A birthday tribute from David Edgar, President of the Writers' Guild
(Photo of Arnold Wesker by Leon Kreel)
Today is the 80th birthday of one of the greatest playwrights of the last 60 years. For me, it's also the birthday of a friend, with whom I have broken bread, addressed conferences, traversed Eastern Europe and, on occasions, done all three. Along with all my colleagues at the Writers' Guild, I offer heartiest congratulations to Arnold Wesker.
Properly, this event has been marked by a Weskerfest. Along with a celebration of his work at the King's Head, revivals of three of his most enduring plays (The Kitchen at the National Theatre, Chicken Soup With Barley at the Royal Court and Roots at Theatre Clwyd) have reminded audiences how central Arnold's work was to the golden era of playwriting at the Royal Court in the late 1950s, and has remained to the British theatre which flowed from it. Arnold and his colleagues put the character of contemporary British society at the centre of the British stage, where it has remained ever since.
Guild launches Guidelines for writers and those working with writers in the comics, cartoon strip and illustrated story industries
Written in consultation with writers working across the comics industry these new guidelines provide an overview of the rates and conditions writers should expect. Be you an industry veteran, or looking to sell your first work don’t sign a contract without reading this document first.
Download the guidelines (pdf)
Dublin 7-10 June
John Ford Ireland presents a four day event focusing on film and filmmaking, inspired and informed by the work of Irish-American director John Ford and his ongoing influence on contemporary cinema.
Leading filmmakers and creatives including directors Peter Bogdanovich, Jim Sheridan and John Boorman and writers Patrick McCabe, Colin Bateman and Paul Fraser will participate in a varied programme of industry events, masterclasses, lectures and screenings.
For more information or to register for a Season Pass go to www.johnfordireland.org
Darren Rapier talks to two-time Tinniswood Award winner Stephen Wyatt about his writing for radio, stage and television.
Available as a podcast on iTunes, or via the Writers' Guild app for iPhone and iPad.
How did you get started as a writer?
I was always obsessed with writing. I was the sort of kid who filled up notebooks with plays and bombarded the school magazine with endless articles. But when I started to study English Literature, first for O Level, then A Level and then at university, the creativity rather dried up. I became very self-conscious and it was only towards the end of my university time that I started writing again. I did a PhD and began a career as an academic, but it was not for me and, quite soon, and I gave it up and became a freelance writer.
Have you found the PhD to be useful in your writing?
In some ways; it was in 19th Century popular theatre and so gave me a very broad idea of what theatre can be. It has also been of practical use. I did two radio series of adaptations of stories by W.S. Gilbert, which we called Gilbert Without Sullivan, and that was directly drawing on what I discovered during my PhD.
I understand that you got involved with the Footlights at Cambridge...
Yes, I directed a Footlights review called Every Packet Carries A Government Health Warning. But I realised I wasn’t really a light-entertainment writer or producer, it’s just not my temperament. Then I got a job as writer-researcher with the Coventry Theatre and Education Team, which I did for a year was quite difficult for me because it was a very new sort of world, but it did mean that I really learned to think about the purpose of each show.
A report, some musings and some things to come, by Andy Walsh
An introduction by Anne Hogben
This event was the third successful gathering of members of the WGGB and Directors UK. The last one was held, along with producers from PACT and actors from Equity, at BAFTA during the London Film Festival last October. That was a different, more structured, type of event. All participants had to submit a proposal in writing in advance, about a project already in development so it was aimed at members of all four organisations, e.g. a writer with a script looking for a producer, a director looking for an actor, or a producer looking for a director so it can had a Speed Networking feel to it ('I am a … looking for a ….'). I was delighted to get several messages afterwards from Guild members who had attended telling me that their projects were moving on as a result of brief encounters made that evening. I hope we can organise something similar during the 2012 London Film Festival – running from 10–25 October. I’d welcome any suggestions from members about holding a similar event during the LFF.
Anne Hogben is Deputy General Secretary of the Writers' Guild
The Elizabethan alchemist and enigma Dr John Dee noted that by mixing writers with directors in a darkened room one could create gunpowder. Four hundred years later and the appearance of a writer’s name on a mobile phone leads to a moment of prescience…what is to follow for the next half hour will be war stories. ‘Director steals credit, plot ravaged and twisted beyond recognition and the swine never even bought a round.’