July 8, 2012
“As I looked down into the pub urinal, there was a lone penny stranded in the gutter, and I thought ‘one pee leads to another’…”
I’m not sure if that works best spoken out loud, or written down. Either way, my writer’s brain was whirring, having just seen 10 short plays at Theatro Technis, as part of Scene & Heard‘s “Under The Mattress: The Secretive Plays” season.
Scene & Heard is a charity which mentors children from Somers Town (the London quadrant north of Euston Station), and, partnering them with professional actors, directors and dramaturgs, enables them to write their own short plays. And the resulting performances are truly enjoyable. The young playwrights’ words are not edited or amended, and the actors are careful to play them truthfully, and not “for laughs”. As a consequence, the audience doesn’t need to work hard to find the latent humour in the situations and the exchanges of dialogue. I think it helps that all characters, in all 10 plays, must be inanimate. Who wouldn’t want to know how a pasta twirl and a bald monkey would hit it off? And as for the cab journey with the rainbow maxi-dress and the pink marshmallow….Well, you couldn’t make it up.
Except, there seems to be no limit to what these young minds can create. By giving fuel to the youngsters’ imaginations, many of whom enter the process nigh on taciturn and low of confidence, vivid worlds of possibility are given life (and often death!).
If we scrape about in the locked box that is our childhood memories, there’s usually the echo of a careless, reckless, or downright malicious comment, still lodged like a barbed dart, which had the effect of snipping the green shoots of our creative esteem. But the poison never reaches the roots, and I can only imagine that the one-on-one encouragement delivered by the Scene & Heard team must have a fertilizing effect on its participants in the short-, medium- and long-term. Of the steady drips of listening, nurture and support, some will wash over the children. But there’s no doubt that some will be caught in the filters, and stored safely, ready and glowing; the building blocks to help them find the page-turn for the next chapter of their personal development.
Actors, directors, costume designers….ten a penny in London. And having enjoyed ten plays, I’m reminded of that one sad-looking penny. Everyone has the right to write, but not everyone’s blessed with knowing that they have the permission to do so. If you’re on, or have clambered back onto, the creative path, Scene & Heard (which charges nothing for tickets to see its shows) is looking for hearty volunteers to make costumes, make props, act, compose music, design lights and design sound for future shows. I can’t wait to be in one, and to play my small part in swelling the creative coffers of some young minds.