So something very exciting has been happening these last few weeks! I have been selected as a finalist for FAITH Drama’s Theatre Madness Festival 2016! I am one of four creatives who have been given the challenge of writing and directing a short play to be performed at The Stratford Circus Arts Centre on September 10th which happens to be tomorrow and my 25th birthday! The winning writer/director will receive a £2000 commission to write a full length piece for FAITH Drama’s 2016/17 production.
We’ve had two weeks to write our pieces, with feedback kindly being given by dramaturg John Gordon. After submitting my first draft I was told that the piece as it stands wasn’t yet a play, but more a spoken word piece with statements. I had yet to create characters, but rather had created mouthpieces to voice my political worries and feelings. Another note was that the piece itself was too similar to something I had originally created for the interview stage of the festival, and Gbemi (Artistic Director of FAITH Drama) made a point of saying the purpose of the festival was to create something new, not to rework something I had shown before. To cut a long story short, I was told to scrap my play and start again. Whilst the feedback was hard to swallow at first, deep down I knew that John and Gbemi were right. I had to brush myself off and pick myself up and start the writing process over once more. I sat for hours staring at a blank piece of paper with my ‘secret word’ written on – all four writer/directors were given a secret theme word as stimuli to base their short play off.
Hours passed and tears of frustration were building. I felt like I had hit a road block. I felt like I couldn’t do it. My biggest fear was writing something for writing’s sake and forcing out a play that didn’t say or do what I wanted it to. I knew I wanted to say something, something topical, political – make a comment or critique about the world we live in today. But I just didn’t know how.
I started scribbling down ideas about what my secret word meant to me, what it could mean, what it did mean. What does the word look like for different sorts of people. I knew I wanted to set my piece in London, being London born and bred, so I started thinking about what my word could mean specifically for the people of London. And all of a sudden something clicked. I went back to the feedback given by John and Gbemi and immediately the word “character” jumped off the page. A good play needs to have characters in which the audience can relate to, can react to, can love, hate or at least feel something for. I started to think of ways my secret word could evoke characters specifically for a London setting and then all of a sudden words, thoughts, feelings, dialogue and most importantly characters began pouring out of me.
Rehearsal shots for Holnap House, by Megan Fellows
Fast forward exactly five days and after a few sleepless nights (and a mini breakdown) I had finally produced a brand new play, a play which I can now reveal to you is called Holnap House. Whilst I cannot yet reveal my secret word, or the content/ideas behind the piece, one thing I can say is what I have tried to do with this piece is explore issues that are important to myself, my family, my friends, the people of London, and people from other cities and urban areas. Holnap House is grounded in London, but its message is universal as at the end of the day it explores issues about communities that are sadly being torn apart.
I can’t go into much more detail… so you’ll just have to come and watch the piece tomorrow night at The Stratford Circus Arts Centre! The evening kicks off at 7pm and is sure to be a fantastic event championing new, bold voices and talent as well as celebrating the tenth anniversary of the brilliant FAITH Drama Productions.
I have really enjoyed being involved in the Theatre Madness challenge and cannot wait to see what the other writer/directors have created. Whilst this is a competition and there can only be one winner, I wish the other three writer/directors the best of luck and really hope we can give ourselves a massive pat on the back for getting this far! I’m so proud to have even made it into the final four and think only great things will come to all of us. Another thing to note is just how brilliant our shared cast of five, our lovely actors, have been! It’s no small feat performing in four completely different shows and rehearsing them non-stop over a two week period! I am so proud of what we’ve achieved in a small space of time and am really excited for my friends, family and the audience to see the fruits of our labour! Bring on Saturday! Bring on the madness!
WHERE: Stratford Circus Arts Centre, Theatre Square, London E15 1BX
WHEN: Saturday 10th September at 7pm
But if you want £4 tickets, then tweet @FAITHDrama with the hashtag #secretword and they’ll DM you the £4 ticket code!