This is the nineteenth 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

May's SAST Shows

Above are actors Emma Findlay and Johanna Harper in Katie Sproull's Hammer Horror; Hayleigh Meg in Carl Pickard's Wow; Mick Cullen and Hayleigh Meg in Under Ice by John Wilde; Sarah C Meikle and Mick Cullen in Running Up That Hill by Kenneth Fleming.
Thanks to everyone who came along to see our two nights of script-in-hand performances at the Old Hairdressers in May. We did thirteen plays inspired by Kate Bush script-in-hand. You can read more about them and what inspired the writers by having a look at the programmes on our website.

There's information about our June show further down the page.
10 Things Worth Sharing
We were at the BBC Writersoom Scottish Writers' Festival yesterday (31st May). The talks included Nicole Taylor, Philip Shelley and Ford Keirnan and Greg Hemphill. We'll have the best bits from our notes on the day next month. In the meantime here are ten links we've seen that are worth sharing.

In The Guardian Libby Brooks writes about the enduring appeal of Play, Pie and a PintFounded by the great theatrical innovator David MacLennan in 2004, the idea was greeted with scepticism to begin with, said David Greig, now artistic director of Edinburgh’s Lyceum, who worked on an early season with MacLennan. “When it started, everybody thought ‘how’s that going to work?’ and it seemed like a crazy venture. But David MacLennan identified the demand from the audience for new work. You turn up and sometimes get something brilliant, sometimes you hate it, but you love the pie and the pint and the mates you go along with,” he said.

Adelle Stripe’s book Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile has been adapted into a play by Lisa Holdsworth, and it opens in Bradford this week. The Telegraph and Argus has an interview with Holdsworth, while the BBC looks at Andrea Dunbar. Producer Jennifer Howarth spoke to The Stage last year about working with Dunbar on the film Rita, Sue and Bob Too.

On YouTube Behind The Curtain offers short videos on writing TV series and movies. Taking writer interviews and playing them alongside clips from the films they outline how the shows were written. Here's How They Wrote The Sopranos

Sally Wainwright's latest series Gentleman Jack started on BBC 1 a couple of weeks ago. Here she is in The GuardianIn 2017, the long-running arts programme The South Bank Show, which confers status on the key cultural figures it profiles, from artists to dancers to musicians, dedicated an episode to her work. “I think they should have made a South Bank Show about me about 15 years ago,” she said. “Considering how prolific I am, how consistent the quality of what I write is.” She paused, again aware of how it sounded. “That’s the trouble with being a woman. If you do say something like that, you sound like you’ve got a chip on your shoulder and you’re being angry. Rather than just saying it like it is,” she said. “But I think I have got a chip on my shoulder about being fat and northern. A fat northern chip. Sounds good, doesn’t it?”
Friend of SAST Catherine Hokin offers some historical writing tips - "Start with a purpose and a plan. Your novel isn’t about the Wars of the Roses, or about the American Civil War. It’s a spotlight on an aspect, an event or a character inside those parameters, and that’s your starting focus. Start too wide and you’ll literally lose the plot." 

Television writer David Milch is profiled in the New Yorker. Now diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease Milch talks about how he's dealing with the illness. (The link also includes an audio version of the article.)  Milch: Denial, I think, is a sort of ongoing operative procedure—you try and proceed as if you’re capable, as if you weren’t ill. And then begin making concessions to the fact that you are. . . . Things that you can’t remember any longer, in particular—it’s like shifting the gears of the engine of a car, except to the extent that it absolutely isn’t. You just move through the day experiencing a series of awarenesses of what’s gone in terms of your capacities. 

In The Scotsman Dani Garavelli writes about the rebirth of Scottish publishing. Though the number of platforms on which to write about new books is diminishing – particularly with the recent suspension of the printed version of the Scottish Review of Books – 16.3 million were sold in Scotland last year, with a 2.5 per cent increase in spending. There has also been an explosion in the number of book festivals. In Scotland, Aye Write, Wigtown, Ullapool, Islay, Bloody Scotland and other festivals are growing, while Cymera, the first ever festival for fantasy, sci- fi and horror is launching next month.

Our friends at the CCA now have a podcast. Here's the first episode.

Script consultant Philip Shelley has a newsletter, and a podcast and you can follow him on twitter. We'll be writing up his talk at The Scottish Writers Festival 2019 next month. 

For lovers of old, slightly disturbing British television, The TV Museum on YouTube, the blog Curious British Telly  and WhyDontYouTube on Twitter, sibling to T.V Cream are all amazing and creepy resources. 

What We've Been To See

The Mistress Contract
Jim Higo at the Flying Duck
Wendy Erskine at Dumbarton Library
James Ellroy at St Lukes
Our May started at The Traverse, with a work-in-progress from InMotion, Lily. It was a haunting piece in their signature style of poetic realism. A play with songs, it told the story of missing teenager Lily, and the impact on those left wondering. 

