This is the eighth 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

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. The plays are being finalised as we write, and we'll announce the writers and where to buy tickets in early August on Twitter and Facebook. 
10 Things Worth Sharing
Here are ten links we've seen that are worth sharing.

In this great 90 minute video Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt talks about endings in stories. It has a number of examples from three films - Star Wars, The Graduate and Arndt's own Little Miss Sunshine. There's also this 8 minute video on beginnings. You can download the scripts for Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine from the site.

In this podcast from the New York Times crime writers Lee Child, Megan Abbott, Meg Gardiner, Lisa Gardner and Lisa Scottoline discuss how they write their books. “I get the same shock the reader gets,” Mr. Child says, “at the end of a chapter. ‘Wow, I definitely did not see that coming.’ And the really funny thing for me is when, afterward, a reader will say, ‘Oh, I had it all figured out by Page 50,’ and I think, ‘Really? I didn’t.’”

This is a great blog post by Melanie Fullbrook on 5 ways to fund a play. "4) HUNT OUT SOME INVESTORS - This  is how the majority of the big budget shows work and we had our first real experience of building an investor group for our most recent public production of Daisy Pulls It Off. You create an  investment pack that clearly outlines your pre-production and running costs, your estimated ticket sales, break-even points and profit margins and then you send it to individuals and companies with a love for theatre (or gambling)! "

Authors Megan Abbott and Tom Perrotta spoke to Entertainment Weekly about making the move from writing novels to writing for television. "PERROTTA: I’ve noticed that, sometimes, a really great idea will make the other people in the room a little bit angry. You’re angry because you didn’t have it. [Laughs] When it’s working well, it’s a little bit like a team, and it’s when someone’s bad idea leading to somebody’s slightly better idea, the person with the [better] idea gets credit for it — but there was this entire series of steps toward it."

On the Granta website author Cormac James writes about how he's recently learned from fellow author Elizabeth Strout to pay attention. "I’d set aside my novel-in-progress six months before to take on this other job, so I hadn’t written anything in a while, wasn’t even in writing mode, but somewhere on the stairs I caught myself doing what Strout had taught me: paying attention. And what I noticed was that with every trip I could feel myself getting older. That thought, like most, might have paid my mind only the briefest visit, but I latched on and repeated  it, and even as I was tramping up and down those [4 x (2 x 8)] steps I found myself starting to riff, making it more and more my own."

Emily Bronte would have been 200 years old this year and to celebrate the BBC have compiled a list of the women (& more) she's inspired over the years. 'The most famous tribute came in Bush's 1978 song Wuthering Heights, which captured the novel's haunting romance. It was Bush's breakthrough at the age of 19 and went to number one for a month. Bush was first struck by a TV adaptation of Wuthering Heights before reading the book. "I was deeply affected by it, and decided I wanted to write a song about the incredible imagery," she said.'

Theatre Voice has an interview with Winsome Pinnock, whose first play 'Leave Taking' was revived at The Bush in May/June. The interview covers the play, her life and career, and being a writer of colour in the British theatre landscape. 'it's not easy to write, because you're constantly confronted with your own kind of limitations. There comes a point where you sort of have to accept it. I remember one of those mentors telling me that writers have a range... but even if you have a limited range you can do extraordinary things within it'. 

One of the worst thing about working in the arts (beyond getting paid) is sending emails. What to say? When to say it? And when it's all gone irrefutably wrong and even been 'called out' on social media, how to recover? In The Stage, John Byrne covers the last question with some good advice about learning and letting go. 'As for the smart-ass replies and retweets by others on Twitter, ignore them. Several respected casting directors have repeatedly told me that the small number of actors who think they are currying favour by fawning over them on social media are doing the exact opposite. Ultimately, that’s a far more damaging career move than accidentally sending a bad link.'

