Collaborations 2012 – participant interviews IV

There are now less than two weeks until the application deadline for our 2013 Collaborations Festival! Thank you to all who have submitted their applications already. If you are still mulling it over, we’d really encourage you to take a shot and send that idea/script in, and pass on the details to anyone else you think might be interested: after all, we want next year’s festival to be even bigger and better than last year!

To give you a better idea of what can happen, we’ve asked Philip St John to write a little about his experience. Philip submitted a few scripts to us last year, one of which: The Sylvia received a rehearsed reading in our 2012 festival, and has been further developed, accepted onto Fishamble’s ‘New Play Clinic’, and will be produced in our 2013 festival as our ‘headline’ show in the main space.

Here’s what Philip had to say:

I began The Sylvia in the late summer of 2011 as a short piece for SCORE, a workshop project run by North West Playwrights in England. As the deadline was close I had little time to think up a story, so one morning when I woke up with four characters and a strange, dark fragment of narrative in my head, I rushed to my desk and pretty soon had scribbled down twenty minutes worth of drama.

Even then, I knew The Sylvia needed to be much longer. It trailed off in a jumble of loose ends and the two leading characters clearly had more to them than I had revealed, or in fact knew. For a couple of months after SCORE I nudged the story along. Then director Paul Meade forwarded details about a festival seeking new work: Collaborations. 

I sent in a few samples of work-in-progress and John Delaney rang to say that he was interested in playing one of the leads in The Sylvia and that Liam Halligan would like to direct. Liam, four actors and I work-shopped the script for a couple of mornings, and the guys from Collaborations said that, provided I did some rewriting of the then-fifty minute version (which had some of the loose ends tied up and plenty of new ones not) The Sylvia could have a week’s run at the festival. Alternatively I could work ahead towards a full length version and the actors would read it at Collaborations.

I opted for the latter. For three months I worked like a dog.

The reading took place in Smock Alley on the final afternoon of the festival. The first act seemed to go well, but despite the talented cast and director, the second – months of writing – was deathly.

For the next couple of weeks I lived inside a cloud of despondency. All that effort for nothing! Then a ray of insight pierced the gloom. The reading had simply done its job: shown up flaws in the play. All I had to do was…fix them.

Pretty quickly, I decided to ditch all of the second act and within days had handwritten a draft that, after yet more rewriting and workshops, grew into the text which had a reading at Smock Alley in July 2012. Shortly afterwards, the Collaborations team decided to give the play a two week run at the second festival, and since then Rough Magic have offered production support, as have Fishamble, who accepted the play into its New Play Clinic.

In February 2013, it will be a year and a half since I scribbled down the first draft of The Sylvia. That the play has gone from that to a full production in such a short time is in large part due to the hard work, talent, passion and patience of the Collaborations team. At a time when outlets for new writing in theatre are rare, this festival is an invaluable resource.

Thank you Philip, we can’t wait to see the finished product!

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