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Staged in Leeds

Submitted by on April 7, 2011 – 2:29 pmNo Comment

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This a Guest Post by Sarah Wallis (@WordWeave); aka, my better half.

The Carriageworks Theatre in Millennium Square is a lively place supporting new writing and touring theatre companies. It has a main stage seating 350 and the smaller Upstairs@thecarriageworks seats 65, and it is the venue for new writing nights in Leeds. The Carriageworks plays host to the Freshly Picked season, the Emerge Festival in June, Script Yorkshire has an event where six new pieces are presented script in hand and then there are nights such as Midget Gems, the last of which is on this Saturday 9th April, and run by Jan Perry of Pink Lady Productions.

Midget Gems showcases up to six short plays all with high production values. It’s the next step from script in hand readings to actors learning lines, adding in sound effects, music and lighting. In short, it’s a full production in miniature. It’s also a great opportunity to put work in front of an audience because, almost surprisingly, there is an audience for it. As enthusiasts have already discovered, the advantages of seeing theatre in this format include; allowing you to go out for dinner beforehand, because it starts at eight not seven or seven thirty and you can catch the pub afterwards and still make your bus or train home, because it finishes before ten. The ticket is much cheaper than the usual price of a theatre ticket and you see more than one show, what’s not to like?

My play for Midget Gems, Citizen Clown started out as a competition entry for a Monologue Festival in Cambridge, which in the end didn’t happen. So the piece hung around a bit at the back of my computer. Script Yorkshire put a call out for scripts for an event at Bradford Playhouse taking place in July 2010. During a trawl through the scripts I had been working on I found Clown again and decided to send it out. The script was chosen and presented script in hand, it went well and there was a good audience response. A friend of mine, Joanne Hartley, who runs Northern Creative Theatre thought she’d like to do something more with the piece. After reading it was sent to Jan Perry and she responded saying it would make a good play for Midget Gems.

If the piece hadn’t been on at Bradford and seen script in hand by someone who could take it further, it would still be sat at the back of my computer and you wouldn’t be able to go and see it on Saturday night. Luck was definitely a factor in getting my script on both times but these processes are of the kind a new writer goes through, and that Script Yorkshire and The Carriageworks enables.

As a writer for the stage I am very glad we have the Carriageworks in Leeds to host and support this event and others like it, and to have opportunities to put my work in front of an audience in my home city. I have had short plays staged elsewhere, in places such as Newcastle, Birmingham and London but it really is wonderful to be able to go and see my work, Citizen Clown, produced by a hardworking Leeds based company, Northern Creative Theatre and staged in Leeds at The Carriageworks.

Midget Gems is at The Carriageworks for one night only this Saturday 9th April at 8pm. Call the Box Office on 0113-224-3801.

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