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Welcome

This is the ninth edition of the monthly newsletter from Short Attention Span Theatre. It features news about our shows, opportunities for writers and creatives that we've seen, plus plugs for other shows and anything else of interest. If you have anything appropriate you'd like us to include for future drop us a line at info@shortattentionspantheatre.co.uk
Gregory Bonnar and Mairi Davidson rehearsing Pigeon by Rachelle Atalla
Kat Harrison rehearsing Slippers in the Fridge by Tom Brogan

September's SAST Shows

We have three shows in September. We're at the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow on the 5th and 6th, and in Edinburgh at the Gilded Balloon Basement Theatre on the 26th. You can buy tickets for Glasgow from See Tickets. Tickets for the Edinburgh show can be bought from the Gilded Balloon's website. The plays and writers are:

The Sheets by Derek Banner. Actress Amy is home alone when her playwright husband Stephen comes home unexpectedly. Or is she?

Pigeon by Rachelle Atalla. Alice is about to have a baby but her partner Jack is struggling to contemplate life as a family of three. When a pigeon lies wounded in their garden tensions questions begin to surface. Has their age gap always been a problem? Does Jack even want the baby? And what should they do about the dying pigeon?

Slippers in the Fridge by Tom Brogan. Heather's mother is stuck in hospital. Heather's not sad. She's angry.

Platform Two by Kevin Blackwell. A woman finds herself stranded on a lonely railway platform with a strange man, and isn't sure if he's trying to help her, or lead her into greater danger....

Millionaire's Shortbread by Alison Gray. The humorous story of a lady who wants a boiler, who loves to bake, and who has a distinct and perhaps unusual sense of right and wrong.

Dead Vegetable by Thomas Laycock. Theodore Huxley has made a terrible mistake. Now he has mere minutes to live, that is, if he ever really lived at all or is even alive in the first place.
10 Things Worth Sharing
 
Here are ten links we've seen that are worth sharing.

The National Theatre Discover's YouTube channel is an amazing resource full of theatre talks and performances. One of our favourites is Alan Bennett reading from Keeping On Keeping On. There's plenty on it to look through.

The theatre world lost Neil Simon this month. This is his obituary from the New York Times, who also ran this video in tribute to him.

Here's a nice Twitter thread of links to free short stories by a number of Irish writers including Kevin Barry, Colin Barrett, Sara Baume, Paul McVeigh and Lucy Caldwell.

Time Out has it's Top Ten Theatre Openings for this month including Foxfinder at Covent Garden and Sylvia at Southwark.

The New York Post  has some gossipy anecdotes about Neil Simon's flop musical The Goodbye Girl, which should remind us never to give up because everyone has disasters and failures. 

National Public Radio plays back an interview with Neil Simon from 1996, where he talks about his childhood, his craft, and his struggle to find balance in his life. 

And The New Yorker pays an in depth tribute to his life and work. 'Simon said that when he started writing he was warned by people like Lillian Hellman not to mix comedy with drama. “But my theory was, if it’s mixed in life, why can’t you do it in a play?” he said. The characters in his works face challenges worthy of any tragedy: Evy Meara (“The Gingerbread Lady”) struggles with alcoholism; Willie Clark (“The Sunshine Boys”) with desolation and revenge; Felix Ungar (“The Odd Couple”) with loneliness; Mel Edison (“The Prisoner of Second Avenue”) with disillusion and unfulfillment. “I find that what is most poignant is often most funny,” Simon said. When he was writing his masterpiece “The Odd Couple”—which was turned into a movie and a TV series that ran from 1970 to 1975—Simon thought it was “a grim, dark play about two lonely men” that “would probably be the end of my career.”'

The Evening Standard has listed its Top New Writing Theatres including The Vaults, Theatre503 and The Bush. 

The Stage writes about Harold Pinter's one-act plays, where he found his unique voice. 'Talking to drama students in 1962, Pinter described how he approached the art of playwriting: “I never plan a play, it’s a true voyage of discovery. I let the words happen. I usually begin a play in quite a simple manner, find a couple of characters in a particular context, throw them together and listen to what they say, keeping my nose to the ground.”'

BBC Writersroom has an interview with Jed Mercurio, creator of Bodyguard, a show that's currently causing a sensation. 'it was just something that started out of the desire to do something that was set in the political world and find a different way into that. With my experience on Line of Duty I was kind of aware of the different specialisations within the police and so the idea of the specialist protection unit which looks after politicians, and diplomats and Royalty, felt like a really good area in which to set the story.' 
Nina's Got News by Frank Skinner
A Fortunate Man

What We've Been To See

August means Edinburgh, and we were there several times during the month.

We started the festival with Nina's Got News by Frank Skinner. This play has taken a fair slating in the press and not without good cause. It felt very much like a sketch that had been stretched out to an hour. Although some very big things seem to occur to the characters - offstage - it never really means anything onstage. A very good bit on the TV show Countdown was the only thing that really put a smile on our faces. On the day we were there Skinner was sat in the back row scribbling notes, so we can only assume it improved over the run. But then again...

Far better was stand-up Maisie Adam's show Vague at the Gilded Balloon. Maisie is the kind of performer who looks like she's having fun onstage displaying an eagerness to tell you stories, and that kind of enthusiasm is hugely infectious. She had the packed room enthralled with stories of her life in the village Panel, in Yorkshire. Maisie went on to be nominated for Best Newcomer in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Just before we headed East we were back at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for Tiny Dynamite by Abi Morgan, a brilliant show, that repeats the same scene over and over, revealing more each time, until it traps its characters in their inevitable fate. 

Back on the fringe we went to see a A Work In Progress, At The Gilded Balloon Basement Theatre, a play that had its beginnings in Short Attention Span and is now a 50 minute insightful comedy-drama about struggling millennial actors and porpoises in space. 

