Put your pen down when you have finished writing.

…….so that is what I did. When people say “how’s the book/play coming along?” I hesitate to say it is finished because writing never really finishes. But in this case I put my metaphorical pen down anyway. The Salter play is called “The Search for Wisdom”. Rather a cheesy title I think but for now it will do. It is finished because I stopped writing but there is so much more to do and say. You cannot cram fifty years of people’s lives into 90 minutes of stage time. So here I am on the search for actors, musicians, director, film maker and a place to work. And the work will be……… taking the unruly piece and tightening, screwing, pummeling and cutting ; or, as it is usually called: developing it into  a more manageable piece of theatre. Then  I can proudly take it in its new improved form and show to the NT and say “Here you are. This is the one you’ve been waiting for”.

At the moment the life of  Dr Alfred Salter and his wife Ada is an epic piece; far too long and with multiple characters and a chorus—-Oh and a wall on stage for the characters to knock down and build up and write on and paint and so forth. Quirky? Definitely. Realistic? Possibly. Watchable? Definitely. Imaginative beyond its wildest dreams.

I have sent this oeuvre to a few good friends and a couple of directors in the performance industry for their comments  and all of them say “Don’t use children!” It is a minefield of red tape and not worth the effort. But the reason for including children’s voices  is their absolute openness. The truth they tell without having to think. They say what they mean without worrying about votes and public image. They just speak. It is a tune I need in the play but there are other ways…………..

Not surprisingly, ACE have turned  down my application for funding this piece of work on the grounds that it is a high financial risk. Up to now I have been the source of the finance for three4all theatre. The productions have been financed by the participants in that the artists work for little or no pay. We (that’s the artists and myself) can no longer tolerate the no pay rule. Our work deserves a wage; it’s just a question of finding it.

A thought about the content of the last few productions from three4all theatre. They have all been about real people in real situations. Apart from one which was on stage fright which is real enough for some. The major part of writing these “biopics” is the research and that in itself is a huge project. And leads to so much story, so much guesswork, so much “how was it for them?” But I get a real picture of them all. The great thing about writing for the stage is that you can put any two people together in a room and see what happens.

And some more work coming up with Real Arts. Devising with a large company a piece entitled “Love in Four Acts”. Delightful to know that Love is something that still really matters.

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