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
Mairi Davidson in rehearsals
Derek Banner in rehearsals

September's SAST Shows

Thanks to everyone who came along to see our shows at the Old Hairdressers and the Gilded Balloon in September. We had six terrific plays by Rachelle Atalla, Derek Banner, Kevin Blackwell, Tom Brogan, Alison Gray and Thomas Laycock. We also had six fabulous actors in Derek Banner, Gregory Bonnar, Mairi Davidson, Kat Harrison, Grant McDonald and Gillian Massey. We had great work from Stewart Schiller and Karen Barclay as directors, and special thanks goes to our dramaturgs Daniel Husson, Erin Louise McGee and Sanna McGregor. There's news about our next shows later in the newsletter.
10 Things Worth Sharing
Here are ten links we've seen that are worth sharing.

We were concerned to read in the Herald about the ongoing problems relating to the CCA being unable to re-open due to the fire at the Glasgow School of Art building. We've had shows on there as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival every year since 2014, and it's always been a supportive, welcoming environment. The latest news is that they hope to be open to the public on the 15th October. We hope the place is thriving once again soon.

Stephen Jeffreys, whose plays included The Libertine, Interruptions and Backbeat passed away in September. This is his obituary from the New York Times. In an interview for the recent book “Dramatic Writing Masterclasses: Key Advice From the Industry Masters,” Mr. Jeffreys was asked for one piece of counsel for would-be writers. “If you are a writer, you have to be someone who can be on your own,” he said. “You can sit in a room for eight hours, and at the end of it you will have done something.”

An interview with Richard Bean from the New York Times as his 2016 play set around snooker, The Nap, begins in New York. Snooker, Mr. Bean explained, “is sociologically quite interesting, because it’s a working-class game. You read the autobiographies of the top players, the tropes are exactly the same: alcohol, gambling, fast cars, women trouble, dystopian families,” he said. “That’s your raw material really. At the same time it’s unbelievably difficult, and it’s like playing first violin in the Philharmonic; if you haven’t done the 10,000 hours, it’s not going to happen.”

The Guardian looks at Manchester Exchange's amateur acting programme for actors over 60 the Elders Company. There's more information about them on the Manchester Exchange's own website. “We are a growing and ageing population and we need to think about what provision there is for older people and how can we keep them active and creative for as long as possible,” says Andy Barry, who has run the Royal Exchange’s elders programme since it started in 2014.

Playwright David Edgar talks to the Socialist Worker about the revival of his play Maydays and his new solo show Trying It On. "Some 35 years on, on the 50th anniversary of 1968, it seemed a good time to revisit Maydays and its theme. Two further questions had emerged in the interim. One was personal—what had happened to my politics in the intervening years? The other was political—why had my generation, in such large numbers, moved to the populist right, in Britain and across the West? And how could the Sergeant Pepper generation have turned its back on the social and cultural gains of its youth, in favour of a rose-tinted version of its 1950s childhood?"

Comedy writer Dave Cohen is currently offering a free PDF copy of his book 'How To be Averagely Successful at Comedy' if you sign up to his website. If you're interested in sitcom or comedy writing in general there's a lot of great information on his site and in his podcast Sitcom Geeks.

In The Stage, Lyn Gardener makes an appeal for funded theatres to treat freelancers with more consideration. especially when it comes to meetings and money. 'No wonder so many independent artists trying to access buildings still feel like supplicants prostrating themselves before feudal lords, knocking repeatedly at the castle doors but never gaining admittance. I know of companies creating work within 30 miles of major buildings that have repeatedly, and yet fruitlessly, invited producers from that building to see their work. Nobody has ever come. The lack of discussion about how widespread  a phenomenon this is, is largely because those making the work fear naming and shaming would mean those castle doors will remain permanently slammed shut'.

The Guardian ponders the fate of Films That Were Meant To Win Oscars whose early buzz dwindles away as the ceremony approaches. 'Going further back into the hall of failure, you will find such once-touted strikeouts as Mira Nair’s glumly earthbound aviatrix biopic Amelia; the icky Kevin Spacey karma-drama Pay It Forward; and Brian De Palma’s egregiously misjudged adaptation of The Bonfire of the Vanities. An excellent podcast, This Had Oscar Buzz, has devoted itself to chronicling such disappointments, and that may be the best remembrance these films can hope for.'

