This is the fifteenth 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

January's SAST Shows

Above are Johanna Harper, Mira Vasiliu, James Keenan and Grant McDonald on stage at the Old Hairdressers on Thursday 24th January.
Thanks to everyone who came along to see our shows at the Old Hairdressers in January. Over two nights we had ten plays inspired by the songs of David Bowie presented script-in-hand. Thanks to our writers Margaret Callaghan, Alex Cox, Catriona Duggan, Jamie Graham, Felix O'Brien, Lindsay Miller, Tom Murray, Eve Nicol, Julie Rea and Elissa Soave.Thanks to our directors Karen Barclay, Alex Cox and Daniel Gee Husson. Thanks to our cast Gregory Bonnar, Hazel Ann Crawford, James Keenan, Johanna Harper, Hayleigh Meg, Grant McDonald and Mira Vasiliu. Some of the plays will be seen again later in the year.

The programmes for each night featured some of the writers commenting on why they chose the particular Bowie songs that they did. You can download the programme for each night on PDF from the show page on our website. (While we're on that here's the New York Times discussing the merits of paper vs digital programmes.)

There's news of February and March's shows later in the newsletter.
10 Things Worth Sharing
Here are ten links we've seen that are worth sharing.

Australia's ABC News spoke with five emerging novelists who discussed their 2018 breakthroughs. It includes Robert Lukins who, after writing a novel a year since he was 17, was finally published at the age of 40. He eventually realised he was frightened of failure. "What do you do if you've constructed your entire personality around the idea that you're a writer — which is something I did my entire life — and then you write that novel, and you can't do it? What if it stinks?"

The Academy section on the BBC's website has a wealth of writing advice. It contains videos, podcasts, blogs and interviews. There's tips on writing sketches, radio comedy, radio drama, sitcom, news reports and much more.

Writer Aaron Sorkin was on Marc Maron's WTF podcast recently. Early in the episode, when taking about how he adapted To Kill a Mockingbird for stage he provides a very nice quick  how-to guide to playwriting. Later in the episode when discussing his conversations with the late William Goldman he offers some screenwriting tips. Not surprisingly, for the creator of The West Wing, much of the chat is political, but in these two sections there's some gems of writing advice.

Playwright James Graham was the subject of the first episode of the new series of Imagine...the episodes is available on the BBC iPlayer until 20th February.

Literary Agents Curtis Brown tell us their top ten novel writing tips on their blog. 'When you feel you’ve come up with a character who intrigues you, or a striking opening scenario or the vague shape of a story, interrogate your ideas with ‘what if’ questions. For instance: There’s a woman sitting alone in a restaurant looking sad – what if a man comes up to her and asks if he can join her at her table? – but what if she wants to be alone for a reason – what could that reason be?'

In the Belfast Telegraph, playwright Marie Jones, talks about her new play Fly Me To The Moon, based on her mother's time in a care home. 'It's the end of the first act, and larger-than-life playwright Marie Jones has taken a break from rehearsals to talk about the latest play she's directing. Mind you, 'break' may be stretching it slightly, because quick-fire witticisms pepper the conversation and seem as natural as breathing to this Belfast queen of dark comedy.'

The Buzzword is a Glasgow-centric look at the theatre world, their latest podcast is on controversy! 

The Radio Times have a round up of 15 books we have to read before the hit the screen ranging from the hotly anticipated Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman to a superbly weird sounding Agatha Christie set in Ancient Egypt. 

Scottish Field has ten famous places in Scotland from books including The Oxford Bar in Edinburgh's New Town, central to Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus series, and Neist Point Lighthouse made famous by Virginia Woolf. 

The V and A has gathered together a great selection of articles on the history of the theatre. If you're searching for inspiration or roots, this is good place to start. 

What We've Been To See

The University of Glasgow's Creative Conversations has resumed, and we went along to the first one of the year. The hugely entertaining Stuart MacBride was in conversation with Louise Welsh. MacBride is a big personality and told a number of amusing stories including tormenting the narrators of his audiobooks and how he arrives at some of his plots. We also went along to see poet Rachael Allen read from and discuss her debut collection of poems, If you're free in Glasgow on a Monday afternoon do get yourself along to one of these. This is the current programme.

At the start of January (still trying to pretend it was Christmas) we went to see Scottish Ballet's Cinderella at The Theatre Royal. There's no avoiding saying that it's magical, because it is, what's more unexpected is a stand out comedy turn by the ugly sisters. We had no idea slapstick could be so graceful.

After that we were busy with our Bowie shows until we went to see Scottish Opera's new full-length work, Anthropocene. It has a libretto by crime writer Louise Welsh and a score by Stuart MacRae. We could pretend we know about classical music, but we don't. We liked what we heard and the plot is a mix of horror, thriller and morality play. It needs a few directorial tweaks to stop it looking silly, but we think (and hope) it will become a classic. 

Next we were off to Edinburgh's Lyceum (audiences so posh they read books in the interval) to see David Grieg's play Touching The Void. At first we feared that it was going to be all nerds explaining mountaineering to an 1980s beat, but it soon became a gripping tale of survival against the odds, and we needed that information to understand what was at stake and why anyone would take those risks. We even liked the folksinger. 

Lastly we went to the cinema to see a live streaming of David Hare's new political satire I'm Not Running. The reviews have been terrible, and we can see the flaws, it's a messy mix of jokes, personal dramas and opinions about assorted issues. One character existed purely to agree with the heroine, bring news of her ex, and then die because the ex helped draft a policy that meant it took her eight minutes to get to a hospital. The info dump dialogue gleefully packs in an unfeasible amount of back story into nearly every line, and yet, we'd still rather sit through nearly three hours of this than many shorter, sleeker shows. 

