Writing

Countdown to the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival

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Hello world.

 

I have exciting news.

My fantastic, funereal farce Bleeding with Mother is part of this years Greater Manchester Fringe Festival.

BWM revised May 2017 poster

We open on the 4th July at 7pm at Theatre 53Two. The hottest new theatre space in the city of Manchester, and the perfect location to resurrect ‘Mother’

Following on from the success of the previous production last year, I am delighted to have obtained the original cast.

Excitingly, director Emma Bird is a welcome recruit to the Bleeding team fresh from directing our very own Randall (Pete Gibson) in his monologue performed in North West Wonders.

Rehearsals began this weekend so please come back to my website as I’ll ensure that I keep you up to date. This year I have the added pressure of producer so if it all goes wrong……well that’ll be the plot for the next play that I write.

It would be wonderful to see as many people as possible for our Bleeding fantastic show.

Performances are on Tuesday 4th July, Wednesday 5th July and Thursday 6th July at 7pm. To buy them click here.

There will also be limited copies of the playtext available to purchase on the night.

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Proper writer now?

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I’ve always loved to write, I’ve always enjoyed reading and I’ve always loved books.

Clayton Green library was like a second home to me when I was a teenager. The library staff knew me by name as I would be there every single day in the long summer holidays.

I could be found sitting in the corner reading books as my library card only allowed me to take four library books away. I could read four library books in a couple of hours back then. I am talking Sweet Valley High’s Wakefield sisters rather than the Bronte Sisters, so the books were thin rather than War and Peace volume.

I enjoyed being in a fictional world with characters that I would never come across on a Saturday afternoon in Preston.

I also loved to write my own stories using those fictional characters that I read about.

Secretly, I longed to see my name on the front of a book cover like all of those famous authors whose work I enjoyed. I would wonder whether Francine Pascal or Jackie Collins would get excited about seeing their words in print for the public to see. I bet they did.

So I’m delighted to say that tomorrow afternoon I will be spending an hour taking part in a book launch for Write for the Stage Publications (WFTS) and my first play Bleeding with Mother is on sale.
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I still can’t quite believe it. A play written by me, in print, with my name on the front cover. If I never do anything again, at least on my bookshelf which is stacked with printed copies of stageplays and screenwriting bibles; Willie Russell, Lena Dunham, Blake Snyder and Robert McKee is now a Sarah Cassidy. Does that mean I can say that I’m a proper writer now?image

The Write for the Stage Publications launch event is part of Greater Manchester Fringe Festival and is taking place at 4pm at The Kings Arms, Bloom Street, Salford, M3 6AN
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Bleeding with Mother

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There is good reason for the blog sileIMG_2881nce over the past few months. A real creative surge!

I can announce some fantastic news in that the upcoming production of my debut stage
play ‘Bleeding with Mother‘ will be playing in my hometown of Manchester during May 2016. Ticket details here.

This play has seen a very long, yet incredible journey from concept to the rehearsal room in just under three years. I am currently scribing a separate blog about the birth of this play. It holds very dear in my heart as I feel that ‘Bleeding with Mother‘ has grown in character as much as I’ve grown as a writer over the past three years. IMG_2901

The community radio soap which I co-write Station Road is also back on the airwaves this week after a long break. It is wonderful to hear it again, and reminds me of how much I have developed throughout that incredible experience of being part of a writing team for the past two years. You can listen live on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5.30pm on ALL FM 96.9

And finally I’ve been undertaking an intensive block of script development sessions with Scriptwriting North which resulted in a first draft of a brand new radio drama which was table-red by professional actors last week.

To say 2016 has been a productive year is an understatement. It’s been fuelled by coffee, a new laptop and a great deal of support.
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#TalentCampus a life changing experience

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London Screenwriters Festival – First EVER Talent Campus 2015

As I boarded the 6am train from Manchester to Stockport last weekend, I was still in shock after being selected to participate in the 2015 London Screenwriters Festival (LSF) ‘Talent Campus. Having received the phone call confirming my place on the Monday I only had a few days to find myself transport and accommodation for the ‘Ignition’ weekend.

