This is the eighteenth edition of the monthly newsletter from Short Attention Span Theatre. Apologies, as it's a day late.  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

April's SAST Show

Above are actors Rachel Flynn, Gregory Bonnar, Hazel Ann Crawford and James Keenan in Julie Rea's John, I'm Only Dancing; Grant McDonald and Rachel Flynn in Jamie Graham's Everyone Says 'Hi'; Grant McDonald and Mira Vasiliu in Tom Murray's Lady Grinning Soul, and James Keenan and Hazel Ann Crawford in Margaret Callaghan's Modern Love.
Thanks to everyone who came along to see our David Bowie inspired show at the Gilded Balloon Basement Theatre in Edinburgh in April.

Thanks to our actors Gregory Bonnar, Hazel Ann Crawford, Rachel Flynn, James Keenan, Grant McDonald and Mira Vasillu and to our writers Margaret Callaghan, Catriona Duggan, Tom Murray, Jamie Graham, Julie Rea and Elissa Soave to our directors Karen Barclay and Daniel Gee Husson, to our man on the sound Daniel Buckley, and to the staff of the Gilded Balloon for having us there.

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

In the Irish Times Adrian Duncan writes about getting his novel to print, rejection and writing courses. "After about three years I began submitting stories to the Dublin Review, and though most of them were at first rejected, each one was posted back to me with a letter from the editor, Brendan Barrington, outlining what he thought did and did not work, but that he looked forward to further submissions. This kind or constructive criticism helps an emerging writer greatly. The role of a good literary publisher, I think, is not only to publish good writing, but to take seriously the rejection of promising writing too."

Famous female writers and directors can't get work at the National Theatre – so what hope do any women have? writes Natasha Sutton Williams in The Independent. "It is unnerving that as an “emerging” playwright myself with nine years’ experience, I see female theatre-makers with more than 20 years’ worth of critical acclaim not being given a platform at the NT. Take for example playwright Winsome Pinnock. She has written numerous award-winning plays. Her 1987 show Leave Taking was the first play penned by a black woman on the NT stage. As one of Britain’s best known black playwrights, you would think the NT would consistently commission Pinnock (as they have done with playwrights David Hare and Tom Stoppard) and would be begging her to write for their upcoming seasons. Yet the last time her work was staged at the NT was in 1999."

In March we saw Reece Shearmsith speaking to Muriel Gray in Glasgow. The blog dodoswords has helpfully written up a complete transcript of their conversation. "MG: Can I ask you a really dull, prosaic question – asking for a friend. When you’re writing… partnership… who paces and who actually types?

RS: Um, Steve does a lot of the typing but we do swap. I feel like I’m pacing more than he is but then he’ll go ‘You do it. I’m so tired.’ We’ve got like a, it’s a cell, a very monastic cell that we write in, in this room in Muswell Hill and it’s, er… there’s nothing in it. There was a wardrobe, which was where ‘Sardines’ came from for No.9. We used to stare at this wardrobe every day… and, er, we have just the laptop and a few post-its and that’s it. It’s really sparse. You can’t even make a cup of tea in it. There’s nothing in it."

If you're a Neil Gaiman fan you will have certainly listened to this already, but even if you're not it's a great listen. Tim Ferris had Neil Gaiman on his podcast recently and they spoke at length about writing and Gaiman's process. Lots of links in the show notes and lots of chat about the episode in the comments. You can also watch it on YouTube.

Here's a video of Ian McKellen interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show in 1981 talking about acting on stage.

In the New York Times Laura Collins-Hughes writes about toxic men on the New York stage. "“Belligerence” is still in previews, so I have to be a little coy about it, but “Anger” absolutely staggered me — sent me off afterward rethinking my life, examining my own sympathies. Both pitch-black comedies, they show the ways that women are conditioned to feel for even wildly toxic men, while doggedly discounting their own needs, their own suffering and that of other women."

Playbill has a 43 minute on camera interview with Aaron Sorkin talking about writing and his adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. 

The Evening Standard has listed the top 10 theatre openings for May. The main trend is mythic angst. 

