News Original Playwriting
by David Emery, Winner of the Original Playwriting Competition 2020
Writing is a funny old thing for me. I can’t say that I ever truly enjoy it but unfortunately I just can’t quit. I’ve tried, many times, and in many different ways. Gradual withdrawal, cold turkey, shock therapy, leaches –none of them have succeeded in keeping me away from the biro and notepad for long.
I know that writing is a good thing. I’m not a big talker and it provides me with an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. It helps express emotion and reduce anger. I often think that if Genghis Khan or Priti Patel wrote a bit more, the world would be a much better place.
There are many books about the process of writing and all of them emphasise the importance of protected time. I decided that mine would be each evening in the shed for an hour. Surrounded by the noises of North Dorset (barking, hoots and howls – and that was just the neighbours) I would spend the first twenty minutes having an existential crisis about why I presumed to have the audacity to write, followed by twenty minutes of actual writing and the final twenty minutes deleting what I’d written. It made for a slow process.
My writing focussed upon my experiences as an NHS keyworker and, several years ago, I was lucky enough to have my first book, Full Metal Cardigan, published. The process of getting a book published nearly killed me and culminated in me being invited to do a book signing in Waterstones with no books (they’d been delivered to their Didcot branch rather than Dorchester).
After this experience I wasn’t sure what to do next. I tended to write about the people and situations I encountered through my work; the woman who had kept thirty years’ worth of deceased pets in her freezer, the homeless man who missed his emergency accommodation appointment with the council as he was skiing in Biarritz, the anger management group that had to be abandoned because its participants were felt to be too angry. Stories came thick and fast but I didn’t know how to capture them. And then, after a mix-up with dates which resulted in me seeing Pinter rather than The Pointer Sisters at my local community centre, I stumbled upon the one act play.
“This is it!” I exclaimed.
“Shush!” said the rest of the audience.
And so I went and wrote my first one act play, The Deprivation of Liberty, a comedy about a woman’s experience of being assessed under the Mental Health Act which I entered into last year’s SFD Original Playwriting Competition. And I’ll enter this years as well, along with all the other writers, struggling with our existential crises, sitting in our sheds.
Do you want to enter this year’s competition? Checkout our website for an entry form and further details