We had barely got back from the summer holidays when ten students were chosen by the Drama Department to take part in The National Theatre’s scriptwriting competition, New Views. We all have to write an original, 30 minute play, which if it wins, stands a chance of being produced and performed by professional actors at the National Theatre! After being told that we were up against 14-19 year olds nationwide, our small group was relatively high spirited and determined to impress.
The workshops have definitely been fun to take part in. Each week we study a variety of texts and techniques to develop our writing skills. There is, to put it plainly, something great about sharing the best or worst ideas that enter into your head. Ironically our session weekly after school produces things you think you couldn’t write - and yet we are writing them. Parallel universes have been conquered by huge corporations, tales like Robin Hood have made a re-appearance in a more modern context, and issues such as schizophrenia are all possible subjects we have discussed.
But the learning hasn’t been contained just to school; we have been on a trip to the National Theatre to see a take on the legend of George and the Dragon - where a knight suddenly finds himself exchanging his suit of armour for a nylon suit of shell - and finds himself out of place and out of step with most of the values that were once championed by him. This was a great concept that was inspiration for our own writing.
Most recently however, we had our first writer’s visit - where Chris Hill, a published playwright, tried to usher our group through the maze of pitfalls and tripwires that most writers get stuck on. Chris was great at giving advice and worked with us on characterisation, also showing us how to make our plays interesting rather than just rules of thumb. Ms Le Marquand has also been guiding us in how to turn our ideas into theatre, as many of us have ended up writing film scripts more than once, which are surprisingly different from the ones designed to be watched on a stage.
I have really enjoyed New Views for several reasons; firstly, learning how to write using only dialogue to exhibit a character’s personality, is an interesting challenge, and one I haven’t done before…I have found it a more human way of telling a story. However, the best bit about the course, is hearing (what you consider) other people’s quite out there ideas - before reading yours out and being told they are completely crazy! Our first draft is due in a couple of weeks’ time, and after this, Chris Hill will return to give each of us a one to one session to help develop our ideas. I don’t know if one of us will be the overall winner of the competition, but we have certainly enjoyed the experience.
Isaac Reeves - Year 10