You know what it's like: You're watching a Comedian, and your friends say "you're funnier than them; you should try that" or you're telling your fave joke in the pub and your mates say "you should be on stage."
I went for it.
And guess what? It's much harder than it looks...
I wrote a funny little script. It's part of the job description. Conned Groundlings Theatre into letting perform on one of their excellent Embryo nights, where new acts try out their new material, hence the title, and got a brilliant o.t.t. introduction from Rafe, the flamboyant compere.
Froze after the first two lines!
The lines garnered the laughs they were supposed to, but rest of my rehearsed skit seemed to have flown out the window.
After a silent, internal blind panic of what seemed hours to me, but, I was assured later, was mere seconds in real life, I recovered enough to bung in a few ad libs, whilst my brain desperately tried to recall the rest of my script.
Fortunately, having had the presence of mind to leave said script with my friends, I made a joke of challenging the audience to heckle me with their bizarrest one line heclkles, but obviously cheated by only responding to the odd phrase shorted out from my script!
These covert prompts did the trick and the show flowed (sorta) on.
As well as the applause, I received some much needed feedback on my performance.
The most important being "learn your bloody lines" and "Don't freeze."
Still, I couldn't have been that bad, because they've actually booked me for the new acts comedy night on the 28th this month!
Cemetery Junction written & directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
Where the hell was I?
Better late than never I caught up with this fantastic touchy-feely good movie on the old telly box tonight...
I am so not worthy: What a master class in scriptwriting, Character development and plain good ol' fashioned really beautiful story telling.
Even the minor characters are so well rounded they spring into believable life and breath truth on the screen.
If you haven't had the pleasure yet, I urge you catch rent/download/steal/borrow/watch it a.s.a.p.
And then rewrite all of your own scripts 'cos of what you've learnt!
And Lord Stephen and King Ricky, if you're reading this, and, yeah I know you're big Sheiky fans, where can I download the script to read?
(Course, should Rick and Steve be too busy, at the mo, what with Hollywood, bloggy things, cartoons and TV projects, to reply direct, or in the comments to me... does anyone else know where I might download their wonderful script to read for edu-ma-cational purposes?)
Written by Amber Dodd, James Jefferies, (see James I spelt it correctly!) Catherine Randle and... er, ohmygosh, as the great James Moran would say: It's me!
Visionary Director Liz Weston, her talented cast and all the hard working backstage crew composed a fantastic show out of our scripts at Portsmouth's New Theatre Royal last night.
An audience of over 300 delighted theatre lovers whooped. hollered, laughed, cried and chanted along with the exciting, multi layered show which cleverly combined celebration, singing, comedy, projected real life wartime photographs and newsreels, and of course, poignant drama from the Pompey Blitz.
For me, it was an extra thrill, to see, hear and, dare I say it, "feel" my words interpreted by the talented cast, as it was the first time I've written a piece for the stage.
Support your local theatres: You really cannot beat live entertainment for atmosphere and relevance.
Hats off and Champagne glasses raised to all involved.
Three other local playwrights and I (Amber Dodd, James Jefferies and Catherine Randle) have written brilliant show (IMHO)called "The missing years."
Based on local people's "living memories," it uses music, songs, back projections of contemporary photographs and drama to tell the tale of Portsmouth's F.C.'s famous, against all odds 1939 FA Cup win.
And, of course, their subsequent world record, ahem, of being the only club to hold on to the FA Cup for six consecutive years...
The lovely Mrs T and I will be there, no doubt quaffing champers and posing for photies on the red carpet whilst being mobbed by hordes on fans.
My friend, secret project co-writer, mentor and sternest critic, the lovely Carol Younghusband has written (and Produced) a beautiful, haunting new short film about dementia called Ten Glorious Seconds
It has garnered rave reviews in the press, including praise from The Times, no less.
Mrs T and I found it very moving, with beautifully shot locations and top notch acting from the cast who bring Carol's beautifully written characters to very believable, poignant life.
Super talent, and friend of this blog, Sir Phillipe de Baron releases today his exciting new venture "Persona" the big, new drama in the palm of your hand. Not the usual one , oh-er missus, but the world's first ever drama created exclusively for all smartphones.
For £1.50 you get 2-3 minutes of daily drama for a year.
Join in the fun and check out all the exciting blurbery, photos and sound bites here and here.
See how many links I crammed into that sentence? Network me back baby!
It really was a great afternoon. Free coffee and quality cakes. Met loads of interesting industry insiders who were friendly and approachable. Not the scary monsters we're led to believe, at all.
