Tag Archives: one act play

Jane Pickthall and her play ‘An Illuminating Yarn’



Could you tell me a bit about your play?

It’s about a woman who has lost her job, so she’s pretty fed up with all the government cuts. She lives in a small seaside town, but it’s a bit grim. What she really wants is change- she wants the council to do the town up a bit, put lights on the pier, but they refuse.

To channel her frustration and energy she knits. She knits this series of dolls that represent what Britishness means to her. She has an idea- to put these dolls up along the pier. She ends up getting quite a lot of press coverage for this- based on the story of the Saltburn Yarn Bomber, who was in the news around the time of the Olympics.

So it’s based on a true story?

Well it’s based on two true stories. At around the same time as the Saltburn Yarn Bomber, there was somebody arrested for leaving a suspicious package in the same area. I ended up thinking ‘What if the two stories were about the same person?’

Why should people come and see it?

It has modern themes and strong female characters. It’s about friendship, it’s about mental health, it’s about what you do when your life falls apart- how do you channel your energies? And about how you cope.

Is it the first play you’ve written?

Yes. I’ve been doing a creative writing class for about five years and we do little bits of stories. So when I began another course at Live Theatre, I decided that I wanted to develop one of these short pieces into something longer. It’s been a journey for me as a new writer.

Does your play relate to your life in any way?

I work for a local authority, so yes, there are a lot of redundancies around me.

What is more important for you- character or plot?

I’m quite plot driven. I like the puzzle of working out a plot; but then I do enjoy working on characters and they are always behind the plot.


David Raynor and his play ‘Targets’


Where did you get the idea?

A few years ago a college I worked at was going through a restructure, with many people being made redundant or having to take huge cuts in pay. Leading up to that we all had to interview for our own jobs. It meant friends and colleagues were competing with each-other for the same positions. It was a very difficult time for everybody. It was only a few years later that I reflected on this time and how the pressure of the situation caused people to act and react in many different ways (bringing out the best and worst in people). This experience, combined with many of the challenges faced day-to-day working in a further/higher education institution, provided inspiration for writing Targets. I should add, however, that the college and characters in the play are entirely fictional!

Why should people come and see it?

The play is very topical. So many people will relate to the challenges the characters face. I’m hoping that the characters are engaging and relatable. The story has the potential to amuse, anger, sadden but overall to entertain. (I’ll find out afterwards when I receive the audience feedback!)

Is it the first play you have written? Could you tell me a bit about what you have written before?

Targets is the first full length play I’ve written. Prior to this I have written many short plays and sketches, some of which I’ve directed or acted in myself. A previous short play I wrote, Last Turn of the Night, was performed at Manchester’s 24/7 festival where it was very well received and was praised by Manchester Evening News. I first began writing that when I was member of Live Youth Theatre. An early version was shown at Live, directed by Jeremy Heron.

Have you ever written in another style?

I’ve always scribbled all kinds of stuff; stories, poetry and general gibberish on the back of envelopes. Theatre is the only medium that has forced me to actually finish something, however.

Does your play relate to your life in any way?

 I guess everything we write relates to our own lives, doesn’t it? If it doesn’t it’s probably not worth staging.

What are your ambitions with playwriting?

Once I’ve finished Targets (it’s only the second draft at the moment) I’m hoping that it will be staged professionally. This is only my first play so I plan to write many more. Ultimately I want to keep writing plays, gain a huge international reputation and be paid ludicrous sums of money!

What is more important for you- character or plot?

It’s difficult to say. I feel that character and plot are so entwined. Firstly we have to relate to the characters and find them believable and interesting otherwise any plot is meaningless. Just having engaging characters without a structured plot, however, is also unsatisfying. Both?

Is there anything else you would like to tell me?

Only that I hope people will come and see the play and give me honest, constructive feedback to help me develop it further. I hope people enjoy it.

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Christina Maiden and her play ‘Spending A Penny’


Hello Christina, Could you tell me a bit about your play ‘Spending A Penny’?

Spending a Penny is about two airport toilet attendants – Gillian and Jackie. On a normal morning at work, Gillian is behaving unusually. She’s decked the toilets out with fairy lights, bunting and even a lava lamp. Jackie’s convinced something’s going on. And she’s right.

Where did you get the idea?

I started thinking about the location first. Public toilets are such bizarre places. The host of different people who go in and out, the snatched conversations at the sink or over cubicle doors, the embarrassing sounds people sometimes make and the fact that people go there to do something so completely normal but often not talked about made me think it would be a fascinating place to tell a story. I then considered whose perspective I would be most interested in and so decided to look at a few hours in the airport toilet as experience by two cleaners.

Why should people come and see it?

It’s not every day you can watch a play set in an airport toilet! Spending a Penny is a warm story that will make you laugh. My fondess of toilet humour certainly played a part in the location choice. However for me plays are about all about the characters. I love exploring characters. Delving into their stories – why they are the way they are and the way in which this influences how they relate to others. I find people absolutely fascinating and I really enjoy exploring the intricacies of human relationships through scriptwriting.

Could you tell me a bit about what you have written before?

Plays are my style of choice, certainly. Dialogue and the space between what characters say to each other and what they mean is what I love about writing. Plays give the perfect platform to explore that. I write bits of poetry here and there but for my eyes only. I wouldn’t want to inflict that on anyone else

.I’ve written a couple of short plays for young performers Once Upon a Story and The Last Word. The Last Word was one of the winners of Trinity College’s International Playwriting Competition 2012 and was also performed by Shincliffe Primary School in December. I really enjoy writing for children as it gives me permission to explore weird and wonderful ideas in a way that isn’t as possible when writing for adults. I’ve also written a one act play, Instructions Not Included, about a young woman looking back on the past seven years as she packs up her house. This was performed by Northumberland Theatre Company in March 2013

What are your future ambitions with your work?

I hope to develop my skills and experience as a playwright and doing the Live course has been fantastic for that! I would love to be able to make a living from writing plays – bringing beautiful stories and interesting characters to life.