"Never try not to be nervous" says Niamh, at our 'Stage Write' group session with a focus on performing. Niamh's tips were aimed towards our Merlin Dressing Up Box monologues event, but were agreed by participants to be extremely useful for work and life too, in any situation where confidence ebbs and we find ourselves needing to 'do it the way you would do it if you could do it...'
Still at the Merlin, enterprising new director Claudia Berry is launching a New Writing Competition for one-act plays, with winners to be produced as a rehearsed script-in-hand performance on stage next March. It's free to enter, and there's special encouragement to younger writers with an under 25 category. Deadline is end January, and I'm looking forward to seeing some of the scripts as I'll be co-judging along with Mark McGann. First Nevertheless Productions launch Somerset's only Pub Theatre, now this - Frome Ferment is definitely fizzing.
1967 has a special place in my nostalgia files. It's the year I left university and got married in the same week, went off travelling and discovered the allure of Greek islands. It was the summer of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band, the one they called the Summer of Love. Skirts were high and so were we - not so much on drugs (most of us couldn't afford to get any closer than song lyrics and Timothy O'Leary paperbacks) but on hope. Music and fashion were no longer dictatated by the providers but led by us from the street: we believed times really were a'changing, that year just before the providers labelled the bandwagon Flower Power and jumped on it. So when I read that Mike Bartlett's new play Love Love Love tracks a couple who met in '67 for forty years to see what kind of sexegenarians they became, and that the production had rave reviews in the posh papers, and was coming to Bath's Ustinov Theatre, I was agog.
Better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
Love Love Love (retitled by a local reviewer Long Long Long) runs for 3 hours with 2 intervals and I escaped after the laboriously 'establishing' opening act. Except in right-wing ranting tabloids we never met anyone like those ghastly students but we'd have considered them not idealistic free-spirits but arrogant pain-in-the-arses, if we had. Did anyone outside a Norman Tebbit dinner party anecdote actually complain about being sacked for smoking pot instead of serving customers? And what was with the mad-aunt costume, all lime green with pearls and platform sandals, for Sandra? If Mr Bartlett wants to raid precious times for drama again, here's what we looked like. The picture's faded but the dress was purple with tiny buttons. And the shoes - it's a shame you can't see them - were gorgeous.