This is the sixteenth 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

February's SAST Show

Above are actors John Love and Kat Harrison, and spoken word performers Angie Strachan and Julie Rea. 
Thanks to everyone who came along to see our show at the Gilded Balloon Basement at the Rose Theatre in Edinburgh in February. We performed script-in-hand extracts of the four new plays which can be seen later this month at the CCA in Glasgow. We also included some spoken word performance. Thanks to our actors Hazel Ann Crawford, Kat Harrison, John Love and Grant McDonald, to our spoken word performers Calum Beaton, Tom Brogan, Chris McQueer, Julie Rea and Angie Strachan, and to our directors Karen Barclay, Tom Brogan, Catriona Duggan and Max Chase. This was the first time we've added spoken word to the bill, and the reception suggested that we should do so again.

There's more information about our March shows further down the page.
10 Things Worth Sharing
Here are ten links we've seen that are worth sharing.

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is open for submissions until 5th June. Their website is running a ten week playwriting toolkit. Have a look and keep checking back. "If you’re a first time writer or thinking of making a move from poetry or prose this brand new toolkit has some great advice on how to get your play started. Every Friday, here on this site, a new topic will be explored by professional playwrights. Each week builds on the previous weeks with illustrative extracts from the writers own work, and further reading and exercises suggested from the Bruntwood Prize site archives."

Observer (an American arts website, not a British Sunday newspaper) has an interesting article on swearwords in play titles. "For McCollum, who produced Rent and Avenue Q, and invested in Shopping and Fucking, that’s key. “That’s the thing about language, it’s all about the intent. Theater is an art form in which words matter,” he told Observer. “It’s a place to explore how words spark emotional feelings.” Use fuck in the title because it resonates thematically or strikes the right emotional chord, that works, he said. But if it’s simply to titillate? Not so much." 

The Scriptnotes podcast featured an in-depth look at the latest episode of The Simpsons 'The Clown Stays in the Picture' where writer Matt Selman went into how the episode was conceived and written. He also tweeted about it as it aired. "Matt: Well, the process that I use at The Simpsons is one of like vast creative luxury, but it is so comfortable to me at this point that I don’t know any other way to do it. So this began – and I hope this is a useful tidbit for writers and creators and thinkers out there. It began as a goofy room-run of silliness that wasn’t related to what we were working on at the time. It was just like the idea if Krusty had been in some terrible movie in the ‘80s, like Three Amigos that had kind of been disavowed. But what was the back – the making of that movie Three Amigos had insane making of back story. And so we were just riffing on kind of a crazy cocaine-fueled adventure that he would have had making a bad movie in Mexico. And I believe there was a climax in which all of the cocaine was poured into a river and the fish got so whacked-out on drugs that you could run across the fish and escape the bad guys."

Playwright Oliver Emanuel spoke to ALCS (Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society) about how he makes his living writing. “The thing that’s sold my work has been the quality of my ideas. I think the marketplace for playwrights has changed in recent years: in the 1990s and early 2000s, you got commissioned because you’d written a play and people liked you. But now you get commissioned much more on the basis of your ideas than on your CV.” 

American Theatre featured New York Times comedy columnist and theatre critic Jason Zinoman's speech at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C where he talked about comedy at the theatre. "TV was long seen as the enemy of theatre. A common criticism you would often hear of a play is that it was too much like a sitcom. But TV was always fundamentally different than theatre. Comedy, on the other hand, shares a lot. It is a live art form, and the same romantic defenses you often hear of theatre you can also hear from comics—the beauty of its ephemerality, the present-tense nature of the form in a time when everyone is on screens. People who once went into the theatre are now going into comedy."

The BBC has fantastic short video explaining 'Hauntology' - a weird combination of horror folklore, pop culture nostalgia and political angst. To explore it further you should check out the work of Ghost Box, Scarfolk and the BFI's starter guide to folk horror.  

If folklore is, or has become, your thing, you can learn more every Thursday by following the hashtag #FolkloreThursday on twitter, and you can also read the team's blog which has articles on everything from giants to ghosts to wife selling. 

In the Guardian Francesca Simon writes about turning her YA novel about the goddess Hel into an opera. 'It all started in 2013 (it’s true, opera takes for ever) when I was introduced to John Fulljames, then associate director of the Royal Opera House, at the interval of Die Fledermaus at the ENO. My beloved dog had died that day, and I was not feeling sociable. But I am forever grateful I did decide to go out that night, because John liked my Horrid Henry books and said I should contact him if I ever had an idea for an opera. I remember thinking, “Yeah, right.” I knew almost nothing about opera, and wasn’t a fan. Another bit of luck was that I knew the composer, Gavin Higgins, through a mutual friend. I loved his music, its harshness and energy and violence, but also its lyrical, emotional and theatrical qualities. I gave him my manuscript in 2015 and, miraculously, our “Wagner for teens” was commissioned'.

