Monday, January 31, 2005

West End revenue record

West End theatre receipts for 2004 were at an all-time high of £341,758,566, reports BBC News.
Overall attendances rose 3% from 2003, although they were just short of the attendance record of 12,064,100 set in 2002.

The majority of these were for musicals, with over 7m attendances in 2004, while just under 3m people attended a play - a 3% rise on 2003 figures.

The remainder of tickets sold - around 1.6m - were for "other entertainment" - including opera, dance, one-man shows, revues and stand-up comedy.

Fringe Reunited

The organisers of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival are setting up a networking database featuring information on every act that has performed in the world’s biggest arts event, reports The Stage.
Organised by the Fringe as part of its initiative to develop services for those taking part in the event, it is hoped Fringe Reunited will enable some of the 350,000 who have worked at the festival in the past to get in touch with one another and continue collaborating. The database will be online so it can be easily accessed to either look up or add an act.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Corrie wins South Bank Award

Coronation Street has won the 2004 South Bank Award for Best Drama, reports BBC News - the first time that the accolade has gone to a soap.

John Irving on adapting for film

John Irving in The Guardian on how his book A Widow For One Year became the film, The Door In The Floor. And for once a writer is happy about the adaptation of their novel for the screen.
I have told [Tod Williams] that his screenplay is the most faithful translation, word for word, to film of any of the adaptations written from my novels - including my own adaptation of The Cider House Rules. That's true. But his choice, to make only the first third of the novel as a movie, has a radically altering effect. One I completely accept.

EastEnders boss stands down

Just four months after joing BBC's flagship soap, Executive Producer Kathleen Hutchison has quit the show "by mutual consent", reports BBC News.

A spokeswoman has denied that new BBC controller of continuing drama series, John Yorke, came close to halting transmissions for a fortnight after a storyline shortage.
Yorke, a former executive producer of the show, has been announced as Ms Hutchison's temporary replacement.

He said: "Kathleen has done a fantastic job of managing EastEnders during this period of change - I am very grateful to her for all her hard work and for leaving the show in such a strong position for us to build on."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Kara Miller at Sundance

Guild member Kara Miller has a film showing at the Sundance Festival and is writing an online diary for The Script Factory.
Weird. I was sitting in the same room as Tarantino and Soderbergh and a whole host of others had done in the past (this was also the place where the Sundance Labs are held). One filmmaker told me he'd spent the whole brunch sitting beside Tom Vinterberg (Festen, Dear Wendy) and it was amazing. I know anything is possible. Because I'm here. Sitting in this room. Dreaming is believing. I've met loads of directors (shorts and features) including the lovely Dave McKean who I met with his family on a long haul flight back in 2003 (his kids taught me how to play Pokemon cards). He was making his film Mirrormask and I was prepping Elephant Palm Tree. And now we're both here. So cool.

Radio reviews from The Stage

There aren't many places where you can find regular reviews of radio drama, but The Stage is one of them. This month Moira Petty looks at Fontamara (adapted by Andrew Farrell Readman from the novel by Ignazio Silone), The Fire Raisers (adapted by Charles Wood from a play by Max Frisch), The Drovers Path (by Vanessa Rosenthal),
Letters to Fan Fan (by Deborah Davis), and The Beatification of Jaswant Singh (by Matthew Coombe).

Guild gives evidence to Select Committee

The Writers' Guild was one of the organisations invited to present evidence about the state of public support for theatre by Culture Select Committee in the House of Commons, reports BBC News.

Of particular concern was the recent announcement by the Department for Culture Media and Sport that funding for the Arts Council was to be frozen - a cut in real terms.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Writer-in-residence - Radio 3 Africa Season

Throughout 2005, Radio 3 is broadcasting a season of programmes exploring the music and culture of the African continent as well that of communities of African descent throughout the UK.

They are looking for a writer-in-residence to contribute to the Africa season on air, online and at public events.