On YouTube we found a Stewart Lee talk at Oxford from 2013, 'On Not Writing'.   

Harpers Bazaar looks at the seven Irish writers you need to know about.

What We've Been To See

The cast of Lifeline. Photo by Catriona Duggan
Pero the star of Animal Hour
We started May in London to see Betrayal by Harold Pinter, starring Tom Hiddleston (the audience were googling his love life before the curtain went up - fame is strange), Charlie Cox (Daredevil in the Netflix t.v. show, so we overheard a lot of Marvel conversations) and Zawe Ashton (most recognised from St Trinian's 2, the only audience comment we heard about her was 'I should be so lucky' when her character declared she was expecting - audiences are strange). It was a stripped down production, with hardly any props or set, and the actors rarely left the stage, listening in to each other's scenes like Ghosts of Future Yet-to-Come, which suited a plot that was going backwards from a painful breakup to the start of an affair. Our favourite bit was the revolve stage that had the actors spinning round just missing each other like planets going round the sun. 

After that we went to Nora, an update of A Doll's House, At The Citizens, Glasgow (at The Tramway) with 3 Noras, in 3 time zones, and an earnest, poetic, polemical script that combined drama with storytelling. The direction and some of the acting was frantic and busy and at times tipped the production into a burlesque of itself. The last night audience was - impolite - and heckled, but we enjoyed it and hope to see a revival.

From there we were back down South-ish to see Princess and The Hustler by Chinonyerem Odimba at Newcastle's very oddly shaped, but cosy, Live! Theatre. It was a sweet funny, well-written, brilliantly performed, drama about a ten year old realising the rules of British beauty aren't fair while her errant father redeems himself through a bus boycott. Set in the 1960s, it also featured a lovely burst of Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop. 

Back in Glasgow we were at The Bungo to see Amy Hawe's funny new play, Lifeline. Competing couples have to answer intrusive and incriminating questions to win life-changing prizes. It's a dystopia that's horribly close to being a documentary. 

The Animal Hour by Mabli Godden at Gilmorehill was a one-woman show on dealing with anxiety. Mabli got her dog Pero as her support animal and the show centered around how they cope with anxiety together. As enlightening and engaging as Mabli's monologue was it's fair to say that the highlight of the show was Pero himself. He joined Mabli on stage for the second half of the performance, wandering into the audience and happily interacting with audience members eager to pet him.

Lastly we went to an NTS Live Encore performance of All About Eve. Based on the fast-paced, witty, 1940s film, this version by Ivo van Hove strung it out into a near-tragedy about ageing, death, and being endlessly replaced by younger, hungrier versions of yourself (we can't think what put that into Ivo's head). It probably didn't need to be taken so far in that direction, but it was impossible not to find yourself immersed in its increasing melodramas. Gillian Anderson and Lily James are as brilliant as everyone says they are. 

Things to Read

The Comic Toolbox
by John Vorhaus
Comedy is hard. And it's also impossible to cheat, no matter how many theories a writer tries to comfort themselves with, the audience laughs or it doesn't. So this toolbox is also armour to go into battle with. It starts with your emotions and how to quell fear and then it moves onto basic comic mechanics. What makes a thing funny? How to make it more funny. How to make it funny without even trying. We're not going to go into too much detail, because we don't want you to cheat yourself and crib it from this. Buy it, do the exercises, and you will have learned how to construct a comic character, how to surround them with as much conflict and jeopardy as possible, and  how to turn any thought into a joke. It ends with this formula: TALENT + DRIVE + TIME = SUCCESS and a note of caution about keeping up enthusiasm. 

UPDATE: Billy Mernit's brilliant book 'Writing The Romantic Comedy' is still in print, and is available from Amazon. He told us so himself!

Twitter Writing Chat

The best of the writing and theatre related Twitter threads we noticed in April.

Writer Jarek Adams asked for personal experiences of working class writers having the door opened for them.

Joanne Harris with ten things about debuts. (It's a bit of a cheat including Joanne Harris in this section as she regularly tweets great threads like this.)