Also in The Guardian is an in-depth look at the life and career of Andre Previn, the great conductor and musician, most famous for his film work, who died at the end of February. 

And this spectacular look at the work of the theatre photographer, Ivan Kyncl

What We've Been To See

David Keenan at Mono
Graeme Macrae Burnet and Rupert Thomson at Waterstones
The Dark Carnival
Berkoff's Women


At the start of the month we went to see Rebus: Long Shadows at The Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Its whodunit potential was limited by only having 2 actors (one playing 5 roles which might have seen him murdering himself) who could realistically have been guilty, so it became a satirical, and poignant character study about the impact of crime instead. 
Then we were at The Tron, Glasgow, to see 6 new pieces from Tandem Writing Collective, who are the very talented, Amy Hawes, Mhairi Quinn and Jennifer Adams, with fantastic music provided by Aaron McGregor, Marianne McGregor and David Munn. 

Some meh reviews have dogged Trial By Laughter, at The Kings, perhaps because they were expecting a riotous farce instead of a gentle, but funny, historical drama exploring one of the key moments in the struggle for press freedom. We highly recommend it. We were lucky enough to have been invited to the press night, where we also saw a post show Q & A with writers Ian Hislop and Nick Newman. Hislop in particular told some entertaining tales of his many legal battles with Private Eye.
Gigantic Lying Mouth, written and performed by Kevin P Gilday, at The Tron, combined poems with some very funny lowkey dialogue to take us on a journey through Kevin's Judgement Day. We loved it. 

Colonel Mustard and The Big Bad Wolf was an anarchic children's show work-in-progress (though it didn't feel like that) at The Tron. Based around the band's songs they reinterpret three fairy tales about wolves to make them 'nicer' but more satisfyingly disgusting and if you don't spend the rest of the week singing 'bouncy ball, oh bouncy ball, oh bouncy, boing-boing' then you weren't there. 

Berkoff's Women, also at The Tron, was a one-woman hurtle through the female characters of Steven Berkoff, performed by Linda Marlowe. Linda was so mesmerizing, so intense, so glamorous, vulnerable and sincere, that it didn't matter that she occasionally forgot her lines or worried about the harshness of the material and became apologetic, all that mattered was these stories of rage, pain, loneliness, love, sex, power, cruelty and regret. We believed every word. 

We were at Mono to see David Keenan launch his new novel 'For The Good Times.' With a number of names from Glasgow's literature, comedy and music scene in the audience it was a hot ticket. Always an interesting speaker the chat went from cave drawings to Perry Como to Lou Reed to the penny falls in Rothesay. Support came from SAST's own Chris McQueer.

We saw Graeme Macrae Burnet and Rupert Thomson in conversation at Waterstones, discussing their recent novels. It was an entertaining chat as they talked about their development process, research, translation and the use of photographs to spark a written work.
The Dark Carnival, at The Citizen's (at The Tramway) is another play based around a band's songs. It looked beautiful. The songs were good. But the story was unfocused. Its narrator (who never stops telling, even when there are things showing) inducts us into an afterlife that's something to do with resisting austerity, Trump, bourgeois morality, being forgotten, and lies about God but that gets buried beneath sugary plots about lost love, homophobia, suicide, a dead child, ghost-hunting, and an old lady who tricked the devil into giving her booze. Less would be more. 

Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Along with a number of other writers we were up at Pitlochry Festival Theatre in the middle of the month, as they opened up their Writers Room. Artistic Drector Elizabeth Newman led a tour of the theatre, including the workshop where all the sets are made, their writers rooms, rehearsal space and the miles of garden and woodland that surround the theatre.

We were then treated to a writing workshop by Nicola McCartney. It was an inspiring day and everyone left keen and eager to return.

Photos below are by Catriona Duggan, Elizabeth Newman and Tom Brogan.

Things to Read

So You Want To Be A Playwright
by Tim Fountain
Writers have two problems. The first is spiritual - what to write, and why to write it - and that can take half your life to pin down. The second is technical, which is far easier to solve. Tim Fountain's book is a simple, short, to the point, nuts and bolts, insight into the technical aspects of writing for the stage, and the business that goes with it. As with most writing guides it covers structure and how to sell the end product, but there's something deeply comforting about its practicality and plainness. It feels like a career talk with a friend over coffee. And it's quietness is a welcome addition to a market that often reaches too far for a unique selling point. 

Twitter Writing Chat

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

Playwright Anya Reiss sparked a debate when she tweeted that actors should just say the lines.

Novelist Claire McGowan provided an insight into how she survives financially after quitting her full-time job to focus on writing.

Star Trek: Discovery staff writer Bo Yeon Kim tweeted a photo of her notebook where she had written a list of rules for being a good staff writer.