Full details are available from the BBC Writersroom.

The closing date for applications is 11 February 2005.

Levy wins Whitbread Book Award

Andrea Levy has won the 2004 Whitbread Book of The Year for her novel Small Island. Sir Trevor McDonald, chair of the final judges, said: “All the books are winners and the decision was very difficult, but Small Island was written with enormous charm and was a clear choice for Whitbread Book of the Year.”

Pimlott Prize

The Fabian Society and The Guardian have launched a political writing prize in memory of Ben Pimlott, leading Fabian thinker and political historian. A prize of £3,000 is on offer for a biographical sketch of any figure, past or present, which "best illustrates the political challenges of our age."

The closing date is 18 March 2005.

Full details are on the Fabian Society website.

Writer/producer relations

The Writers' Guild is running a one-day seminar, "Trust Me Baby One More Time: A Guide to Writer/Producer Relations", on Friday 25 February.

Aimed at screenwriters, and run by Carl Schoenfeld, it will explain the requirements a film project needs to meet on the quest for the green light.

Topics covered will include:
  • Overview of the technical, economic and market expectations the film meets during production and distribution
  • Building good working relationships and effective companies
  • The organic pitching guide
  • How a producer takes control of copyright to make the exploitation of the film possible
  • The Screenplay as business plan
  • The UK film industry environment
  • How the production team uses the screenplay to plan the film making process
  • The various roles of a Producer
  • What happens at the various stages of a production
  • National and international distribution and writers’ profit participation

The seminar is open to all, but there is a discount for Writers' Guild members.

Full details are on the Writers' Guild website.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Leigh up for two Oscars

Guild member Mike Leigh has been nominated for two Oscars - Best Director and Best Original Screenplay - for Vera Drake. The Star, Imelda Staunton, is also nominated, for Best Actress.

BBC News has an excellent guide to all the nominations.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Cult of youth

Are publishers putting too much pressure on young writers, asks Carl Wilkinson in The Guardian.
Martin Amis is the archetype. The Rachel Papers was published in 1973 when Amis was just 24 and won him the Somerset Maugham Award. 'The event passed,' he wrote in Experience, 'in what now seems to be improbable tranquility. No interviews, no readings, no photo sessions.' Unthinkable today.


In an innovative new sponsorship deal, Cobra beer is inviting aspiring film-makers to submit 10 five-second films on a single theme for screening in "CobraVision" slots during ad breaks in films on ITV2 and ITV3.

Out of the winning films that are played on TV an overall prize of £5,000 and a holiday in India will be awarded to the director awarded with first prize. The second prize winner will receive £3,000 and a holiday in India and the third prize winner will receive £2,000 and a holiday in India. Shortlisted finalists for the CobraVision awards will each receive Cobra Beer for a Year.

The closing date is 1 November 2005, but early entries are welcomed.

Full details are on the Cobra beer website.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Why play should come before grammar

Philip Pullman in The Guardian argues that children should learn to play with language before they are taught the formalities of grammar.
A word often flourished in this context by the common sense brigade is "basics". It's always seemed curious to me that commentators and journalists - people who write every day and who presumably know something about the practice of putting words on paper - should make such an elementary error as to think that spelling and punctuation and other such surface elements of language are "the basics". These, and deeper features of language such as grammar, are things you can correct at proof stage, at the very last minute, and we all do that very thing, every day. But how can something you can alter or correct at that late point possibly be basic? What's truly basic is something that has to be in place much earlier on: an attitude to the language, to work, to the world itself.

The art of procrastination

The joy of not writing, by Henry Shukman in The Guardian.
For the last decade I have been working on five fiction manuscripts. One of them is two decades old (and still incomplete). By the time I was 22 I had written three novels (two of them abandoned); no procrastination there, you might think. But the next part threw me: going out to buy a teach-yourself typing book took me five years. It seemed I'd rather do almost anything than that: a PhD (begun but never written), copy-writing, working at an airport, on fishing boats, as a musician - anything rather than take a simple but somehow immeasurably difficult step towards helping my manuscripts become actual books.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Children's TV and radio

A report by Peter Corey from last year's Voice of the Listener and Viewer Conference: “Children’s Radio and Television in a Globalised, Multi-Channel World”, on the Writers' Guild website.