Also in The Guardian (and not unrelated to Lyn's piece in The Stage) is an article about Home Theatre. Theatre Companies, who often lacking a building or access to a viable touring circuit, are putting on site-specific and immersive shows in community spaces or private homes. 'Theatre is often defending itself against claims of inaccessibility. With West End ticket prices, it’s not hard to see why. But productions like the National’s Pericles show what can happen when a theatre puts a community centre-stage. When theatre works its magic, it transforms a collection of individuals into a glorious whole. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need these inclusive experiences, and fewer exclusive ones'.

IntelliNews has a round up of last month's Homo Novus Festival in Riga. This year's dominating theme was man getting back in touch with nature, which, in our technology saturated times, seems a vital intervention. 'As the leading thinkers on the Anthropocene have long established, our age of absolute human domination has been enabled by a deep, fundamental "modern" bifurcation between nature and culture, between the natural world out there and the society. Some works presented at the Homo Novus festival grapple with this core nature-culture divide, trying to give birth to hybrids between nature and human agents representing it, on the way challenging both the space of representation and the viewing experience of a stage act'. 

What We've Been To See

Early Doors was an acclaimed, yet cancelled, sitcom from the early 2000s written by Phil Mealey and Craig Cash. The live revival of it at the Armadillo was a joyful two hours. The TV show was always full of warmth and that was true of the play, managing to retain some of the intimacy that the show had even in the surroundings of the Armadillo. The set on two levels was really impressive. Corrupt cops Phil and Nige complaining about their lot brought about much of the laughter. "'Evidence' is the new buzzword now." Joan Kempson as cleaner Winnie also brought the house down once or twice. The show was full of touching moments, and finished on an inspired musical number.

Our New York correspondents, who we will codename Mum And Dad, went to see a couple of tourist traps on Broadway. My Fair Lady at The Lincoln Center, and The Phantom of The Opera at The Majestic (Tom, their concierge, has seen Phantom so often he can pinpoint the best seats in the house to see all of the special effects from).

My Fair Lady had a leading lady who didn't appear that night because work is hard, and Dame Diana Rigg, who would go on with the show if she died before the curtain went up, and a man who shouted so viciously as Professor Higgins that Dad thought it was a musical about domestic violence and was concerned. He was also concerned that he wasn't allowed to drink beer in the auditorium because that's the only way he can get through these things. Thank God for intervals. Mum loved it. 

Mum also loved The Phantom of The Opera despite a near pathological hatred of Andrew Lloyd Webber formed during a particularly boring performance of Cats in Glasgow where the poor actor playing Magical Mr Mistoffelees was left flinging his arms wide for uproarious applause in total silence. He froze in horror for about thirty seconds before scuttling off. Phantom won her over with sentiment and spectacle. She loved the chandelier rising from the floor to the theme tune at the start, she loved the boat in the lake, she loved the man leaping from the set at the end. It was big, loud and romantic, and pretty much everything the average theatre goer wants from a great night out. 

Things to Read

Tip of The Tongue by Peter Brook
In this short, insightful book, the theatre director Peter Brook distills a lifetime of his thoughts on language, the differences between languages and how we use or don't use them on the stage. As always he's a deeply practical man, theory is never untested, it is proven or not proven through action. He discusses his career, with a particular focus on Shakespeare. He reminds us that every play is happening now. Plays are always contemporary and we don't have to directly add references to current events to make them resonate. 

We could endlessly quote our favourite paragraphs, but we'll settle for two: 

'Pourquoi?' and 'Why?' may seem identical. The sense is exactly the same. But not the sound. 'Pourquoi?' is an interrogation, the interrogator is pointing a finger at you asking for an explanation. 'Why?' is made of air - the 'y' sound at the end leaves the question open. 

If we recognise that we've become numbed by shock tactics, that no scandal is scandalous, then we must face the fact that theatre, especially for its writers and directors, is suddenly losing its most reliable weapon. At the moment when social and political themes are what should - what must - concern us directly, how can we escape the banality of the obvious, the glibness of the outrage, the naivety of protest? 

Brook answers some questions, at least to his own satisfaction, but what he wants is for the reader, and the theatre, to find it's own answers. This is a brilliant reminder that we can never stay still. There is always something new to be discovered. 
Some Writing Advice and Chat from Twitter
Here's a few of the threads on writing we've spotted on Twitter over the last month.