Things to Read

The Director's Craft: A Handbook for the Theatre
by Katie Mitchell
If you are or you want to be a theatre director then this should be your bible. It has everything you need to know, or think about, or anticipate, in order to direct a show. It's meticulous in advising you how to break down a text and how to organise and run a rehearsal room. It has twelve golden rules for talking to actors. And it takes you right up to the tech, dress, press night and beyond. Even if you decide that Mitchell's process is too restrictive for your style, having this as a guide will be useful. It's like learning to draw properly before you become an abstract artist. 
'Remember: it is better to rehearse a scene only twice and set up all the targets than it is to rehearse it ten times and short change how you give the instructions'. 

Twitter Writing Advice

The best of the writing related Twitter threads we saw in January.

On New Year's Day 'Try Not to Breathe' author Holly Seddon wrote about her Arnold List, which she credits for helping her become an author.

Agent Gemma Cooper provides some advice on pitching your book.

Joanne Harris features in this section often as she frequently writes top ten lists on Twitter. Here she writes about Ten Ways To Get Back On Track.

Comic book writer and former SAST writer Fraser Campbell wrote a brief thread on writing outlines. 

Things Coming Up We Recommend

Witsherface have a reading of a new work from Paula Dunn and Lenora McPherson at Calton Heritage Learning Centre, which is a lovely wee venue, on Friday 15th February. Tickets are available from Eventbrite. 

We're very excited about The Dark Carnival, a new play with songs, set in the Afterlife. It sounds like a mix of Tim Burton and The Tiger Lillies. It's at The Citizen's At The Tramway from February 19th. 

We're also excited to see some new plays by Tandem Writing Collective at The Tron. February is sold out (we have a ticket!) but June is still on sale. Snap them up while you can. 

SAST Writers Services

A few of our former writers have some things on the go that may be of interest.

Kat Harrison is providing voice reels. Here she is to tell you more.

Voice Reels! Who needs one? Offering sessions at £80 for this bargain price you will receive:

• Minimum 1hr, max 2 hr session.
• Coaching on your chosen texts and help choosing material. (You bring a selection to the session and I’ll help you pick the strongest pieces to showcase your voice)
• One polished voice reel perfect for Spotlight (if you want multiple reels for different purposes you can add these at £20 per reel)

*please note, voice reels will be edited but sound effects/music will not be added. For advert showreels you can expect to pay £150 minimum and I can point you in the right direction should you wish to make one of these as I don’t currently provide this service.

If you fancy booking in drop me a message on

Heroes Play Group
Eve Nicol runs this group, essentially a book group, but for plays. The latest edition is happening in Glasow later in February. If it sounds like your kind of thing have a look at the website and sign up to get the details.


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

Moniack Mhor Two Roads Award is for emerging writers of fiction and non-fiction. The deadline to apply is 11th February.

One Day to Play is a paid opportunity for six artists to experiment across art-forms and to generate a brand new idea. The deadline is 11th February. The details are on the National Theatre of Scotland's website.

National Theatre of Scotland has an opportunity called Starter, which offers residencies with a budget. Get in quick on this one.

Impact Arts have a vacancy for an Arts Therapist in North Ayrshire. The deadline is 15th February.

The London Library has an Emerging Writers programme. The deadline is 4th March.
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.

February's SAST Show

We're at the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh on Wednesday 13th February with a show that's a bit different from our usual. We're presenting extracts from four plays as a work-in-progress. There's also a great selection of spoken word acts. All for only £6. You can get tickets from the Gilded Balloon website.
Short Attention Span Theatre at the CCA

We'll be at the CCA on Sauchiehall Street for the Glasgow International Comedy Festival on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th of March 2019. We'll have four, slightly longer than short, plays.

Mortified by Karen Barclay – Can a person really die of embarrassment? With an eccentric relative like this one some unfortunate is about to find out... 

Delivery by Tom Brogan – A failed comedian, Jimmy Hay, runs a stand-up comedy class, but on the night of the showcase he’s left with Sharon the one pupil he’s ignored for two months.

When The Penny Drops by Catriona Duggan – A high school teacher has found the foolproof way to deal with the demands of the job. However there may be a fatal flaw to her method....

The Last Can by Chris McQueer – The story of a couple trying their best to survive and get on in a post apocalyptic Glasgow. Tempers flare though when Lou finds out John has been keeping a secret from her; John has kept the last can of Irn-Bru on Earth for himself.

Tickets are £10 (£1 booking) £8 concessions (80p booking) and available from See Tickets
We're now on Ko-fi so if you'd like to support us by donating a  few pounds we would be very grateful. We're new to it so we're working out how to use it best and what extra content we can provide there. We'll have more in future newsletters.

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 has become something of an internet celebrity this past week. She tweeted that she suffers from synesthesia and can therefore taste people's names. It has led to her appearing on Radio One, the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror to name a few. Atomic Hobo, her podcast on nuclear war can be downloaded from iTunes.

Elaine Malcolmson - Elaine's Glasgow International Comedy Festival show 'Meet Me at The Old Dead Whale Carcass' is at the State Bar on Thursday 14 March. Tickets are now on sale

Hannah Elizabeth Morton - Hannah's play 'A Work in Progress' is on as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival at the Glad Cafe on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 March.

MJ Brocklebank - MJ has an extract from his play 'Becoming Doctor Barry' in the new anthology 'We Were Always Here' now available from 404 Ink.

Chris McQueer - Chris was profiled recently in The Guardian. His short story collection HWFG is available from all good bookshops and publishers 404 Ink
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 edition will hit your inbox on 1st March.
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Short Attention Span Theatre · 2 Berl Avenue · Houston · Johnstone, Renfrewshire PA67JJ · United Kingdom

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