'Rookie Screenwriter' Jim Bond asked a question about 'directing on the page'. A number of screenwriters including Rian Johnson and Christopher McQuarrie replied.

Another of those replying was Brian Koppleman here he outlines how he and his partner write together. He also put their Rounders screenplay online.

A brief thread this one, but worth looking at as it's some photographs from Inside the Arthur Miller Archive at the Harry Ransom Center.

Author Eric Beetner on still writing, still publishing and keeping going.

Things Coming Up We Recommend

March is the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, and while we have our own show on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th of March that we'd encourage you to come and see, there's plenty of other good stuff on throughout the month.

Scott Agnew is all over the GICF. He's at Blackfriars Basement on Thursday 14th March at 9.15pm with Filth. His Afternoon Blether is at Spoon Cafe on Sundays 17th and 24th March at 2pm. Finally his Work in Progress show is at 9.30pm in the State Bar on Saturday 30th March.

Paul McDaniel is at The State Bar with Now That’s What I Paul McDaniel on Thursday 14th March at 8pm.

Steven Dick's play The Scurvy Ridden Whale Men is part of Play, Pie and a Pint at Oran Mor from 18th to 23rd March. Steven's one of the sharpest and funniest writers around. It's sure to be a hoot.

Sonnet Youth are at Drygate on Wednesday 20th March with the best spoken word in town.

Also on Wednesday 20th March is Keir McAllister's play The Bench at Websters.

Lubna Kerr's show Aunty Jee: The Asian Ellen DeGenres is at The State Bar on Friday 22nd March.

Marjolein Robertson has her show Lonely Marjolein’s Guide To Shetland at Jest Below @ Mango on Saturday 23rd March.

Rachel Jackson is at Glasgow comedy institution Blackfriars Basement on Sunday 24th March with Slutty Little Goldfish.

You might just have time to get a ticket for the extra night added to Stephen Buchannan's Sheltered (WIP) on Sunday 24th March after the first night sold out.

Libby McArthur's one woman show In For a Penny is at Websters 2 on Thursday 28th, Friday 29th and Sunday 31st March.

Johnny Donahoe's show Inheritance is at ARG at the Vacant Space at 2pm on Sunday 31st March.

In the evening Eleanor Morton has a Work in Progress at ARG at the Vacant Space on 31st March.

Outwith the Comedy Festival there's a few other shows to see in March.

Rapture Theatre are heading out on the latest of their lunchtime shows this month. They're taking The Browning Version to a number of towns from 4th to 10th March. Details are at their website.

Emma Findlay has written Much Taboo About Nothing which tackles the taboo of abortion through the eyes of Lucy and Jordan, a young Scottish couple who are very much “in love” until Lucy discovers that she is pregnant. Directed by SAST's own Mairi Davidson is stars Emma and Mark McMinn. It plays at the Rum Shack in Glasgow's Southside on Wednesday 20th March (at 4pm) and Thusrday 21st March (at 7.30pm). Tickets are available from Tickets Ignite.
Much Taboo About Nothing


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

Aberdeen Performing Arts are looking for submissions for their Spring Awakenings Scratch Night on 4th April. The deadline is 11th March.

In Motion Theatre Company have a number of programmes running in the next few weeks and months. Have a look at their website for what's on.

The Scottish Book Trust are currently looking for a Media Officer. The closing date is 21st March.

Cultural Enterprise Office are looking for Facilitators based in Dumfries and Galloway.

Into Film are recruiting a Programme Delivery Officer based in Edinburgh.

National Theatre of Scotland are looking for a Website and Content Assistant. Closing date is 25th 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.

March's SAST Show

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

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.

Chris McQueer - Chris was profiled recently in The Guardian. His short story collection HWFG is available from all good bookshops and publishers 404 Ink

Julie McDowall - Julie's synesthesia is leading to her becoming something approaching a natural treasure. She's now working with Unbound to provide some name tasting services. Their collaboration was featured in The Times 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. She can also be seen in series two of Soft Border Patrol which you can find on the BBC iPlayer.

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. Hannah's play was originally performed with us and we're thrilled that it has had further runs in an expanded format.

Jane Sunderland - Jane is taking a play she originally did with us to both the West End Festival in Glasgow and the Edinburgh Fringe. The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth is a monologue performed by SAST regular Gillian Massey. We're delighted that another play that came through us is having a longer life. There is a Crowdfunder campaign to support the show. It runs for another five days. Please do have a look.

MJ Brocklebank - MJ has an extract from his play 'Becoming Doctor Barry', which was also performed with us in short form, in the new anthology 'We Were Always Here' now available from 404 Ink.
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.
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 April.
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Short Attention Span Theatre · 2 Berl Avenue · Houston · Johnstone, Renfrewshire PA67JJ · United Kingdom

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