Penguin rejects authors compensation claim

Penguin books have rejected demands from authors for compensation after sales of their books were hit distribution problems, reports Saeed Shah in The Independent.
In a meeting at Penguin this week, a delegation led by the distinguished historian Antony Beevor, the author of Stalingrad, was told the publisher was not willing to make a payment to all its authors to cover them for lost sales due to their books being missing from shops.

The computer system at a massive new Penguin warehouse at Rugby failed in the spring last year, leaving distribution of Penguin books in the UK in chaos. It meant many titles were simply not on shelves in bookstores for much of the year.

Stan Lee wins his 10%

A judge in America has upheld Spider-Man creator Stan Lee's demand for 10% of Marvel's profits from the hugely successful Spider-Man films, reports BBC News. The two films have made more than £850m at the box office.

The BBC also has an excellent interview with Lee who reveals, among other things, that he put the hyphen into Spider-Man so that the name didn't resemble Superman too closely. It infuriates him, he says, when people leave it out. "Some day," he jokes, "I want to write a story about a villain who steals hyphens!"

Chichester Festival Theatre

Michael Billington in The Guardian praises the boldness of Chichester Festival Theatre where new writing is combined with work from Europe, classics, and a smattering of star names.
I've argued till I'm blue in the face that, in the arts, caution kills while risk ultimately pays off. It's an approach made possible only by subsidy, and Chichester currently gets £1.8m from the Arts Council and local authorities. But if you look at which theatres have prospered in recent decades, it is invariably those that have been artistically daring.

BBC Writersroom

The BBC's website for writers, BBC Writersroom, has been redesigned. Always a good resource, especially for new writers or people looking to submit unsolicited scripts to the BBC, it is now even easier to navigate.

At Writersroom event in London last night, Kate Rowland, the BBC's Creative Director for New Writing, affirmed the Corporations commitment to Writersroom as its central resource for reaching out to new writing talent.

Several new programmes are in the pipeline for 2005, including a writers festival in the autumn in Leeds, a new look Dennis Potter award for one-off drama and a open competition for original TV drama series.

Not details have yet been announced, but we'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Writers' Guild Poetry Night

The Writers' Guild is holding a Poetry Night tomorrow, Thursday 20 January at the RADA bar on Gower Street from 7pm.

It's a chance to hear a wide range of poets reading their work, and to socialise with fellow members.

Guild members and non-members are welcome. Entry is free.

For more information contact the Writers Guild:

Richard and Judy's book club

Behind the scenes of TV's most powerful book club, with Suzi Feay in the Independent.
The 2005 bookclub only started last week, but already their first choice, Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, sold over 10,000 copies the week before the show aired, and Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife, featured this Wednesday, sold just over 23,000 copies - probably because Judy Finnegan couldn't resist giving it an advance rave.

Barriers for minority ethnic led production

Minority ethnic led independent production companies face particular barriers to success in the film and television sector, according to new research conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies for Pact and the UK Film Council.

The research recommends a number of positive actions for policy bodies and key organisations including:
  • the provision of general support for careers, training, and business advice, and explore targeted support
  • encouraging the further development of networks, by policy bodies and key organisations both individually and collectively, to improve communication within and between the TV and film sectors
  • tackling risk-averse attitudes of those in commissioning/funding
  • improving and opening up the commissioning process to create a greater meritocracy
  • monitoring the range of companies securing commissions and funds to evaluate trends over time.

Rocliffe New Writing Forum

Award winning Director Indhu Rubasingham will be co-chairing the Rocliffe New Writing Forum on 25 January 2005.