Then it was on to a A Fortunate Man at Summerhall, where most of the edgiest new work is shown. This show is based on the book by John Berger, a meditation on the work of GPs, what they bring to their patients, and what their work does to them. It also covers the writing of the book, and the sad suicide of the doctor it featured. Despite some striking stage pictures, it never really stopped being the lecture it was pretending to be. 

Early Birds at PQA Venues was a cantor through the origins of the hit sitcom Birds of a Feather, from the initial idea, to getting the female cast together, to filming the first episodes. It was funny, I loved the young actors, and it felt as if Marks and Gran had decided to answer questions they're used to being asked in the form of a stage play. Part of me hopes they develop it into a musical about struggling actresses getting their biggest breaks. 

We went along to a Q & A with Early Birds' writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran. Although there were only around half a dozen people in the room there was an enjoyable discussion as the two comedy legends discussed what it was like to write for Rik Mayall, why they decided to go back to the Birds of a Feather characters and getting their break writing for Frankie Howerd.

We also hit the Edinburgh Book Festival, which is an oasis of tea and chat in a desert of frantic flyering and emoting, to see 90s 'rock'? legend Brett Anderson talk about his memoir Coal Black Mornings. He's mellowed over the years, but he's still the same squirming mess of class shame, tatty disappointment, romantic obsession and quixotic ambition. It was a joy.  

We finished August at The League of Gentlemen Live in Glasgow, a sketch show where all the monstrous needs and drives that humans can have come spurting through every social convention, mundane location or ideological straight-jacket created to repress them. The League have never quite forgiven the well-meaning Southern liberal/left for sympathetically 'othering' the North of England and their revenge is disgustingly hilarious to watch. 'Issues, issues, issues', as Oliver Plimsolls would say. 

Things to Read


 
Why Will No One Publish My Novel? by Fay Weldon
 
This newly published writing guide is probably the most eccentric one that we've come across. It is VERY Fay Weldon, and if you want Fay as a sort of warmly harsh guardian angel advising you on material, and editing, and submitting, then this is a focus-finding must. It boils down to knowing what you want to say - she advises having a one sentence premise that you spend the entire book dedicatedly proving to be true, something like Love Conquers All (to take an obvious example) - and then saying it as elegantly as possible. 

It's a very slight book, but I think the fortitude it imparts is worth the price, especially if you're the kind of writer who easily loses heart. Fay thinks everything is solvable with a bit of work. 

Things Coming Up We Recommend


Tacita Dean's exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery explores the artist’s approaches to theatre, performance and narrative. It's on until 30th September.

If you're in Nairn or nearby we recommend going to see Poet of the Impossible by Lorenzo Novani. Spoken word, poetry and magic it should be a show well worth seeing.

A Play, A Pie and A Pint has started its Autumn season of new lunchtime plays. As ever it's a gloriously unpredictable mix of comedies, dramas and plays with music. 

The Tron is showing Scotties, about a young man in modern day Glasgow finding a connection with the Irish victims of a bothy fire through the Gaelic language. 

The Traverse has Manpower, a show about the working man and how his life has changed in the past forty years. 

And The Citizens has its first production in it's new temporary base at The Tramway, Cyrano de Bergerac, updating the story to modern Scotland. 
 
Brian Ferguson as Cyrano de Bergerac

Opportunities

The following are creative opportunities we've noticed over the last few weeks.

The Tron are accepting submissions for their Mayfesto mini-festival. They're looking for a Resident Director and a Resident Writer. Hit up their website for more information.

Assembly Roxy are seeking proposals for live performances from theatre, dance, comedy, spoken word, performance art and inter-disciplinary artists based in Scotland. The deadline is Sunday 2nd September, so you don't have much time.

The Royal Lyceum are looking for a Box Office Assistant.
Third-party opportunities disclaimer

Please note that third party listings and links to third party websites listed on this website are provided solely for your convenience and not as an endorsement by Short Attention Span Theatre. We are not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and make no representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party websites. Additionally, Short Attention Span Theatre does not provide or make any representation as to the quality or nature of any of the third party opportunities or services published on this website, or any other representation, warranty or guaranty. Any such undertaking, representation, warranty or guaranty would be furnished solely by the provider of such third-party opportunity or services, under the terms agreed to by such provider.

What Our Previous Writers Are Doing Now

Here you'll find what some of the writers of our previous shows have been doing and what they have coming up in the next month or so.

Julie McDowall - Julie's Atomic Hobo podcast is updated weekly and focuses on how Britain prepared for nuclear war.

Fraser Campbell - Fraser's new comic 'The Edge Off' can now be purchased through Cabal Comics, You can also buy print or digital copies of issues 1 & 2 of Alex Automatic, as well as Fraser's first comic Sleeping Dogs. Alex Automatic #3 has just finished a successful Kickstarter. Look out for that soon.

Chris McQueer - The last remaining print copies of Chris's novella 'Leathered' can be found in Waterstones in Glasgow on Argyle Street and Sauchiehall Street. If you prefer you can snap it up on Kindle for £4.00. Chris's debut short story collection 'Hings' is available from all good bookshops and online from publishers 404 Ink. There's also a Hings audiobook. Chris features in this video from BBC's The Social talking about his writing career.

Julie Rea - Julie has a short story in With Their Best Clothes On New Writing Scotland 36. Julie will be appearing at the launch night at Waterstones on Byres Road on Wednesday 5th September at 7.30.
Thanks for reading. If you believe this newsletter might interest others, we'd love for you to tell your friends or share it with them. Our next newsletter will hit your inbox on 1st of October. 
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Short Attention Span Theatre · 2 Berl Avenue · Houston · Johnstone, Renfrewshire PA67JJ · United Kingdom

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