Talking about TalkFest

by Jackie Crichton

Jackie at TalkFest
Yesterday, TalkFest 2016 at the Edinburgh Festival launched as part of the Made in Scotland programme.  In preparation for the workshops in Edinburgh in the summer, I've been looking back to last month's workshops at the Tron.

Finding Inspiration
It's a strange way to start your weekend - twenty playwrights sitting in the Tron Main House and everyone's looking for one thing: inspiration.

Lynda Radley (DORM, Futureproof) starts by introducing herself and immediately creates a warm, inclusive space. Lynda makes clear from the beginning that this workshop is practical and that participants will be required to write. Hopefully no one was too shocked by this announcement.

Lynda at TalkFest 

And so the writing began. Small, achievable exercises quickly escalated, with Lynda's guidance, into a fifteen-line scene. A few playwrights volunteered to share their work and (as usual) I was surprised by the variation in the playwrights' approaches. Given the same exercise and similar stimuli, whole plots emerge from some writers, whilst glimpses of place or character have been created by others. A good start to any morning.

Show Me the Funny
Later, on that intense TalkFest Saturday, I'm back in a workshop: this time with Johnny McKnight to learn about writing comedy.

Johnny Funny

Johnny's workshop was notable for uniting its subject with its content - the afternoon was continually punctuated with laughter. Sometimes at a quip of Johnny's but also from the participating playwrights as they made each other (and themselves) laugh.

Being funny is clearly embedded in Johnny's nature and his knowledge of the formal structuring principles of comedy is peppered with anecdotes about his life and work. I've laughed less at a stand-up comedian than in that workshop.

Workshops - a thought
It's intriguing to gain an insight into a playwright's approach to their writing: how they start, what they focus on, why they write. The fifty-ish playwrights who attended Lynda's and Johnny's workshops all seemed to find the experience motivating (I hope). Looking back, I'm wondering about those fragments that were created during Lynda and Johnny's workshops. Did they lead to a play? A scene? An idea or a character? I'm not sure I'll ever find out and I'm VERY curious. If you were there, feel free to let me know...

Laughing playwrights
If you like the sound of these workshops, have a look at TalkFest 2016's workshops at the Edinburgh Festival. Bookings are now open.

Jackie Crichton is Administration and Communications Coordinator at Playwrights' Studio, Scotland 
Photo Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Written by Jackie Crichton at 10:31

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