Created in 2000 as a platform for new writing the, New Writing Forums present 5-8 minutes of four different scripts, rehearsed for 30-40 minutes with a director, the writer, and actors who are cast on the night.

The scene is then performed to an audience of actors, writers, directors and producers, who then give the writer feedback on his or her work. After each scene the cast become the audience and another scene is performed.

The Forums normally take place in London.

Visit the website for more details or email

Monday, January 17, 2005

BAFTA Film Award 2005 nominations

Nominations have been announced for the BAFTA Film Awards 2005, to be held on 12 February. They include, in the Original Screenplay category:

  • The Aviator - John Logan
  • Collateral - Stuart Beattie
  • Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind - Charlie Kaufman
  • Ray - James L White
  • Vera Drake - Mike Leigh

US Sitcoms

With the passing of Friends, Frasier and Seinfeld, is the US Sitcom on its last legs? Jason Deans in Media Gaurdian (free registration required) investigates.
In the past few years sitcoms have been waning in popularity and now find their place in network primetime schedules being usurped by reality TV. US entertainment industry trade paper Variety recently reported that there were only 33 comedies on the networks last autumn - down by nearly 50% from a high of 62 in 1997.

Goodbye Mal, hello Mackie

With Mal Young departed, the BBC's new Head of Drama Series and Serials, Laura Mackie appears to be taking things in a new direction, writes Maggie Brown in Media Guardian (free registration required), starting with a series of Dickens and Shakespeare adaptations.
The classics project does not means that the BBC is retreating from weekly dollops of ever popular Holby City and Casualty, which provide a ratings safety net. Other gritty adult strands, such as Waking the Dead and Silent Witness, are being built up. Yet the focus is clearly changing. For seven years, Young pursued a single-minded drive to make popular drama series work on BBC1. Mackie, 44, signals a touch on the tiller, at the very least: "The brief is essentially to develop dramas that feel original, and in some cases are risky." Some existing shows may get the chop.
The new post-Young drama structure has split series from long-running series, which are run by John Yorke.

Friday, January 14, 2005

DVD revolution

The increasing importance of DVDs is changing the way the film industry operates, argues Tim de Lisle in The Guardian.
In the cinema, if the big get bigger, the small get squeezed out, because there are only so many screens; but in DVD-land, a gentler Darwinism prevails. Your local supermarket may stock only the top 50 titles, but HMV has thousands. There are an estimated 29,000 titles in print, which is about five times as many as video. DVD has been good for several species of small fish: arthouse films, foreign films, ethnic-minority films, classics, and especially documentaries.

WGA Awards nominees

The Writers Guild of America, west and East announced nominations for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen during the 2004 season.

NB The two different WGAs have different approaches to capitals in their name ("west" and "East"). So now you know!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Download Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle was the very first script guru. Screentalk has a free download of his Poetics.
“I propose to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds, noting the essential quality of each, to inquire into the structure of plot requisite for a good poem; into the number and nature of parts of which a poem is comprised; and similarly into whatever else falls within the same inquiry."

Spring adaptations

The spring schedule will see a number of adaptations of contemportary novels on our TV screens, reports Sally Kinnes in The Times.
“I think people in television are always keen to adapt contemporary novels, but most don’t have enough story to make even a two-hour movie,” says Andrew Davies, the medium’s best-known adaptor. “You get airport novelists like Jeffrey Archer, with masses of plot, but the characters are so crude and the story is so awful, they insult your intelligence.”