This is a discussion thread started by Tobi Kyeremateng, a theatre, poetry and festival producer, she raises the subject of verbatim theatre about the marginalised produced by the privileged. 

A thread from Matthew Federman, producer of TV shows such as Jericho and Warehouse 13, outlining some advice on pitching. "Biggest mistake writers make when pitching is getting bogged down in details. Think about it like a great movie you saw recently that you're telling a friend about. You don't describe every scene. You talk about a great opening, main characters, big moments and the end."

Writer Seb Patrick writes a thread about how he and is writing partner developed their radio sitcom on the internet A Brief History of Time Travel. 

Pacing is the subject of this thread from Fonda Lee, science fiction and fantasy author. 

Things Coming Up We Recommend

Hello/Goodbye is the first theatre performance to be produced by Novem Productions and looks at the drive for human connection and the effects of failing to meet this need upon our mental health and general wellbeing. This is the first phase of research and development and both shows will host a post show discussion in order to engage with its audience, in order to inform the next stage of the shows development. It's on at The Scottish Youth Theatre on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th October. Tickets are £6 from Eventbrite.

Opening soon is Ballyturk, by Enda Walsh, another great absurdist Irish play, in what is now becoming something of a speciality at The Tron. Two men, trapped within four walls, imagine the outside world, and wonder if they'll ever escape to see it. 


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

Glasgow-based In Motion Theatre company are holding a Theatre Week this October. There are brilliant workshops on everything from movement to production and it ends with brunch. 

BBC Radio Four Extra are looking for topical gags and sketches for their comedy show Newsjack. It's open to writers at all stages of their career. 

Future Learn is hosting a free screenwriting course from The University of East Anglia. It's a great introduction to the basics of structure and research with the opportunity to continue on to a more advanced level. 

Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones will be talking about the inspirations behind Black Mirror for Guardian Live on the 1st of November. 'Stephen King has described Black Mirror as “terrifying, funny, intelligent. It’s like the Twilight Zone, only rated R,” and it has attracted acting and directorial talent from around the globe, including Jodie Foster, Jon Hamm, Bryce Dallas Howard and Joe Wright'.
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.

October's SAST Shows

We have two shows in October. On Monday 22nd at the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow and Wednesday 24th October at Gilded Balloon Basement Theatre. You can buy tickets for Glasgow from See Tickets and for Edinburgh from the Gilded Balloon.
The six plays are:

When We Were Soldiers by David Bratchpiece
Two estranged brothers reconnect at their mother’s funeral, leading them to reflect on the different paths their lives have taken. 

Road to Nowhere by Catriona Duggan
In the front two seats of a car that is stuck on the M74 during the snowstorm of 16th January 2018 two drivers decide to share a sleeping bag to keep each other warm. As the night progresses, so too does their relationship...until its bitter end in the cold light of day.

Mondays are Mince by Jamie Graham
Graeme's redundancy has hit him hard. He's stuck in a rut while Fiona edges closer to the end of her tether. It's Monday teatime and something's about to go off the boil...

A9 by Michael Houston
Two hitchhikers find that they have a lot more in common with their driver than first thought in their trip down the A9. 

The Bus Stop by Claire Gray-Simon
A woman witnesses a heartwarming scene and unexpected revelation between two men at a bus stop while they all wait for a bus that never comes.

Death of a Factory by Tom Murray
Will the life and memories of a factory and all who have come and gone through its doors over the years survive the final shift?

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 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 - Chris has a new short story collection 'HWFG' published in November. You can buy it on pre-order from publishers 404 Ink. We've been lucky enough to have a read of it. It's full of inventive stories, smart dialogue, powerful characters and lots of laugh out loud moments.There's not a weak story in the collection. All in all it's very good indeed. Get it pre-ordered or get a copy from Chris when he surely does some live events to promote it. You can still get Chris's debut short story collection 'Hings' from all good bookshops and online from publishers 404 Ink. There's also a Hings audiobook.

Tom Brogan - Tom has an article on the famous 1980 schoolboys international match between Scotland and England in the latest edition of Nutmeg magazine.
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 November. 
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Short Attention Span Theatre · 2 Berl Avenue · Houston · Johnstone, Renfrewshire PA67JJ · United Kingdom

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