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November 4 2015, News Original Plawriting
Original Playwriting Coordinator Pam Hillier

Original Playwriting Coordinator Pam Hillier

One of the thrills of theatre is coming across something original and refreshing. Which is why the SFD’s Original Playwriting Competition is one of the highlights of the SFD year. Every year playwrights from across the county – and indeed elsewhere in the South West – come up with original and creative writing, producing a range of varied and exciting one-act plays. Some plays are suitable for youth groups, some need an older cast; some plays are two-handers, some have a huge cast; some are light and witty, some are deep and thought-provoking. Something, in short, for everyone.

Competition Coordinator Pam Hillier and her team have read through all of this year’s thirteen entries and come up with a short list of six. She said, “Entries were invited from authors living anywhere in the South-west of England. The reader panel have now reviewed all the scripts and come up with a shortlist, from which a winner, one highly commended runner-up and four commended places have been agreed. The author of the winning script will be awarded a cash prize of £100 and a silver trophy; the highly-commended runner-up will receive a cash prize of £25 and a certificate; the four commended places will receive a certificate. The awards will take place at the County Drama Festival in March 2016.”

But the competition doesn’t end there…
If you write a play, you want it to be performed and up to three of the shortlisted scripts will have that chance at the County Drama Festival. Performance of a play relies on a director, cast and backstage crew, so to all directors reading this, please consider taking on one of these scripts with your group ~ it’s a real opportunity to turn an original work into a memorable production, worthy of a world première and this year there are some cracking parts for young actors. No royalties are payable for the performance in the County Drama Festival and the SFD will offer £100 towards expenses of mounting the production.

Synopses of the shortlisted scripts are shown below and pdfs are provided on our website by kind permission of the authors. The scripts may be read but not used for performance without the express permission of the author. In the first instance, if you are considering producing one of the scripts for entry in the County Drama Festival next year, please contact the OPC co-ordinator, Pam Hillier by email (pmhillier@outlook.com ).

The 2015 Shortlist

Tommo and Me
by Les Clarke
Cast: Matt Foreman (late thirties/early forties), Tommo (almost 17 with Autistic Spectrum Disorder), Miss Gregson (late thirties/early forties Social Worker)
Setting: the living room of Matt’s flat
Matt has been looking after Tommo since his parents were involved in a serious car crash. Tommo’s father died in the crash and the subsequent shock of losing her husband, trying to cope with Tommo on her own whilst recovering from her own injuries, caused Tommo’s mother to have a breakdown and she is currently receiving help at a psychiatric hospital. Matt has known Tommo all his life and Tommo moved into his flat with him after the accident. Matt cares for him and has devised routines to help Tommo get through the days and nights.
Estimated Running Time: 35/40 minutes

Cyborg with Rosie
by Antony Bray
Cast: Rosie Comstock (middle-aged, reclusive cybernetics genius), Proto/Ken (middle-aged man who lives as a dog), Elle Vernon (twenties), Stu Vernon (twenties), Queenie (housemaid in her sixties/seventies), Louise (twenties, Rosie’s long-lost daughter)
Setting: the home of Rosie Comstock on the day she has been persuaded by a young entrepreneur to give a story for her new magazine, Cyber Insider
Rosie is a middle-aged recluse who was a cybernetics wunderkind but who retreated from public life to work on experiments within the lab in her house. Some time ago there was an attempted burglary at the house which resulted in Rosie turning her house into a fortress. Proto, who lives with Rosie, is a dogman, one of Rosie’s failed experiments; he believes he is the father of Rosie’s daughter. Queenie is Rosie’s sarcastic, faithful, old family retainer. When Elle, Stu and Louise turn up, each with their own agenda, there is a series of one-upmanship reveals, but the ultimate one is the final twist…
Estimated Running Time: 45 minutes

Gruffy Ground
by Don Harrison
Cast: Millie (despatch rider, mid-thirties), Tom (reclusive gardener, forty-plus), Rufus (fiction writer, thirties (and twenties)), Amanda (trainee therapist, thirties (and twenties))
Setting: an isolated homestead in the Mendip Hills (present day plus flashback sequences)
Tom has turned the rough land around his home into something productive. But why has he chosen to live behind a high fence? Rufus, who had briefly known Tom in the past, returns and is surprised at what he finds. He tries to probe Tom’s hidden secret but without success. Rufus’ former girlfriend, Amanda, also tries to draw Tom out and she also fails. But the local despatch rider, Millie, succeeds where the others have failed. Tom presents her with a basket of his plums – and more – as a gift for the friend she has told him about. Could this be the beginning of the end of his isolation?
Estimated Running Time: 30/35 minutes

The Dragon, The Witch and The Suitcase
by Lydia Brimble
Cast: Joseph (mid-fifties), Dragon, Witch, Dorothy (seventies), Katie (mid-thirties), Charlie (young boy), Nurse
Setting: a hospital waiting area (present day)
A man sitting in a hospital waiting area has his memory jogged by a chance meeting with another patient. Left alone, he lets his imagination run wild as he reflects on his childhood and brings to life the favourite toys he played with as a boy.
Estimated Running Time: 35 minutes

We Totally Worship Felix Bell!
by Karen Gunning
Cast: Martha Gibbs (14 to 18), Grace Marshall (14 to 18), Tyler King (8 to 12), Emma King (late thirties, Tyler’s mother), Dean Babb (19, Felix Bell tribute act), Lynne Bell (late forties, Felix’s mother)
Setting: urban street in front of garden wall
Felix Bell is a world-famous pop star. Teenage fans Grace and Martha meet outside his childhood home on his 21st birthday, hoping he’ll visit. Grace has brought her half-sister Tyler along on the pilgrimage. When Felix’s mother arrives, she tells the girls that Felix won’t be coming home but they continue to wait, and swop more and more extreme fantasies about their idol. Then Dean turns up – a rather drunk Felix Bell tribute act. And finally Emma arrives in her wedding dress, with a bridesmaid dress for Tyler to wear…
Estimated Running Time: 35 minutes

A Flare for Business
by Sam Allen
Cast: Barclay (successful billionaire), Saskia (his wife), Hermione (friend of Barclay and Saskia), Rupert (Hermione’s husband), Marcus (Greek restaurant owner)
Setting: a rooftop restaurant in Lindos, Rhodes, one night and the following morning
Intense and unprecedented solar activity has produced spectacular aurorae that can be seen worldwide. Barclay and his wife, Saskia, have invited two friends to dine with them in the open air to witness what is predicted to be the most spectacular evening created by a massive solar flare. Rupert, down on his luck and drinking heavily, has agreed to sell his only asset – the family home – to Barclay and he hands over the deeds. A pre-nuptial agreement has excluded his wife, Hermione, from having any financial stake in the house.
In the morning, it becomes apparent that the massive solar flare has wiped out the world’s digital memory. Rupert becomes increasingly frustrated that he has passed across his only asset but now, it seems there will be no electronic transfer of money to pay for it. In his anger, Rupert becomes violent but meets with an accident…
Estimated Running Time: 30 minutes