Behzti author defends her play

Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, author of the play Behzti that was withdrawn by the Birmingham Rep following protests from Sikhs, has written an article in The Guardian defending her work.
My play and the foreword to it are in the public domain, and I whole-heartedly stand by my work. I was very saddened by the decision to stop the play but accepted that the theatre had no alternative when people's safety could not be assured. Contrary to some reports, nothing in Behzti was ever altered as a result of pressure from anyone. As any drama practitioner knows, new writing evolves during rehearsal, and any changes made were simply part of the usual creative process between writer, director and actors. Nor, as has been suggested, did I ever veto any attempts to restage Behzti. And I will, when the time is right, discuss the play's future with relevant parties.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Curse of the "pet project"

Alexander is just the latest in a long Hollywood line of "pet projects" that have failed to meet expectations, argues Caryn James in the New York Times. She includes Beyond The Sea, Battleship Earth and Gangs of New York in her list of unsuccessful films driven by a lifelong passion by an actor or director.
The failure of so many pet projects is more than fluky coincidence. Such films have their own set of problems. Over the years, endless script revisions can drain the life and energy from a movie, which then staggers into the world as if emerging from decades in a dark attic, as withered and creaky as Miss Havisham.

And the filmmaker's passion is often so blinding that he forgets to explain to the rest of us why Alexander was so great or Bobby Darin was such an idol in the Spacey household.

Kali short films

Are you an Asian women working on a short or full length theatre script you would like to develop? Kali Shorts is the first stage of Kali Theatre Company's writer development programme. Selected writers will be able to join the Kali writers' group and receive support in the development of their work.

Plays must be written by women with an Asian background and be between 15 and 60 minutes in length.

The closing date is 25 March 2005.

Full submission details are on the Kali Theatre Company website (the website refers to the 2004 competition, but it appears that entry conditions are the same).

Radio 3 producer resigns over Springer opera

Antony Pitts, a senior producer at BBC Radio 3, has resigned after watching the BBC2 broadcast of Jerry Springer The Opera on Saturday, reports MediaGuardian (free registration required). His main concern was that the piece was blasphemous.
His examples of blasphemy included "the ridiculing of the figure of Jesus on the cross, dressed to imply sexual perversion", "the repeated mockery of the wounds of Jesus, linked to acts of crudeness" and "the singing of 'Jerry eleison' as a contemptuous travesty of an act of worship".
The work has been defended by BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, and Director of Televsion, Jana Bennett.

Student essay competition

Voice of the Listener & Viewer is inviting entries from students for an essay writing competition on ‘The Future of UK Public Service Broadcasting in the Digital Age’. The winning entrant will receive a cash prize of £1,000.

Entry is open to students studying for a UK registered undergraduate or post-graduate degree or qualification, or an NCTJ recognised journalism qualification. Entries can be submitted as either a written essay of not more than 2,000 words or as a short audio or video feature of no more than 10 minutes in length.

The closing date for the competition is Tuesday, 31st May, 2005, and the winner will be announced in the summer of 2005. The top three entrants will also receive two weeks work experience with a television production company.

Full details about the competition, and an entry form which has to be completed, are available on the VLV website at, or by post from 101 King’s Drive, Gravesend, KENT DA12 5BQ.

Jocelyn Hay, Chairman of VLV said: "Faced with economic, social and technological change, public service broadcasting is having to be increasingly innovative about its future. VLV’s Student Essay Competition is designed to allow the broadcasters, journalists and digital creators of tomorrow to tell us about their vision for the future of public service broadcasting. We want to hear about the challenges and opportunities facing public service broadcasting, as well as the threats. I hope that this competition, one of a range of initiatives VLV is undertaking in its 21st anniversary year, will bring forward some exciting ideas and new thinking about public service broadcasting."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Mal Young interviewed

As he settles down to life outside the BBC, Mal Young talks to Maggie Brown in The Stage about his plans working with Simon Fuller's 19TV.
“He [Fuller] was fascinated by my kind of dramas, especially the success of Holby City. He said he had been developing a drama with [acclaimed scriptwriter] Tony Jordan. Simon is the sort of person that if he wants to do something, he goes out and gets the best people. He is an entrepreneur, an initiator.”

Jordan had developed a treatment for a peak-time American network, Fuller wanted Young to executive produce it.

“We are developing it now,” says Young. “Tony has come up with a fantastic treatment.

