About four years ago my career as a playwright and screenwriter had stalled a little bit.
I’d been commissioned to write one play and been commissioned separately to make a short film. While I made both as ends in themselves, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t hope each of those projects might lead somewhere else.
I then seemed to hit a bit of an impasse. I wasn’t really sure which way to turn. Promising leads turned into dead ends and I realised that you’ve never really ‘cracked it’. Not least because ‘cracked’ and ‘it’ are defined in so many different ways. So there I am, four years ago, wondering what my next move would be. Next month I’m starting R&D on my third play thanks to an Arts Council grant secured with my producers DepArts. I am all but certain I would still be wondering about my next move were it not for the generosity of Leeds company Slung Low. Led – and never has that word been used more appropriately – by the indomitable Alan Lane, Slung Low is a theatre company that makes manifest the phrase ‘Impossible is Nothing’. For their last show they made Captain Ahab’s boat appear out of still water at Leeds Dock.
Four years ago I wasn’t sure what my next move was, but I realised that being proactive had always been the key. I decided to write and direct my own show.
Looking back there are dozens of people I have to thank for all the small steps along the path since then, but one of the key ones is Alan Lane and what he was able to do for me, through his company.
Giving me the keys to the Slung Low base and letting me rehearse there with my actors for the week might seem like a small thing, but when you are a director setting out, tiny acts of faith like that are more important than anyone granting the favour might ever realise.
Unfortunately, that theological puzzler has reared its ugly head this week – why do bad things happen to good people? Bad things happened to the very good people at Slung Low this week when someone broke into their base and stole their new van. In typically humorous fashion, Alan shared the news by expressing his disappointment that the hapless three burglars took 45 minutes to steal the van. Slung Low company members would never be so inefficient. It isn’t fair that bad things happen to such very good people, but I reckon this could be an opportunity.
If you read the page opposite, you will see that Slung Low is hosting one of its pay-what-you-can performances this Sunday. Maybe the arts community of Leeds will go along and show that when bad things happen to one of their own, they rally round and show their support. Especially the ones who owe Slung Low – and I imagine we number a fair few. If you can’t make this weekend, don’t worry, there’s another chance to show your support on December 6 when Slung Low holds its Christmas Fayre. I suspect it’s going to be packed out with supporters.