BBC Writersroom is pleading for more studio sitcoms, because they're popular (and cheap) and has written a blog to inspire and persuade. 'As a general rule you should aim for four laughs per page, otherwise an eerie silence will haunt your nightmares for all eternity. Notice that I say laughs rather than jokes. It can be a misconception that you are writing jokes for the characters to tell each other. The comedy should come from the characters. They’re not trying to make each other laugh, they are inadvertently making us laugh due to their quirks, opposing perceptions and their reactions to the predicaments they create for themselves. Also try to generate physical and visual comedy, not only because variety is a beautiful thing, but these big set pieces of action often get big responses and stick with the audience, as a thousand clip shows featuring Del Boy falling through the bar or the Vicar of Dibley jumping in a puddle will attest. And while laughs are vital, they shouldn’t be at the expense of the story. Do your best to make sure the jokes are a part of progressing the plot, rather than long humorous exchanges that don’t really have much to do with anything. And always aim for a punchline at the end of each scene so it has an impactful punch, rather than fizzling away, a bit like the end of this paragraph...'

In The Guardian Richard Skinner explains why writing your first novel is about getting to know yourself. 'The playwright Edward Albee said that if you are willing to fail interestingly, you tend to succeed interestingly, too, which is true. Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Yes. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. Best of all, in finishing a first draft, you will have given yourself permission to call yourself a writer. Writing is all about confidence and that kind of confidence can never be taught, only ever learned. It will vanquish all foes and, with it, you can do anything.'

What We've Been To See

Pride and Prejudice (Sort Of) at The Tron was a burlesque of the novel. Comedy Cliff Notes with Karoke. A romantic musical that managed to keep all of the drama and wit of the original, while adding slapstick and gags. It's great fun, very clever and with its cast of five young actresses, playing everyone from Mrs Bennet to Mr Darcy, it's proof positive that you don't have to look the part as long as you feel the part. 

Edward II is a cautionary tale about a King so in love with his odious favourite that he fails to notice that his Kingdom has gone to hell and everyone hates him. In Bard In The Botanic's lush 1950s set production full justice is given to the complexity of the situation, with a resolutely fragile Isabella and an attractive thug of a Piers Gaveston being particularly affecting. It's only slightly marred by the unromantic decision at the very end to shoehorn in soundbites from recent gay history. The idea that a man who lost Scotland, alienated France and plunged England into famine might have kept his throne if gay marriage was legal is a wee bit ridiculous. 

Student theatre is packed with the energy of brand new artists finding their voice, is a riot of freshly explored techniques and shows plays that few other spaces have the time or resources to programme. The RCS's revival of Abi Morgan's Tiny Dynamite has a story that buffs would call 'delicate' and 'moving' and non-buffs would call 'eh?' and 'who's dead, is she dead, is that a sandwich?' but either way it's heartfelt, beautifully realised, lingers long after the bows, and only costs a fiver. 

Things to Read

Poetics of Aristotle 

Written in about 335 BC this is the great-great-great granddaddy of all How To Write manuals and it's probably still the most useful. Aristotle believed that to write well you must start with a plan, and you must know what is expected or at least proper to whatever form you're writing in. He covers poetry and theatre, comedy, tragedy, epic and Satyr (a kind of rude phallic fable). He advises taking dialogue from the kind of things you would hear in real life. His idea of unity of action (everything taking place at the same time) may be outdated, but unity is still important. Action must be connected, if not in time, then in cause and effect. When it comes to heroes and villains he suggests they should be on the same side of any war or conflict, because in his day enemies were meant to kill each other, so why would anyone care? In our day, it means we avoid demonising 'the other'. We're all capable of atrocities, and we should be shocked by them. It ends with perhaps my favourite bit of wisdom, 'No one can tell why he composes verses - whether it be that he has defiled his father's grave or impiously profaned some solemn holy ground. Beyond doubt, he is mad and, like a bear that has succeeded in breaking through the barriers of his cage, your poet, with his wearisome readings, puts all to flight, unlearned and learned alike; but if he catches any one, he clings to him, and bores him to death by his recitals and adheres to his skin till gorged with blood, a veritable leech.' 

Twitter Writing Advice

We've rounded up the best writing chat we've spotted on Twitter throughout the last month.

Novelist Sarah Day tweeted about the perils of find and replace to change a character's name. The replies show that she's not the only person who's had a problem with this.

Django Wexler, author of a number of fantasy books, offers some thoughts on well known pieces of writing advice.

