Category Archives: A Page Turner

>A Page Turner and the 20/20 conference


Last weekend I attended the 20/20 Playwriting/Pedagogy conference run by The Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at Birmingham University. It was great to meet up with old friends, meet some new friends and listen to some interesting and inspiring papers. The US playwriting/pedagogy scene (with its much longer history of teaching playwriting) was well represented and produced some interesting insights.

The conference celebrated the 20th anniversary of the MA/MPhil(B) in Playwriting Studies – Britain’s first postgraduate playwriting course. I attended the course in 1999/2000 and was one of 20 graduates commissioned to write a 10 minute play to be performed at the conference.

The play, A Page Turner, was directed by Gwenda Hughes and performed by third year undergraduates. There were two shows of ten plays each. The productions were very good – casts moving from one play to the next with ease.

For the first time ever I didn’t attended rehearsals of the first production of one of my plays (I don’t think any of the playwrights did). Seeing the play for the first time, I wished I’d cut more heavily. It makes me realise how much I rely on a dialogue with the director and actors to fine tune my work. I’m not a naturally authoritarian author. Something to work on.

The weekend was a boost for my writing. After a long time away from the stage and rehearsal room you forget what a buzz it is to be around theatre (and radio drama) makers.


>The time trialling season begins for me tomorrow with a 10 mile event. I will report (eventually).

Next weekend I have a weekend off the bike to go and see my artworcs friends. I am also attending the 20:20 conference in Birmingham where my short play A Page Turner is receiving its first performances alongside 19 other short plays by writers who attended the MA / MPhil(B) in Playwriting Studies at Birmingham University.

In other news: 

My sister, Marie, won two Silver medals at New Zealand’s National Masters Championships. She was second in the 500 metre TT and the Individual Pursuit. Well done (again), Marie.

We took last weekend off to celebrate Pat’s birthday. Two films at the BFI: Letter for an Unknown Woman on the Saturday and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner on Sunday. The former harks back to the well-made play of the late nineteenth century (the heroine – a good woman who does a bad thing – handily gets a disease that kills her as a kind of moral retribution. The sort of plot that only survives in opera nowadays). The latter has a tight cause and effect, three act structure that felt much more modern. I didn’t cry watching Spencer Tracy‘s last performance… I didn’t. I don’t cry. It was a good weekend.

Today I was at Hillingdon cycle circuit helping Ray and the rest of the club run a British Cycling Go Ride event for school children new to the sport. It was great fun with some really committed performances by the kids. It was very cold though.

>A Page Turner

>My ten minute play A Page Turner has been commissioned by, and will be performed at, the 20/20 Conference in Birmingham in March. The director will be Gwenda Hughes. Conference details below…

20/20 conference: Playwriting/Pedagogy 

  • 20 years of the Birmingham Playwriting MA/MPhil(B) 
  • 20 new plays by graduate playwrights 
  • 20 papers on the pedagogy of playwriting 

University of Birmingham, Selly Oak Campus
Saturday 13 March – Sunday 14 March 2010

2009/10 marks the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of what was then the MA in Playwriting in Birmingham, the first course of its kind in Britain. To mark this anniversary, 20/20 will reflect on the impact of the study of playwriting on dramatic writing within the theatre and beyond. The weekend will include the debut of 20 specially commissioned short plays by graduates of the Birmingham course. Panels of speakers will include some of the most active and influential playwrights, academics, and critics working in Britain, Europe, and the USA today.

The conference will attempt to define a lexicon of dramaturgical terms, survey the extent and validity of the playwriting literature, examine how playwriting is taught and nurtured at different levels of educational and artistic endeavour and through a comparative account of its place in the US, Britain and Germany, question what form plays for our times should actually take, ponder the old chestnut that theory and practice don’t mix, look at how playwriting is developed in theatres, on radio and in schools. It will be of interest to any playwright, playwriting teacher, dramaturg, educationalist, theatre practitioner and academic in this field.

20/20 plays by: 
Clare Bayley, Craig Baxter, Helen Blakeman, Ben Brown, Stephanie Dale, Rod Dungate, George Gotts, Lucy Gough, Tony Green, Fraser Grace, Sara Grochala, Nancy Harris, Duncan Macmillan, Charles Mulekwa, Amy Rosenthal, Carolyn Scott Jeffs, Tim Stimpson, Anthony Weigh, Lance Woodman, Sarah Woods

Panellists include 
Mark Bly is the Senior Dramaturg and Director of New Play Development at the Alley Theatre, Houston, TX.
David Edgar plays include Destiny, The Life and Times of Nicholas Nickleby, Testing the Echo founder of the MA in Playwriting whose book How Plays Work is published by Nick Hern
Dr Ken Cerniglia is a theatre scholar and dramaturg, who works for Disney Theatricals, and will offer the view from Broadway.
Maja Zade works as a Dramaturg at the Lehninerplatz Schaubühne, which has led Europe in establishing the collaboration of the playwright, the director, and the dramaturg in producing new work. Zade has also worked as a senior reader at the Royal Court Theatre.
Jack Bradley dramaturg and writer, former literary manager National Theatre.
Dan Rebellato Cathy Turner, Mary Luckhurst, Kara Reilly, Ian Brown, Karen Juers Munby, Liz Tomlin, Steve Waters, Anthony Weigh, Julie Wikinson, Peter Wild, Caroline Jester and others….

Fees: £130 full rate/ £75 concessionary.
Includes two lunches, dinner and drinks on Saturday night, all conference events and two performances of the 20/20 plays.

Supported by the British Theatre Conference