Aloha, saintfully patient scriptwriters who responded to Accidental's 2013 open call for submissions.
We didn't know what to expect when we sat down with almost 180 new plays from around the world to chew on ... Deadly hourglasses, evil electric ducks, a Belfast drag queen, a mystery in the loneliest town on the rail line, a mixed-race white supremacist, rhyming pirates, a love story about a fish, hunting for cyborgs, stolen flowers, a halal butcher, incest in a military family, a wandering statue of Saint Brendan, and a treatise on the perils of surrealism in a 1950s high school - to name only a sliver of the stories we saw.
All we knew was that Accidental could only take on maybe 5 of them (that's 2.7% at best!) for production - at least in the near future. Heartbreak, on one hand, considering the breadth and standard of so many pieces we read. But Belfast has already seen the start of our tiny harvest:
- Mark Harvey Levine (USA) and his short "Superhero" had their Northern Irish premieres at the Ulster Hall in our 15 Minutes mini-festival, directed by Richard Lavery.
This year's Biscuit Tin Readings, our vastly varied selection of scripts-in-development, are free to see at the Ulster Hall Group Space:
- Grievances & Whirligigs, written by Donna Latham (USA) and directed by Claire Lamont, kicked off the series last month. It's a jolting and exuberant spill of language, telling the sharp & startling story of the oldest daughter of abusive parents and her many coping mechanisms. Donna was totally, joyfully invested in the revision process - a dedicated and professional collaborator.
- Ascension, written by Clair Parker (England) and directed by Stephen Beggs, is coming up on 29th August. Based partly on the true story of a Dublin family who starved themselves to death thirteen years ago, Clair's play is harrowing but blade-sharp beautiful. Hold your breaths - development in progress ...
- Down on the Main Road, written by Damian Kearney (Ireland) and directed by Finn Kennedy, will close out the series on 24th September. A dilapidated school building - nearly abandoned when most of the teachers walked out to work at the posh one down the road - comes to life around its remaining inhabitants: Faith (the principal) and Dad-Man (the custodian). Hilarious and unsettlingly inventive writing; excited to start work on it soon.
The classic resource squeeze means that we must let the other 97.3% pass us by, at least for now - even the scripts we actually loved. (Like maybe even slightly inappropriately loved. Rhyming pirates!?) I know what it's like to send and send and send to literary agencies and publishers and competitions and rarely get back anything of substance. To make things even trickier, funding is slimmer every day for organisations that give feedback to writers. But for the moment, we can still afford karma. So for everyone who sent scripts, we're in the process of replying, with as many notes and tidbits of general guidance as we can muster.
Best of luck to y'all in the meantime. Keep sallying forth & all that.
P.S. Deep gratitude to Louise Davidson, Lisa Keogh, Richard Lavery & Teresa Hill for their expert script reading help. You're definitely in the black, karma-wise.