‘Past Glories’; Day 1

A while ago, I can’t remember exactly when … hang on …

** trawls through diary **

… April 5, fact fans … I attended a meeting. At said meeting I was finalised as one of four writers commissioned by The People’s Theatre to write a play for its forthcoming Centenary Season.

The writers – myself, Tony Gannie, Philip Meeks and Sue Saunders – all have a connection (either past or present) with the People’s, which is one of the largest and longest established non-professional theatre’s in the country. 100 years young in 2011, the Theatre is lining up a celebratory season of events, including a fortnight of new writing in its Studio Upstairs venue.

I can’t remember exactly when involvement with the People’s began. I’m guessing 2004 because I originally joined with an eye on The People’s Play Award. This is a biannual competition run in conjunction with New Writing North to discover and develop new writers for theatre.

As ever my timing was impeccable … I had just missed the deadline for submissions. But. I was there now so why not kick about til the next one rolled around. You don’t have to be a member of the People’s to enter for the PPA, but I love theatre and all things theatre-y so this was a chance to pitch in and get involved, something I hadn’t done since Uni.

I did some backstage work (my table moving in A View From the Bridge is still talked about … by me); got a gig as Second Asst. Director; helped out with publicity matters; and first ventured on to the stage when cast as third hobo on the left in Little Shop of Horrors! So, I kept busy.

Time ticked by – I wore a wig in a Panto that made me look like Pat Sharp – and before you could say “Fun House!” it was time for submissions for the 2006 PPA.

My play My Mam Was An Ice-Cream Blonde was primed and ready – I wasn’t going to miss that deadline date again.

I am delighted to say that I won and the play was produced for a week in May 2006 in The Studio Upstairs, with a fantastic director, cast and crew. I made some fabulous friends during the process and since, and have kept up my involvement with the People’s to this day.

So, when I was asked to be one of the writers for the Centenary new writing season I was delighted. The brief is as vast as it is constricting – each of us must write a one-act play on the theme of Past Glories, with a cast of no more than four, all women.

At the time of the April meeting I had an idea and a bit of a script I’d started dabbling with at the beginning of the year. With work and development it could work for the brief.

What I didn’t bank on was that very script idea being short listed for the Nick Darke Award, something I had entered it in for and then promptly forgot about as other work and deadlines took over. So, my idea was in limbo and – while excited to be short listed for the NDA – I was a bit scared if it was selected, I’d have to come up with another brand new idea for Past Glories and have two plays to write for September. It never rains but it pours, etc …

So, it was with mixed feelings I found out a few weeks ago I did not win the NDA. Close but no cigar.

So, I have my broad idea. I have an opening few pages. I have three possible titles.

Now, to stop writing this and get on with writing that …