We got some advice on courses, planning, budgets, future trends and howled with laughter at the funding stand, when they said there's none left for scriptwriters development. As if writers need money. Huh!
As everybody knows, Writer's don't go out; they just sit in a little room (so they don't need much heating) pounding away at their scripts. In fact, if they write by candlelight (worked for Sheiky and Dickens et al) and charge their laptops when they're down the library or in the free wi-fi caff, they don't even need electricity.
As for grub, Marie Antoinette was spot on: There were free cakes (and coffee) provided. point of fact you could tell who the writers were: (apart from the clothes!) they scoffed extra cakes.
The professional writers, ie, whose sole income comes from writing, were obvious to spot too: They filled their pockets with cakes as they left...
The event was organised like speed dating - or so I was informed - I've never been speed dating. I like to stare at my prey, er, the lady, for ages first while lager chips away at my inhibitions until I'm pissed, er, confident enough to tell her how lucky she's gonna be.
So, just like speed dating, (so I'm told; see above) a gong - in this case a comical hand held squelcher, prompted us to swap cards and phone numbers and move on, so you could move round all the tables.
As the event covered all the arts, I met some up with some old friends and made some new ones. Sculpting and interactive walk in shows/displays appear to be where the funding is at the mo.
To sum up; a great event, good fun had by all. Among all those interesting, friendly people I met was Mr Eugene, a Brighton based musician of note (pardon the pun) and the lovely and witty Jo Emery, a comedy scriptwriter from just across the water from me, that being Gosport, not France. Or the I.O.W.
Jo, bless her, even admitted to knowing the blogoshere's legendary Phil Barron!
Many thanks to Cibas and Purple Door for organising such a cool event. Here's to the next one.
(P.S. For those who don't know, I'm the guy in cool black, next to the blonde lady.)
Always great to be back at the NTR. As well as a quick catch up with some of the people I'm working with on the Living Memories Project I got to meet loads of talented, exciting local writers I didn't know about.
Which, was, of course the whole point of the night.
Writers, poor lonely, souls, need to break the chains on the laptop and talk to real people sometimes. Instead of just conversing with all those voices in their heads...
I'm ok. The lovely Mrs T always hides all the knives when she goes out.
Over forty writers across all the genres and disciplines turned out. A great response, and lovely surprise to the organisers, as they only expected up to twenty: But Portsmouth has talent! (New Simon Cowell vehicle there?)
So the coffee had to be rationed and only the fittest and quickest got a biscuit.
Two discussions were led to see what we, the writers, wanted from the Hub. Ours included a sort of impromptu tour of the magnificent theatre as our leader (tour guide?) the NTR's Director herself, the warm, witty and approachable Caroline Sharman, attempted to find our group a "quiet" space - whilst the Youth Theatre Group rehearsed on stage...
The resulting lists from each discussion were correlated to plan the next series of hubs. New Writing South are committed to organising the first three Hubs, including providing guest speakers, and then the plan is the Hub, or group, will run itself.
The evening duly drew to a pleasant close with informal chatting and quick draw business card gun-slinging.
There were only a few scriptwriters among us, so we gravitated to the corner of the bar in the time honoured fashion of our profession.
Most unfortunately there wasn't any actual alcohol available...
Upon the swapping of said bizzy cards one nice chap I was talking to, the friendly and witty comic writer Tom Pinnock, was delighted to discover he'd now actually met the "famous" Sheiky!
OMG - the reader.
Tom has just finished his degree in Comedy Writing, - the first in the country, apparently.
Staying (sorta) in the realm of the blogosphere I also met a friend of the our very own Lucy Vee - the esteemed Bournemouth Uni's senior lecturer in scriptwriting Dr Craig Batty, who is another very nice chap.
This afternoon I've been invited to attend the sold out Cibas/Screentime event at Portsmouth Uni (really excited!) and tonight is the Wrap Party (really looking forward to it!) for Conway Street - the award winning radio soap I co-wrote 22 episodes for.
As the fat exec with the large cigar always says: "That's show biz for yer..."
http://www.thewriterstale.com/scr.html Six scripts from the great Sir Russell T. Davies, OBE, including "Midnight" a true Master class (pardon the pun) in tight, gripping writing. Pure Class. Top education. Read them!
Plot, Characters, all 3 acts in half a minute...Jennifer Shiman hilariously re-imagines two hour movies in just thirty seconds, and still retains the major plot points! Pitching masterclass for when that Exec says " You've got half of minute of my time."