Senior Editor with Orbit Books Brit Elisabet Hvide Busse offers what she's learned working with writers.

Script Editor Andrew Ellard writes a thread on 'ad libbed' dialogue in movies.

Chocolat author Joanne Harris tweets ten things about literary prizes.

Literary Agent at Curtis Brown Jonny Geller has a thread on what literary agents are looking for in new writers

Fantasy writer Anna Aguire tweeted about the not always clear journey a write goes on.

Things Coming Up We Recommend

It's August so it's Edinburgh time. Here we highlight some of our picks for the Fringe and also what to see outside the capital (by that we mean Glasgow).

Edinburgh Fringe Festival


Let's Inherit the Earth
Morna Pearson’s new climate change comedy a co-production by Dogstar Theatre Company and Sweden's Profilteatern.
Pleasance Courtyard
August 10-12, 14-19, 21-26 at 12.20pm

Jumpers for Goalposts
Tom Wells' romantic comedy set in the world of gay and lesbian five-a-side football.
theSpace on the Mile - Space 3
August 5, 7, 9, 11, 13,15, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 at 12.50pm

Love Song to Lavender Menace
James Ley's hit play about Edinburgh's 1980s gay scene.
Summerhall - TechCube 0
August 1-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-26 at 12.55pm

The Bench
Keir McAllister's new play, a two-hander he stars in alongside Paul Sneddon.
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre - Attic
August 1-19, 21-26 at 2.15pm

In for a Penny
Libby McArthur stars in a new play by David Cosgrove.
Gilded Balloon Teviot - Nightclub
August 1-12, 14-27 at 2.45pm

Nina's Got News by Frank Skinner
The debut play by stand-up comedian Frank Skinner.
Pleasance Dome - QueenDome
August 1-26 at 2.50pm

Once in a Generation...
Julie Calderwood's play set on the day of the Independence referendum.
Laughing Horse @ The Mockingbird - Upstairs
August 2-10 at 4pm

James Tait Black Prize for Drama 2018: The Award Ceremony
Extracts from the three shortlisted plays will be performed and discussions held with the playwrights, before the winner is revealed. 
Traverse Theatre - Traverse 2
August 20th at 4pm

Alan Bennett's Green Forms
An Alan Bennett one act play originally written for TV in 1978.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall - Theatre 1
August 22-25 at 4.15pm

A verbatim play, about five people in recovery from alcoholism.
August 1, 3-7, 9-12, 14-19, 21-26 at 4.20pm

The Moira Monologues
More Moira Monologues
Alan Bissett's acclaimed show featuring straight-talking Moira Bell.
Scottish Storytelling Centre - The Netherbow Theatre at Fringe
August 1-11 at 6.30pm and 8pm

The Next Big Thing
Adapted from the novel by Michael Russell.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall - Theatre 1
August 3-11, 13-20, 22-25 at 7.15pm

One Life Stand
Written by Eve Nicol with music by James Frewer and Honeyblood gig theatre from Middle Child.
Roundabout @ Summerhall - Roundabout
August 1, 3-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-26 at 9.45pm


Stephen Buchanan: Purpleberry
Recent winner of the Manchester heat of the BBC New Comedy Awards, sure to be a big name in the coming years.
Three Broomsticks
August 4-12, 14-25 at 3.15pm

Maisie Adam: Vague
Last year's So You Think You're Funny? winner.
Gilded Balloon Teviot - Wee Room
August 1-27 at 4.30pm

Gary Little: Big Mouth
Gary's long been one of the best stand-ups in Scotland.
Scottish Comedy Festival @ The Beehive Inn - Beehive 1
August 3-27 at 6.30pm

David Kay
A Scottish comedy circuit stalwart who should be a bigger name than he is.
The Stand Comedy Club - Stand 1
August 3-12 at 6.30pm

Jay Lafferty: Wheesht!
One of the most consistently funny acts on the Scottish circuit.
Gilded Balloon Teviot - The Turret
August 1-19, 21-27 at 6.30pm

Heidi Regan: Heidi vs Sharks
Winner of BBC New Comedy Award 2017 and So You Think You're Funny 2016.
Pleasance Courtyard - Pleasance Below
August 1-26 at 7.15pm

