I was delighted to win a place in Supernova VII recently. This festival of seven brand new one act plays is organised by the Bench theatre company and is held at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, East Street, Havant.
Yes, I didn’t know where that was either. As a fairly new playwright, I enter every competition my play scripts are eligible for, paying little heed to geography. So when I found out that out of 135 submitted scripts, mine was one of 7 selected (woop) to be produced, my first job was to find out where Havant is. And my second job was to tell the husband that we were going to have a romantic weekend away together. “Near Southampton, darling.”
Produced by Thomas Hall, this is the seventh year of the festival, and what a fantastic event it was. Brilliant direction, welcoming Front of House, dedicated crew – and that was just my husband on the drive down, (ba boom tish). The Festival ran from Wednesday to Saturday and was a sell-out every night. The night I went, the Friday, we began with ‘Pricking the sides’ by Julia Warren and directed by Jacquie Penrose. This was an excellent piece about a professor and a young student uncovering a mystery about a couple of actors and it was really beautifully staged, weaving the past and the present together seamlessly. It was so well-done, with such an interesting premise well-executed, that I began to fear for my own piece… I would love to see it again under less stressful circumstances.
My play, ‘What you are’ was up next. Directed by Gina Farmer, it was acted by Jo Langfield, Claire Lyne and Jeff Bone. It’s about the little known English author and poet, Jane Taylor and her struggles with love and leaving a legacy. There is something magical about seeing your words up there on the stage: it makes me want to laugh and cry and disappear all at the same time. I managed to stay still though, red-faced, I gripped husband’s hand as though we were watching a horror movie.
At the end, my husband said the acting was terrific.
“What about the play itself?”
“Better than I expected actually.”
During the break, I mingled among the audience, trying to hear how the plays were going down. Most of them said, “I’ll have a glass of wine, please,” which didn’t give me much insight but they all were definitely enjoying themselves. I also met the fabulous team who had put on my show, and got to embarrass myself for not recognising them in modern day clothing.
I had promised my husband, culture lover that he is, that we could go after my piece. However, he said he was having a really nice time and he wanted to see the last play, “Headless Chickens” by Colin Dowland. It was both a good and bad thing we stayed. Good because “Headless Chickens,” directed by Andrew Caple, about the strain of an Ofsted inspection was rip-roaringly funny, and bad because…well, because it was so good. The audience started laughing after about ten lines, I glared around, a little premature, non? but soon I was laughing loudly too.
“Everyone laughed so much at that,” I said resentfully afterwards. “They didn’t laugh at mine.”
“Yours wasn’t meant to be funny,” husband said. This is true.
“But it was so good.”
“They were all very good,” said husband patting my hand.
It’s fantastic that theatres are supporting new writing – it’s good for theatre, it’s good for audiences, it’s good for writers (natch), its even good for the local economy! (We stayed at the Old Dairy Farm, and it was gorgeous).
So thank you Bench Theatre for organising this. I won’t forget Havant.
Update: I’m really delighted to report that the Bench theatre are taking “What you are” to the All England Theatre Festival, at Totton (where?) in April.