Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Living in Dystopia

Monday March 21st is the last day of the term, and so we come to our customary competition. This time the theme is Living in Dystopia. Usual rules apply.

7.30 at the North London Tavern


Peter Thompson writes:

The competition theme of Dystopia attracted seven well-turned entries, each coming at it from a different angle. Michael Barry’s HISTORY OF THE WILD VOGELS over-ran but we enjoyed every minute of Hitler’s Last Stand [a terrifying performance by Phil Mison] in a farmhouse in Galway where the kindly landowner, Stephen Cavanagh, forms the last remnants of the Reich into a singing group, The Wild Vogels: they earn their keep by singing in Bars and Family Hotels and gorge on the delicious pastries provided by beautiful Eva Braun aka Natasha Staples.

Natasha switched to a wonderful West Coast accident in a dialogue with a pump attendant in Oregon [where such ready listeners are to be found apparently].  The title RITZMED did not give much away and only a late reference to the Wall of Mexico hinted at a dystopic future, but Sian Williams kept us chuckling and scored 157 points.

Peter Thompson’s TEMPLE OF LOVE contemplated the conversion of an ancient parish church into a spiritually led brothel [“evening services at St Salome’s”] where sinners could resort for love and forgiveness or, if preferred, mortification of the flesh in Miss Hardbroom’s specially equipped crypt: fifth place with 177 points.

Michael Barry’s IT MIGHT BE DYSTOPIA came fourth with 183 points. It was about a commune set up by Pete Picton and Denise O’Leary which turned out to have much more discipline than the world outside and proved a turn-off for drop-outs like feisty newcomer, Megan Gilmartin.

There was a tie for second place with 190 points:  Lynne O’Sullivan turned in A BREAK IN UTOPIA, a very neat story of how a cheating husband, Phil Philmar, turns up at the Utopia hotel in Italy expecting to meet up with his latest girlfriend but has a surprise visit from his wife.  What went wrong? The silly fellow ignored the concertina player’s advice to toss a coin into the wishing well and UTOPIA became DYSTOPIA, geddit.  Marriage under stress featured in Elaine Clayton’s A ROOM WITH NO VIEW in which a priapic Clive Greenwood, in great Carry On form, had the tables turned on him by his vengeful wife who set him up for permanent confinement in a subterranean hospital room.

Way out in front was Peter Skyte’s disturbing glimpse of 2084 (211 points) in which Richard Evans gave a heart-rending performance as a 136 year old who turns up on a hospital appointment to see a consultant about his prostate and finds that “the system” not only fails to acknowledge his appointment but won’t even let him use the toilet.  Help, please get me back quickly to the present day!

Thanks to all participants and particularly to Christa Engelbrecht who set it all up to run like clockwork and to Chukwudi Onwere who delivered a very entertaining evening to a full house and presented certificates to the winners.  Well done, all.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Away Like Snow

Monday 14th March brings us a stageplay written by Peter Vincent and Mary Conway. Given that both have won P-P awards as individuals, their collaboration should be doubly as good.

As Peter explains:

"Time present and time
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past...'

T.S.Eliot said that, still does, always will. Why not?

'Away Like Snow' is set in a family home that lies between Romney Marsh and the endless sound of the sea. The time is 1940. It is also 1999. The times are indivisible. Each flows, merges and conjoins with the other. Our ancestors live on within us. just as we live on in the next generation. Not only their genes but their times are moving within us.
Beware! The sweet song of temptation is heard by all of at all times. The lady still sits in her chamber late, the gypsies still sing at her castle gate,
And her heart still melts. Still melts - away like snow.

7.30 at the North London Tavern.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

When, Why, and How To Be Published

Monday March 7th brings us our third guest speaker of the term, in the shape of James Hogan, who founded Oberon Press in 1986, and still runs the company.

Oberon publishes about 80-100 new plays per year by established and new playwrights. James's own first plays were read by Player-Playwrights in 1962, when it used the British Drama League studio theatre in Fitzroy Street.

James's first professionally produced play was at the fledgling Gate Theatre, Notting Hill; in fact, the first original play produced there (1978). He has recently returned to playwriting with productions at the Print Room and the Jermyn Street Theatre. His next play, Dizzy Fingers, opens at JST in May. He will also talk about his beginnings with Player- Playwrights and its open door policy at The Green Man in 1962. His own writing, and publishing, grew out of that experience, because, he says, P-P took beginners seriously.

7.30 at the North London Tavern.