Robin Clyfan: The Sea Is Big Enough to Take It
A debut show about loss, growing up and dressing as a massive baby for cash. 
Heroes @ Bob's BlundaBus - Top Deck
August 2-14, 16-21, 23-26 at 8pm

Janeane Garofalo: Put a Pin in That
The American stand-up and actor comes to Edinburgh.
Gilded Balloon Teviot - Wine Bar
August 1-12, 14-19 at 9.15pm

Marc Jennings: Jokes 'N' That
Well on his way to becoming a big name in Scottish comedy.
Three Broomsticks
August 4-12, 14-25 at 9.30pm

Spoken Word

Robin Ince and Josie Long's popular podcast records episodes with special guests.
August 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 at 5.30pm

Blackwell's Writers at the Fringe
Every Thursday new and unpublished works of literary art stand alongside established novelists.
Blackwell's Bookshop
August 2, 9, 16 and 23 at 6pm


The Tron has Tetra-Decathlon, a one-woman play about the psychology of sport and Telt, a time-travelling adventure starring 50 youngsters who won't be telt to pipe down. 
51 Shades of Maggie at The Kings starring Leah MacRae from the telly, is a comedy Glasgow version of 50 Shades so if you're dying to know just how glamourous a Glasgow version of 50 Shades could be, this is the show for you. 

On the 25th of August The Britannia Panopticon has an old time music hall show, with singing and novelty acts. 


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

404 Ink have opened their submissions window and are looking for novels to publish. Submissions close on the 8th September. Have a look at their website for details.

In Motion Theatre Company currently have a number of creative development opportunities including desk space and play workshops. Go have a look at their website to see what you can sign up for.

The Arden School of Theatre are currently seeking 3 minute scenes for actor Showreels. The scenes should be two-handers and accommodate the playing age range of 18-25. The deadline is 10th August. Further details from the BBC Writers Room website.

Little Wonder are an anglophone radio production company based in Paris. They produce and publish radio shorts both readings of classics in the public domain and new pieces. They are running a competition to write a 10-15 minute radio play. The deadline is 30th August. Head over to their website for more.

The Lift-Off Global Network want to meet, inspire and support the next pioneers of Comedy. The lab accepts Shorts, Features, Animations, Scripts, Works in Development, Web Series, VR, Music Videos, and Treatments. They accept applications in the form of submissions of any length from the genre of comedy. The deadline is August 6th. Have a look at their website for more information.

Little Pieces of Gold are looking for ten minute plays for their September show. Their deadline is midnight on the 10th of August. Have a look at their website for details.

The Citizens Theatre are looking to hire a Development Assistant to help raise money. The closing date is 6th August. The details are on their website.

The Traverse Theatre currently are advertising for Ticketing and Customer Service Officer (part-time) and Deputy Box Office Manager. Have a look at their website for the details.

If you're looking for a workshop to help you start writing, and get supportive feedback, then you could do no better than editor and literary consultant, Claire Wingfield's, at Dunfermline Library. on Sunday 5th of August. 
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.

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

Elaine Malcolmson - Elaine is on Radio Scotland's Breaking the News on Friday 3rd August at 1.30pm. You can also find Elaine performing at the Electric Fields Festival which begins on Thursday 30th August.

MJ Brocklebank - MJ's short play Becoming Doctor Barry was part of our March 2018 show. It has been selected to be part of the Queer Words Project Scotland, which means MJ will be mentored by Jo Clifford and an extract will be included in an anthology to be published by 404 Ink next year. Creative Scotland have also awarded MJ funding to focus on writing a full version of the play.

Hannah Elizabeth Morton - Hannah will be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe in a play that she's written herself. A Work in Progress had its first incarnation at our April 2017 show. It's at the Gilded Balloon Basement Theatre from August 1-26th at 1.15pm.

Julie Rea - Julie has a short story in With Their Best Clothes On New Writing Scotland 36. It's released on August 6th. Julie will be appearing at the launch night at Waterstones on Byres Road in September.
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 September. 
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Short Attention Span Theatre · 2 Berl Avenue · Houston · Johnstone, Renfrewshire PA67JJ · United Kingdom

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