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Notes from a scriptwriting workshop

doodle with the face of a creature drawn with simple line and shading

Angela Street: The Art of Scriptwriting. Image © Gi

Just look at me and concentrate. That, I think, might have freaked me out. No. No, no. It was good. We paired up and concentrated hard with each other as we were each asked to think of a tune. It’s amazing how much your face conveys. Some of us guessed the actual tune being thought about and the others were all close.

My creator heart was doing cartwheels of delight. Oh yes, yes. I want to write scripts with great sub-text, for actors who can do that. I want to watch my imagination come to life – in someone else’s body, independent of me.

We’ll start with this … I grow a little in my chair, our workshop leader fills me with confidence, and I reach for my sheet of paper.

Talk about gob-smacked. Here was something written by a ten-year-old. It contained wisdom unrealised by many adults, it promised commitment and it pictured dreams.

And under the guidance of a professional and inspiring workshop leader, it translated into an exercise that was neither intimidating nor clunky.

Four half-finished sentences to complete and elaborate on when we came to the reveal. Three chances at each. I felt my brain stretch from timid to bold. Felt it stretch from the safe, to the challenging and through to the funny.

Oops, was that me? The humourless, Scandi-noir me?

“We’ve got to understand … that there is no-such thing as an impartial observer.”
I get a chance to explain about the dual nature of light and how the mere presence of an observer causes it to change state. I’m safe here. I know the science.

“If we ignore … Donald Trump he might go away…”
“If we ignore … Teresa May, she won’t.”
“If we ignore … Boris, he’ll just act up some more”
I never claimed I was a comedian, but for me that was…funny.

The next challenge comes from a car. Cars go places, in weather, with drivers. Cars have features, selling points and destinations and would you believe it – more humour.

The G2 glides over the water,
hugs the shoreline beneath Fujisan,
where mist veils its crown.
The G2 lurches and twists over and through the water monster:
the G2 used to be a convertible, but the mechanism is jammed.
It has however been adapted to run on environmentally hot air.
Other extras include:
a pause button,
a freedom pass
and spasmodic offers of therapy.
The G2 is designed to
and feed your children
It is programmed to seek out world destinations that promise
excitement, novelty and yes, a hint of danger.

When I have explored me as a ‘new’ amphibian vehicle, I get to play with Tracy and Paul (of Heavenly Dresses) as a unicycle. Trust me, not my choices.

We’ve arrived at that point in the session where you write some great words on bits of paper and are then obliged to let go, to hand them over; to work with someone else’s potentially meaningless ideas. Or in this case potentially funny/ naughty ideas?

The unicycle collapses on the football pitch.
Righted, it wobbles along the white lines
flapping lace and sparkle in the breeze.
Tracy and Paul do fit, fatness and fanatics
with heavenly air-bags of pure silk,
a frame encrusted in Swarovski crystal
and a horn of folded sequins.
Tracy and Paul are not suitable for under 18s
they require a non-judgemental attitude from any adult
willing to sit astride their plump saddle.
They collapse frequently under the weight of
zips, buttons, poppers and Velcro,
but their destination can only be Hollywood.

The hoots of laughter from my fellow participants felt good.

We then read a script about gherkins and I’m there, anguished in the sub-text. The jars of hope lingering in my larder bare witness to the roots of my empathy. The Brexit rejection scar is still raw and visible.

Great scripts get under your skin, I launched myself into the next challenge wondering if my wounds would help or hinder me:

Why are you packing that?
I’m taking it.
I need to find its other half.
You lost it.
That why I need to take it – to find the bottom bit.
That’s ridiculous. It’s lost.
I need it.
Get another.
I want this one. It’s special.
Now you’re just acting like an idiot. Leave it here, then at least one half is safe.
No. I can do this. I can put it back together.
In your dreams. Are you aware of just how stupid you sound?
I don’t care. It was meant to be mine. Its fate, I know I can find the other half.
… Get real.

Oh! I’ve written a script…

I suddenly get to realise an omission. I’ve not mentioned the food, the best yet. Totally delicious, but I forgot all about it, working while I nibbled, focused on the task.
And blessed by hope, encouragement, approval, I’ve even partially released my grip on the gherkin desolation, my stored jars of false hope. It’s not that I suddenly feel I belong, more a sense that maybe I can: can be, can create, can do this complex creative scriptwriting thing.

If I work at it…

LinkUpArts script-writing workshop at Salisbury Arts Centre, was led by Angela Street as part of the Travels series of Awards for All funded workshops.

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