“It is a stripped drama, akin to EastEnders, based in Chicago, and focused on working class lives, unlike the staple American sitcoms."
Young says that he only left the BBC because he would be able to get fully involved in 19TV's shows.
“I’m an interferer. I love the casting, the writing. I’m a show runner, in the American style - someone who runs an amount of output and gets their hands dirty.”

He thinks his move into the independent sector is perfect timing.

“There is no other indie that would specialise in what I want to do. My brand can go from Doctors to Waking the Dead to low budget films.

“Here I will be able to take an idea to four or five different outlets. Jane Tranter, BBC drama controller, has said she wants me to develop shows for her. I know what BBC1 needs.

Atwood signs remotely

The Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood is developing a remote book-signing machine that will allow readers to get their novels autographed without the author having to traipse to bookshops across the globe, reports book2book.

The idea occurred to her while undertaking gruelling tours with Oryx and Crake last spring.

Penguin loses the plot

A state-of-the-art warehouse was designed to improve efficiency in the Pearson empire but it created chaos and delivery delays, reports Guy Dennis in The Telegraph (free registration required).
In practice, the new facility rolled out last spring as smoothly as a bouncing rugby ball, dragging Penguin's venerable name through the mud. Quite simply, the distribution centre didn't work. The software failed. Chaos ensued. Penguin's books weren't delivered to shops, infuriating retailers and authors alike, while Pearson Education managed to postpone using the Rugby warehouse.

"It's affected me very badly," says Jane Shilling, one author published by Penguin. Her first book, The Fox in the Cupboard, was published at the end of March, or as she says: "Exactly into this warehouse horror."

Her book received glowing reviews, but her joy soon turned to dismay. "I started going to bookshops and would see that it wasn't there and ask: `Where is my book?'," she says. "It was very difficult for people to get hold of copies."

Too many books?

Luke Johnson in The Telegraph (free registration required) wonders if the publishing industry will drown in new titles.
They say there are three ways of achieving immortality: rear a child, plant a tree, or write a book. Quite a few of us seem to be having a go at the third category - over 1m titles a year are published around the world, according to the appropriately named book So Many Books by Mexican Gabriel Zaid.
But his conclusion is optimistic. For the book trade, progress has meant diversity and that is probably a strength.
New titles, formats and imprints help keep the business vigorous - as does originality. Ultimately, British book publishing will only be successful if it is original and creative: be it Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, books can generate ideas and stories that fuel all other forms of entertainment. Derivative content will never grow the industry - fresh talent and imagination are needed to keep it alive.

The challenge for theatre

The protests at Birmingham Rep proved that playwrights still have the power to divide communities. But, asks David Edgar in The Guardian, how can they unite them?
Should the Birmingham Rep have entered into a conversation with the Sikh community that was misinterpreted as a negotiation over the play's content? How does a theatre that accepts the challenge of giving a public voice to invisible and often embattled communities fulfil that role without compromising the need to be open and truthful about the consequences of that invisibility and that embattlement? Does a theatre have a responsibility to balance dissident perspectives with more positive portrayals (as has happened, willy nilly, in plays about the African-Caribbean and Muslim communities)? Do extreme events in a fictional drama need to be provable, plausible or feasible?

John Logan - screenwriter

John Logan, one of Hollywood's hottest screenwriters, with credits including Gladiator and The Aviator, is profiled in The New York Times.

As well as showing the rewards of movie writing success ("Once a struggling playwright who only a decade ago paid his bills by shelving books at Northwestern University, Mr. Logan drives a Lexus convertible, vacations around the world...and takes meetings with some of the biggest stars and directors in Hollywood") the article also highlights a common Hollywood theme: disputes about writing credits.
Mr. Logan's handlers at the Creative Artists Agency also enhanced his status before he began writing "The Aviator" by building into his deal an unusual provision guaranteeing him sole screenplay credit, Charles Evans Jr., one of the film's producers, said in an interview. The guarantee blocked the producers, who included the normally hands-on filmmaker Michael Mann, and even Mr. Scorsese from hiring writers to revise Mr. Logan's work or from professing any part in the screenplay's authorship, whatever they may have contributed.

