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Wordpool: Writing a One Act Play

Grand Theatre

David Riley’s workshop was an early sell out at the Wordpool Festival.  When I arrived on Friday 5 July, a couple of minutes late, everyone was seated and ready to go.  There were familiar faces from the Blackpool Stage Write group, members of the arts groups that run at the library, actors, writers, poets and eight drama students from Blackpool Sixth Form College along with their tutor, Estelle.  We jumped straight into an analysis of our favourite dramatic moments from television, stage, and cinema.  Luther and The Returned were popular choices – both of which are currently on TV.  David went into the ways that the medium affects the nature of drama, using his short radio play, One Last Time, to illustrate the way that drama can work without any visuals, relying entirely on language and inflection for affect.  david riley

The one act play, we were told, is intended to run between about thirty minutes and an hour.  It can incorporate several scenes.  It’s a popular form in play writing as it results in short plays which are easily staged.  David Riley has previously won the Grand Words one act play competition and has had his plays staged across the north of England.  The winner in 2012 was Zoe Lamond with her play, Saturday Night at Guido’s.  The competition was launched on 11 May and the deadline is 23 August 2013.

David’s workshop was an interesting balance of lecture, discussion and entertainment.  In the second half we were treated to a staging of his short play, Great Escape, which was ably acted by members of the Stage Write group.  This centred on the story of an elderly man with dementia who is discovered by his nurse at a bus stop in Blackpool, late at night, attempting to travel to Derby.  The mixture of humour and humanity is reminiscent of Allan Bennett.  The characters are vivid and David has a keen sense for a gripping narrative which makes him an excellent playwright.  Having performed in his plays on more than one occasion, I would say that his scripts have a natural flow to them with parts which are a pleasure to wear.  The participants were transfixed by Great Escape and we all came away with lots of ideas and a clear view of what is expected from the competition.  If you have the chance to see one of David‘s plays, do take it.  Equally, if you have a one act play in you – set it to paper.  Application forms are available from any Blackpool library or by emailing [email protected].

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