On the train ride to London I was riddled with nerves, not only as it was going to be my first experience using AirBnB, my imagination being rife with serial killers, but also sharing the same space as the incredible talent that awaited me in the form of the other delegates.

Entering Ealing Studios increased the anticipation and nerves. Luckily through the fantastic LSF network that I was active in I recognised a couple of people and felt slightly more at ease. We were rounded up and taken to our base for the next couple of days and typical me headed straight to the back of the room. Chris Jones gave us a number of messages throughout the morning about the structure of the Talent Campus which involves ten days of intense screenwriting experiences plus writing weeks with a mentor.

Discussing fears was a common theme during day one and it was a clear indication of why so many of us writers feel stuck in our writing careers. Positivity and belief was something which Chris kept referring to and ended up with me walking on glass at the end of the day. Crazy I know, given that I was more scared about having to stand up and introduce myself in the afternoon than walking barefoot on glass. But strangely telling everyone that most of the time I feel like a fraud and that one day soon I will be found out was scarier than potentially slitting my feet open. Talent Campus has certainly ignited!

Stephen Follows gave a fascinating insight into the types of movies that receive investment and patterns which have emerged in recent years. The stats are not great for sports movies which is my current project, but for comedy is slightly better. Even so, my project will be more of a calling card. It’s a story I feel passionately about and that I want to write which is something that echoed throughout the weekend – write where your passion is.

12015069_10153497299290091_5261957336951402956_oJohn Yorke’s session on structure was like a breath of fresh air. He took the complicated structures that we read so much about in Robert McKee, Syd Field and Blake Snyder to an extent and explained in such simple terms that I felt like I had a lightbulb moment listening to him. It was also so valuable to hear about the structure of television which is something that is discussed less than the screenplay. I even spoke to him in the break and complimented his approach which is something I rarely climb out of my introvert self to do.

The session on social media was insightful – led by expert Lucy V Hay who holds no punches when delivering her talks. It certainly made me re-think how I use facebook as a tool. Lucy was joined by actress/writer and filmmaker Vanessa Bailey who opened up the world of Instagram to me. Now I thought I was quite an expert at social media without really appreciating how much Instagram is used today. Vanessa opened my eyes up to this visual medium and how I could use it to promote myself as a writer. Gone are the days of just taking photographs of my tea or my cats – thanks to Vanessa I see this area in a whole new light and something to work on in the future.

12052508_10153497621425091_8732243746859876171_oThe amazingly, super-talented and extremely patient Kate Leys delivered an inspiring day where she took us all back to basics with story. She dissected each of the twenty-eight campus members story ideas in front of everyone including the mentors. She treated each of us the same, and every comment or observation was thoroughly appreciated by us. When it came to my project Kate offered advice, research and told me that she would go and see the film if it was ever made which was the biggest compliment ever.

The Talent Campus was a lot of hard work, but we had time for some fun games which really brought out people’s personalities as we had to work as a team to get our hands on an Oscar winning script. Not for the faint-hearted and really did show us all that perhaps collaboration is a way forward when needed.12080249_10153497621415091_6478357696794230199_o

Going forward and with our mentors on board, there is now a three week writing period to put as much preparation into the LSF week as possible. I’ll be having weekly skype meetings with my mentor Karol Griffiths to get my project to the stage where I can pitch it comfortably at the festival. A lot of hard work will be endured between now and festival week but that is what the appeal of Talent Campus is – strict deadlines amongst a sea of supportive peers.

Finally, I left the first campus weekend feeling confident, assertive and privileged to be going through such an incredible journey with my fellow campers. These people really are uber-talented, supportive and hopefully will remain friends at the end of the ten weeks.

Welcome to Station Road

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This week has seen the premiere broadcast of the radio soap that I’ve been co-writing for the past fourteen months.image

Station Road is a continuing radio drama about life in a fictitious and gritty Manchester street. Not only do the characters work and live on Station Road but there is also a public house, café, urban farm and a corner shop.

Hearing the scripts come alive for the first time on Saturday was quite simply marvellous. A couple of the writers, myself included were interviewed live in the studio at ALL FM prior to the episode being aired.

