-naturalistic circumstances.

The structure is well worth studying. Three scenes, with a common character, Joan. First she’s a questioning child, second a milliner, third a soldier. We aren’t told what happened in between. Nor do we need to, as Churchill’s theme carries it through.

Finally the writing. Again three contrasts. An adult explaining away something a child shouldn’t have seen; Two workers banter as they design the most ridiculous hat; A family taking a break from a war. Each scene entices you in by hinting at what is happening. (How to solve the problem of writing exposition –  don’t write it). What we finally learn in Joan’s final speech describing her journey to safety that the world has gone mad.

Or is it just us?   The final lesson is how to how to end in ambiguity.


Don’ts For Writers

Browsing in Andover’s Free Bookshop – for those who don’t know it, yes, the books are free – I came across a copy of the US magazine Poetry. Among other attractions was an update of Ezra Pound’s Don’ts For Poets.

Here are three from William Logan that apply to all writers:-

  • Don’t do what all the other little Buggers are doing
  • Don’t think you don’t have to read. You read in order to steal. Read more, steal better. (I’m tempted to repeat that one, it’s so important)
  • Don’t think what you have to say is important. The way you say it is what is important. What you have to say is rubbish.

What people thought of When the Lamps went out.

Stumbled upon the Website, enthralling

Thought provoking poetry, thank you for a great evening in a wonderful building, well read by all

Very powerful, excellent selection of poems, superbly read.Discovered many new poems and poets. Well done many thanks

I didn’t realise this place was here, its very nice isn’t it

I came to this place 30 years ago and I never realised it was done up so well.

This is a lovely space.

While waiting the audience found some actual World War 1 books written in 1915

While waiting the audience found some actual World War 1 books written in 1915

Roy Chatfield, Cat Randle, Bryn Strudwick, Marion Chatfield, John Sicluna

Roy Chatfield, Cat Randle, Bryn Strudwick, Marion Chatfield, John Sicluna

September 1st Deadlines

Two submission opportunities close on 1 September.

Lion Tamers Theatre

The Liontamers Theatre Company is looking for submissions for our 2015 North West tour.

Cast Size: Strictly between 2 and 4 cast members. We can allow for doubling
however we must be strict on having no more than four actors. We will
particularly welcome scripts with strong female characters.
Technical Requirements: Again no specific limitations except the need to be suitable for a touring
environment where short get in times limit us.
Length: Full length. To appeal to venues we must have the option of including an
interval. (Bar sales, crikey!)

Please e-mail your play to

Bush Theatre Submissions Window

What Are We Looking for?
We are passionate about encountering new playwrights through our unsolicited script submissions. We receive unsolicited play submissions twice a year in dedicated windows, these open in the summer and autumn respectively.

How to Submit
Our Summer/Autumn submission window is open from 9am on 2 June 2014 and closes at 5pm on 1 September 2014. During this period, please email your proposals to and include, as a separate attachment, a fully completed cover sheet which you can download here
We are unable to receive or read unsolicited scripts that are:
• sent to us by post
• without a cover sheet
• not full-length plays (1 hour +)
• previously produced
• from writers from outside of the UK and Ireland
• sent outside our submissions windows.
• that have been previously submitted to us