Not something we've had any experience with sitting in Scottish theatres' public spaces, but an interesting (if sweary) thread on the National Theatre's cafe.

Fronteiras Theatre Lab has a thread on grassroots theatre.

Lauren Gunderson talks about old plays.

James Topham on screenplay structure.
Annie George in Twa.

Things Coming Up We Recommend

The Scarlet Pimpernel Showcase is a semi-staged, fully-rehearsed production written by Helen Bang and directed by Jennifer Dick. It features Edward Soper, Nicole Cooper, Neil John Gibson, John Winchester and Esme Bayley. All shows start at 7.30pm.

Friday 3 May, Adelaide Hall, Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4HZ. 

Saturday 4 May, Broompark Centre, Denny FK6 6NP  (There will be a short Q @ A and reception after this performance.)

Sunday 5 May, Assembly Roxy, Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh EH8 9SU

Full details about the production including ticket booking information can be found at
The Duns Play Fest runs from 4th to 11th May. It’s a celebration of new dramatic writing and will feature work by playwrights from the Borders and Edinburgh. You can see the full programme on their website.
Jennifer Adam's new play - The House That Melts With The Rain is part of The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival on Monday 6th of May at 7:30pm at The Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh. Funded by Creative Scotland's open fund, this play has been developed under the direction of Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir with a cast of Vivien Reid and Kirsty Elia McIntyre. The House That Melts With The Rain is a play about a woman who refuses to leave her home despite it visibly disintegrating around her. It explores how we can be affected by what we see in the news, the impact that can have on our mental state, the role the media plays in contributing to instilling fear and uncertainty and ultimately how we can find hope through the clouds.  Tickets are £5 from the Assembly website.

The Flames at the CCA, Presented by Tricky Hat under the direction of Fiona Miller, the cast comprises performers over 50 years old and is about, life, love and living expressed through movement, music, visual imagery and the spoken word. It's on Saturday 11th at 3 or 7pm at the CCA in Glasgow. Tickets are available from the CCA.
Twa by Annie George and Flore Gardner. In a powerful blend of theatrical storytelling, animation and live performance drawing, award-winning writer Annie George and visual artist Flore Gardner unwind contrasting stories about women who have been silenced, and who discover other means of expression besides the voice to convey their truths. It's at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Fri 24 & Sat 25 May 2019, 8PM (1hr) (A Q&A follows the performance on Fri 24th May) Tickets from the Traverse: £12.00/£10.50/£9.00/£5.00


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

The Bruntwood Prize for new full-length plays is open until June 6th. Its website has a wealth of resources, so it's worth visiting even if you won't be entering this year. 

The Traverse are looking for a temporary Front of House Manager as well as a Press and Marketing Assistant.

Bard in the Botanics need a Deputy Stage Manager.

Our pals at the CCA are looking for a Communications Officer.
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.

May's SAST Shows

We're back at the the Old Hairdressers on Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th of May with two nights of plays based on Kate Bush songs. The bill(s) haven't been confirmed just yet, so keep up with our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and website for the announcement and link to buy 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 is everywhere just now. It's just been announced that three stories from his Hings book will be on the BBC iPlayer in May. Here's some clips. He supports JB Barrington at the Flying Duck on Saturday 4th May. His short story collection HWFG is available from all good bookshops and publishers 404 Ink

Tom Murray - Tom has a story, Man in the Moon published in the new Scottish International Short Story magazine Postbox. Tom will read the story at the launch of the magazine at the Scottish Poetry Library 4th May. Tom has poems displayed in Gatehouse of Fleet as part of BigLit Festival: The Stewartry Book Festival. An annual event, a long weekend of talks, performances, workshops, music and entertainment on a literary theme. Tom will perform his own monologues in a cabaret event as part of Duns PlayFest on 9th May.  

Eve Nicol - Eve directs the Scottish premiere of Abi Morgan's The Mistress Contract which runs at The Tron until 11th May. Here's an interview with her from The List.
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 June.
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Short Attention Span Theatre · 2 Berl Avenue · Houston · Johnstone, Renfrewshire PA67JJ · United Kingdom

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