The episode was played mid-interview, and it was pretty special not imageonly hearing our scripts come to life but we also have a theme tune. An actual catchy theme tune that we’ve since been humming in our script meetings.

A surreal moment yesterday as I left work to drive to the weekly Station Road writers meeting, the pilot was played out again during ALL FM’s Drivetime show and as I sat in traffic, I felt such pride listening to the scene that I wrote

Check out our blog which is all about the show and tune in at 17:30 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ALL FM 96.9 www.allfm.org

Writing as a team

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Collaborative Writing

It’s been a while since I wrote about how I am finding being part of the writers group for the radio soap.

Twelve months on and we are a core of six writers, meeting weekly and we have currently written 168 scenes on our brand new community radio soap opera.

It has been an organic process to get to where we are. Twelve months ago there were fifteen writers at the very first session and to be honest it would have been chaos if it had continued to be that number, and I’m not sure that I would have been in it for the long haul either.

As the initial weeks passed by a writer would stop coming to the meetings until we found it to be the same six writers that would turn up each week.

This was a good number of people to have involved in the process. It meant that we were able to really get to grips with the characters that we created, the world that the soap is set in and without a large number of people to get their point across meant that storylining is more of less a discussion rather than a battle.

Within the team there are various expert areas. A stand-up comedian, a short story professional, an actor, a novice and a radio writer/presenter. With our diverse backgrounds I think we get the best from our characters and we all more or less write our scenes with the same tone, and voice.

Our weekly meetings consist of reading through the previous weeks scenes. This is my favourite part as it’s enjoyable hearing the characters come to life and from something that we’d discussed briefly during story lining to actually having full scenes which feed into the overall soap feels like an accomplishment.

The writer of the scene to be read aloud has to talk briefly about the scene, where the conflict is and what is the change from the beginning to the end of the scene. Some scenes are harder than others to do this.

After the read throughs, we then look into the stories for the next week. Where our characters are up to in terms of their story lines and which characters are needed to assist in developing the story further.

We’ve been a writing group for a year now and it has passed really quickly. The actors were cast before Christmas and recordings are made each week. It’ll be really good to finally hear it on air though, something that I am looking forward to.

A number of things that I have learned from my experience of being part of a collaborative group of writers.
• Discussions amongst more than one person can generate a raft of ideas.
• If a character hasn’t got a solid back-story and biog then writers can really struggle when it comes to putting that character under conflict. It’s important that this is nailed down at the very start of introducing this character otherwise it never seems believable.
• Drop-box is a valuable tool for sharing ideas and scripts.
• Being part of a writing team keeps you motivated. We meet on a Monday night and on several occasions when I’ve had a really tough day at work, what I’ve really wanted to do is go home to rest. Knowing that there are five people relying on you means that you have to attend. I’ve never been to a meeting and not come away feeling motivated again.
• Being taught to listen to others and let go of your own great ideas if the group decide that something else works better.
• Learning to compromise and not feel precious about an idea.

I’m sure there will be more to blog about as the year progresses.

Once I get the official airtime date I will ensure I update this site.

 

Collaborative writing team

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I thought it was time to write a brief update to follow on from a series of blog entries that I posted last year about collaborative writing.

I joined a Manchester community radio station exactly a year ago after seeing a call out for writers for a new soap that they were launching.

Initially approximately 15 people were at the first session. Everybody was very keen and enthusiastic to get involved in the project. After all, we’re all human ad our very nature is to want to be part of a group with a common interest.

As the weeks passed by the numbers began to dwindle until after three months it became a core team of six, including myself.

We had a list of characters with their own biogs and back story, we had a map of the road and various areas of interest such as a pub, cafe, bistro, farm and garage. Now to come up with a name.

We settled on the name ‘Station Road’ given that our radio station is next door to a train station and the fictional world that is our soap is meant to be local.

The next part was to now start writing the thing.

The team comprises of various writers from short story experts, comedy, theatre writers, novices and me.

Luckily I’d written a radio drama in a group for one of my modules on my masters degree so I was able to share the tools that we used in terms of