Then we were at a showcase for a new production of The Scarlet Pimpernel. A romping historical adventure, starring the world's first superhero with a secret identity. It's a great night out and we hope to see the full version on a stage soon. 

We had a great night of spoken word at the Flying Duck with JB Barrington and Friends. Organised by Derek Steel of Razur Cuts this was a terrific line up of poets and writers, both local and from the north of England. First up was Dickson Telfer with some amusing stories of social media. Stephen Watt is a regular on the spoken word scene and it's easy to see why he appears on numerous bills with some entertaining poems and engaging between poem chat. David Ross read from his latest novel Welcome to the Heady Heights, while providing a few primers in between. The star of the show for me was Jim Higo. He paced the stage with boundless energy, interspersing his engaging poems with hilarious rants. SAST's own Chris McQueer was the penultimate act, delivering his usual easy going style of storytelling. We were more excited though by getting to look after his dog Timmy while Chris was on stage. JB Barrington strolled his headline set saving his classic Sunglasses for last. Derek and Razur Cuts deserves much credit for putting the bill together, and it was a night that certainly deserved a much bigger audience, although everyone who turned out had a great night.

In The Mistress Contract at The Tron a Californian couple spent thirty years taping conversations about their sex lives. It was low on drama but high on human interest. Were they widening their horizons with thier new self-awareness or were they victims of extreme navel-gazing, trapping themselves in words when they should be lost in sensuality?  

The West Dunbartonshire Booked Festival is a wonderful entry in the literature calendar. All the talks are free and there's always an excellent line up. First we saw Alan Parks discussing his books Bloody January and February's Son. Both are set in 70s Glasgow and part of a planned 12 book series. Alan was very humble about his writing success and talked about how the inspiration for the books lay in being taken into Glasgow shopping by his mother when he was a young boy.

The first of a double header at Dumbarton Library was Madeline Bunting, who spoke about her novel Island Song. The book is set in German-occupied Guernsey in 1940. It was borne out of her research for her 1995 non-fiction book The Model Occupation. It was a fascinating hour as she spoke about the era.

The second event at Dumbarton saw Wendy Erskine read from her short story collection, Sweet Home, recently long listed for the Gordon Burn Prize. She spoke about her writing and how she put together her collection over the course of a year.

American author James Ellroy was at St Luke's in the Gallowgate to read from and talk about his latest book This Storm. He has a unique style as a reader and a refreshing candour as a speaker. Some snippets we noted - On writing about historical events and characters: "I make a lot of this shit up." On Orson Welles: "A doofus's idea of a genius." On the characters in his books: "You're trying to tell the truth about human beings, the karmic consequences of immoral acts." When asked why the public perception of him doesn't always chime with the content of his books: "You can't make a woman love you if they're not that way inclined. No matter how hard you try." He was interviewed recently in The Guardian.

We were at another work-in-progress, the first act of, Arketype by Andy Edwards, at The Tron. A retelling of the story of Noah, after a climate change induced flood, with an unhappy family working out their problems in the few dry corners they have left. We're looking forward to seeing how it ends.

Then we went to San Diego by David Greig, performed by the students at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. A sprawling, dream-like epic about belonging and ritual in a nondescript town devoid of either, it had some stand-out performances and great energy. 

And lastly we went to a new sci-fi play, Unconventional, at Websters by new writer and director Matthew Barton from Bickering Theatre. It's refreshing to have a new play in a mainstream genre that theatre doesn't usually touch. It 's mostly a homage to Doctor Who with nods to Terry Pratchett, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Futurama, held together by the brilliantly puppyish Kristy Pickering as the time travelling Baz. 

Things to Read

The Science of Storytelling
by Will Storr
This isn't a how to book about storytelling, it's a why to. Why do stories connect to the deepest part of our psyche and why should we write them. Partly this new interest in storytelling is to fill the authority gap left when the Western world became liberal, secular and pluralistic. What stories can we tell that will bring us together and internalize enough of a value system to keep our political units functioning, because as it turns out, humans need myths as much as they need facts. What myths we have is up to us. Storr leads us through the components of our personal and collective narratives; World, Self, Dramatic Questions, and Endings. It's concise but full of information and insights, with no waffle or padding. It makes a natural companion to John York's Into The Woods, a How To, based on the same premise, that stories are a natural instinct and we use them to learn, to work through problems, and to bring order to our lives. 'In life our 'plots' emerge out of who we are. It's the active decisions that we make that create the events of our days. These decisions reflect our character - our values, flaws, personality and goals. It's in this way that the lives we lead emerge out of the people we are. This is true in life and it should also be true in story'.  

We've also been reading The Remains of the Day this month. In 2014 Kazuo Ishiguro wrote this piece for The Guardian on how he came to write his Booker prize winning novel. He wrote the bulk of it in a period he refers to as the 'Crash'. "During the Crash, I would do nothing but write from 9am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday. I’d get one hour off for lunch and two for dinner. I’d not see, let alone answer, any mail, and would not go near the phone." He also speaks of a couple of his less obvious influences from film and music.