Asked whether he had such protection, Mr. Logan smiled. "I don't know," he said.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Arts Council funding cuts (update)

The Guild has received a reply to its letter accusing Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell of accepting a “cut in real terms” in funding for the arts.

Jowell didn’t reply in person, but asked civil servant Phil Clapp to write instead. Clapp writes: “it is true that the latest spending round was undoubtedly tough, but we believe that there is considerable flexibility . . . to maintain funding for arts organisations and artists in real terms.” He concedes: “As Tessa Jowell has publicly stated, the challenging settlement for the Department has not allowed us to put as much into the arts sector as we would like.”

Clapp says that Arts Council of England funding will increase in April 2005 by £45 million to £412 million per year. But it will stand still for the next two years, meaning a £30 million cut in real terms because inflation “will have to be absorbed”. He makes it clear that it is up to ACE how it slices up the limited funds available.

The Guild’s criticism focused on theatre funding, which sees no increase at all. The Guild has predicted closures of theatres and touring companies, fewer commissions of new work, more restrictions on cast numbers and production values.

Phil Clapp’s letter does not deal with this issue. He falls back on “further efficiency savings”; “re-shaping arts education spending to release funds” and “flexibility in existing budgets to make resources available”. The Writers’ Guild does not believe any of these phrases will translate into a single penny for theatre funding.

Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett has written to the Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Peter Hewitt, enclosing a copy of Clapp’s letter and asking whether theatre funding will go up, or down, or remain the same both in cash terms and in real terms. Hewitt is also asked to explain whether new funding for large projects such as the South Bank Centre and Liverpool Capital of Culture will drawe funds away from existing theatres and companies all over the country.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

José Rivera interiew

Screenwriter José Rivera, whose film The Motorcycle Diaries was one of the critical hits of 2004, is interviewed by Richard Stayton for the Writers Guild of America, west.
Some of the best collaborative work I have ever done with a director was with Walter [Salles] because he doesn't rewrite you. He makes very precise and interesting comments on everything you've written, and some of them yield new things. For example, I knew he wanted a certain atmosphere of Buenos Aires captured. And I remember writing a scene where he rides over a bridge and the motorcycle slithers through this traffic accident. Just little things like that where he would have an idea and I would come up with details.

Rape in soaps

While praising The Archers on Radio 4 for its recent rape storyline, David Aaronovitch in The Observer asks why rapists in soaps are almost never one of the central characters.
It seems to me that this is a very interesting psychological insight. Our sympathy with soap characters is based on identification. But while we can easily see ourselves as potential victims of rape or assault, we find it impossible to allow a connection with the rapist, the molester and the wife-beater. By making the rapist an outsider who leaves after the crime, the scriptwriters externalise evil for us. It is not within us or those who are close to us, but entirely contained within others. So the writers first frighten us with something real, and then reassure us with something unreal, which is the notion of our own essential and eternal correctness.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Honours for Guild members

Three of the UK's leading writers, and long-standing Writers' Guild members, were honoured in the New Years Honours list.

Alan Plater received a CBE. Guild President from 1991-95, Alan has worked in theatre, TV and film. An early contributor to Z-Cars, his credits include the The Beiderbecke Affair for ITV and the recent award-winning TV play, Last Of The Blonde Bombshells.

Ray Cooney, who has received an OBE, is one of Britain's most successful and popular playwrights. Best known for farces such as Run For Your Wife, he has, to date, had 17 plays produced in the West End.

John Sullivan, who has also been awarded an OBE, is best known for creating and writing the hugely successful sitcom, Only Fools And Horses. His impressive list of credits also includes creating the sitcoms Citizen Smith and Just Good Friends.