The American-born playwright Olwen Wymark, who spent much of her working life in England and was a long-standing member of the Writers' Guild, has died.
Her plays include Find Me, Gymnasium, Loved, Best Friends and Strike Up The Banns. Olwen also wrote for extensively for radio and television.
Olwen was Chair of the Writers' Guild Theatre Committee for many years.
Olivia Hetreed is the new President of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, following a vote at the Guild's AGM
Olivia, best known for scripting the hugely successful film Girl With A Pearl Earring, has served for several years as Chair of the Guild's Film Committee and a member of our Executive Council. Olivia started her career as a documentary, drama and film editor and moved into writing with a series of family films for ITV including The Treasure Seekers and The Canterville Ghost. Other credits include the award-winning Man of Law’s Tale for the BBC and the feature film Wuthering Heights, released in 2011. She is currently in development with Philip and Liz, the love story of the young Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth. Olivia’s unopposed election as President was announced at today’s Guild Annual General Meeting. She takes over from the eminent playwright David Edgar, who has been our distinguished President for the past six years.
Christos Callow Jr. introduces a call for papers for a conference on science fiction theatre
Stage The Future will be, to my knowledge, the first academic conference on science fiction theatre. The idea for such an event came last year when I realised that science fiction and theatre can produce fascinating results when combined.
The first thing to do was to decide where a conference should happen and with whom I would organise it. There are almost no academics researching this subject, but there’s another PhD student – and fellow SF playwright – Susan Gray, who’s researching SF Theatre for her PhD. I wrote to her and I’m happy to say she accepted, so we started planning the conference.
But just what is SF Theatre exactly?
Science fiction theatre could be the answer to how – and why – theatre would survive the modern digital age; it could also attract an important part of the young generation, namely the geeks, to theatres where they’d get much more than the big budget visual effects of Hollywood.
As a genre, science fiction theatre can contribute to both science fiction and theatre, offering new insights, new ways of exploring the relationship between humanity and technology and, of course, new challenges for theatre-makers. Indeed, this could well be the theatre of the future.
Dinah Rose QC (author of the BBC's Respect at Work Review) will be part of the panel at an event staged by the union BECTU on Tuesday 18th June called Britain’s Got Bullies: Bullying in The Creative Sector.
The session will be chaired by Lisa Campbell, Broadcast editor. Other contributors will include Graham Russell (Change Associates), Donna Taberer (BBC), Anne-Marie Quigg (author of Bullying in the Arts) and Rebecca Peyton (actor and playwright) and sister to the former BBC journalist Kate Peyton who was killed in Somalia in 2005.
This is part of a larger event, the BECTU Freelance Fair , which has sessions covering professional development and networking for film and TV workers people.
There is a booking fee of £10.00 to attend any of the sessions including Britain’s Got Bullies for those who are not BECTU members.
Full details: http://www.bectu.org.uk/news/1937
Paul Goetzee reflects on his recent trip to the Cannes Film Festival with the Maison des Scénaristes
Are you a scénariste? Or are you an auteur?
In France apparently all screenwriters are expected to be auteurs. A legacy of the anti-literary La Nouvelle Vague, Les Cahiers du Cinéma, Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer and all, no doubt. There is no such thing as a writer in film, only an auteur, which my French dictionary defines as ‘author, creator... perpetrator’ – the last one probably very apt in a lot of film-making.
However, as far as Sarah Gurévick and Nicolas Zappi, founders of the Maison des Scénaristes (the House of Screenwriters) are concerned, writers should not have to be burdened with the obligation to direct. They are screenwriters, not auteurs, creators nor indeed perpetrators.
This may sound odd to English ears. I don’t know about you, but as a screenwriter I feel I’m constantly being nagged to ‘write visually’, ‘think like a director’ and so on. In France this is a given. You think up your story, plan your film... then get behind the camera and make it.
I have to admit I do like directing as well as writing. Whether I am any good at it is another matter. I like planning the whole project from the back of the envelope to the back of beyond. I like working with actors. I like designing sets and costumes, drawing up shooting scripts and storyboards. But a lot of writers I know don’t care about directing – whether it’s a play, a film or anything else. That’s someone else’s job. Someone with more energy, skill and, well, hubris. Writers are there to come up with a good story, then tussle with and defeat all the little narrative gremlins of plot, structure and character motivation that almost always – no, always – rear their beastly little heads.
So what exactly is Maison des Scénaristes (MdS) and how did I come to take part in their event in Cannes?
William Gallagher on what to write between the dialogue
Alan Plater used to read my scripts and you know that he was tremendously useful, you know he was kind. But let me say it anyway: he was terrifically useful and he was really kind, most especially on the very first one. The Strawberry Thief – I still like the title – got the full Plater treatment in the 1990s and I've remembered every word he wrote me.
The key part, I think, was what you'd now call a praise sandwich or at least a criticism with a bit of a praise topping. He told me that my stage directions had regularly made him laugh aloud, but that my job was to get that life and humour into the dialogue instead. Because, after all, the audience never sees the stage descriptions.
I also remember that when I next did a script, his key comment was that I'd done this, I'd got the energy into where it could be seen. He said it was 'a great step for writer-kind'.
I've only recently realised quite how much he shaped me in how I write descriptions in scripts. I'm a dialogue man, I'm a dialogue fan, that's where I would've said I put my attention and effort and – however much it is – my talent. No, I'm hesitating over that word. Can I go again? I'm a dialogue fan, that's where I would've said I put my attention and effort and – however fast it is – my typing.
But I wrote a book about Alan's The Beiderbecke Affair and he has great descriptions in there. What's more, he wrote them with a very canny eye toward getting cast and crew to read them where usually they, well, don't.
'That’s right, actors don’t,' said James Bolam in my book. 'You go yeah, yeah, but his you read. I mean, his stage directions are worth a read in themselves. They’re so funny, some of them, and they’re so evocative. They create the mood that he wants, that he feels, that he thinks. They’re all done in the same way, not sort of stuck in there but part of the narrative.'
He also had a way of writing just the right amount. He'd conjure that mood in a very short line and sometimes they'd be funny, always they'd be efficient: you'd get his point immediately and you'd enjoy getting it. So – again, I'm ripping off my own book here, but – take this for an example of apparently simple, short, description. It's from The Beiderbecke Affair:
SC. 11 EXT. TREVOR'S FLAT – NIGHT
Establishing shot of Trevor's flat. The cityscape of Leeds, lights shining like it was LA.