Twitter Writing Chat

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

Advice for writers making portfolios from writer Sonia Weiser.

Joe Douglas talks about taking Live Theatre's production of The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil  out on tour.

Empress of the Snark offers a number of hints and tips if you're doing your own PR for Edinburgh.

Teacher Brett Summersby asked for examples of poetry activities and got a number of good replies.

A thread by Reviews and Tings on reviewers receiving unsolicited feedback from the shows they've reviewed.

Writer Sarah Maria Griff talks about the harm bookshops selling uncorrected proofs can do. She later tweeted an update.

Playwright and director Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir talks here about impostor syndrome.

Things Coming Up We Recommend

Tandem Writing Collective are at The Tron in Glasgow on Tuesday 4th June. We already have our tickets.
Jane Sunderland's play The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth is at Hillhead Library as part of the West End Festival. This play was first performed with SAST last year. It's a one woman show featuring Gillian Massey. It's on Friday 7th, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June at 3pm. Tickets are £5.83 and available from Eventbrite.
The Loch Inn, a debut play by Carrie Dodds and directed by Victoria J Valliere. is on as part of the Glasgow West End Festival, The Loch Inn will be showing at Websters Theatre on 25th & 26th June at 7:30pm.

With a deadly virus spreading, four bar staff locked in by their high tech security system are forced to examine the actions they have taken in their life and what's important to them..

Tickets, only available online, are available from Tickets Ignite
At time of writing there weren't many tickets left for Knives in Hens at the Lyceum on 11th June. A unique concert reading of one of the most successful Scottish plays of the 20th century in memory of Pauline Knowles (1967-2018). 

Sonnet Youth have a great line up for only £5 at Drygate in Glasgow on 19th June and Gilded Balloon on 20th June. The info is on their Facebook page.


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

The deadline to apply for a funded residence at Cove Park is 3rd June.

Page2Stage Edinburgh are looking for short plays for their show 25 June. Deadline is Monday 3rd.

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. 

Cannongate have a vacancy for an Audio and Online Assistant. The deadline is 7th June.

The Traverse have a Scottish Playwrights' Residency Programme in Japan for professional playwrights. The deadline is 10th June.

A Play, a Pie and a Pint are currently recruiting for the role of Assistant Producer.

The Scottish Book Trust have opened their New Writing Awards for 2020. You can apply until 3rd July.

The Breakdown are looking for pitches on mental health.

Spotlight are looking for freelance content contributors.

The Scotland Women's National Team are at the World Cup this month. If you want to write a poem to celebrate their success The Hampden Collection’s Poet-In-Chief, Jim Mackintosh would like to hear from you.
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.

June's SAST Shows

We're at the Gilded Balloon Basement Theatre on Rose Street on Wednesday 12th June with six plays inspired by Kate Bush songs. They were all part of our script-in-hand performances in May. Tickets are only £5 and available from the Gilded Balloon website.

 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.

Fraser Campbell - Fraser had a health scare recently and he's written a brilliant blogpost about what he and his family have gone through.

Chris McQueer - Chris adapted some of his stories from his book Hings for television. Three shorts are available on the BBC iPlayer. He wrote a lovely article on Medium about meeting his father for the first time. He appears on episode 6 of Sanjeev Kohli's Big Talk also available on the BBC iPlayer. His latest short story collection HWFG is available from all good bookshops and publishers 404 Ink

Elaine Malcomson - Elaine was on Fred at the Stand on Radio Four this month. Elaine was also nominated for a Scottish Comedy Award in the Best Writer category. 

Tom Murray - Tom will be chairing and asking the questions at a couple of events at this years Borders Book Festival in Melrose. Firstly he'll be talking to Suzie Wilde about her book Obsidian on Thursday evening 13th June, then Bill Jones about his new novel Black Camp 21 on Sunday 16th June, He will also be reading his poems at the launch of the Borders Writers Forum anthology 'Coast and Countryside' at the Borders Book Festival on the 13th June. As Open Book Lead Reader for the Scottish Borders Tom will be facilitating his third Open Book Workshop at Eyemouth Library 26th June at 2.30pm. It is free and a drop in, no need to book.

Julie McDowall - Julie is in The Times (paywall) this week sorting out fact from fiction in HBO's great mini-series Chernobyl. Julie was interviewed recently in Newsweek about her experiences in Chernobyl. She was also recently featured in The Guardian discussing her synaesthesia. Julie recently appeared on the Barshens podcast on Soundcloud and YouTube. Julie puts out a weekly podcast on how we prepared for nuclear war called The Atomic Hobo

Eve Nicol - It was announced recently that Eve has written a play adaptation of Belle and Sebastian's album If You're Feeling Sinister. It'll be part of the Edinburgh Fringe at Gilded Balloon, Doonstairs from 31st July to 26th August (excluding 12th August) at 3:45pm.
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 July.
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Short Attention Span Theatre · 2 Berl Avenue · Houston · Johnstone, Renfrewshire PA67JJ · United Kingdom

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