This morning I attended an event for writers at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. The idea was that of Simon Harris and Carys Shannon of 'Lucid', 'a new artist resource with a curiosity for what's possible'. They provided an open space where writers could have conversations in areas that interested them. About thirty odd writers attended. There was no set agenda, just three themes:the writer and the process, the path to production, and the profession. We were invited to write our questions on post-it notes and join others who might be interested in having a conversation around one question. The law of 'two feet' applied. If you felt you weren't contributing or getting anything out of a conversation you could move on to the next conversation, and when conversations ran out of steam the event was over. 'When it's over it's over.'
I joined a group that discussed the challenge of serious writers getting work read and heard, getting feedback and getting work staged.
Matilde from Wales' National Theatre(WNT), joined our conversation. She suggested we go out into the market place, where people shop, at a regular weekly time, and perform our work in progress. Shoppers will give you their opinions. . .yeah, but can we take it? What are our inhibitions and fears? She encouraged us to use social networks to find directors and actors who we could collaborate with. We told her how confusing we found the WNT's website. She told us that WNT are interested in ideas for plays, not scripts of written plays that we'd labored over. They commission work. So, send in our ideas . . .
I met a young woman called Bambo Soyinka, who is going to set up a storytellers group on the seven ages of women and is looking for a woman to represent each age.
Simon Harris listened politely to me talk about Pontardawe Script Cafe. It appears there was such an animal in Cardiff at one time, but it's not met up for some time. Then he spoke about Action Learning Sets (He's in an Arts Manager ALS), and how we might go about setting one up. He gave a clear message that we have to take responsibility for our ideas and left us with the question, 'What would it have to take to make our idea happen?'
I went over to Alan Harris, who led the Sherman's new writing course and started a conversation with him. I asked him when we'd be getting feedback on the plays we submitted to Sherman as part of the deal. He's not involved but said he'd have a word with Sian Summers, the Literary Manager, who set the course up.
I had another conversation with Oth, a professional writer of radio and stage plays, from the Writers Guild, who told me things are very difficult for writers at present because there's so little funding. I should find people who'd be prepared to perform my work and get my name known (like Adam Timms had done and whose work I wrote about earlier in the year).
I decided that it was over for me although there was still an afternoon session of conversations and action plans. I guess the bottom line is I'm not sure how much effort I'm prepared to put into organising the very group that I need to take my work forward in Cardiff. I wonder how many of us feel the same?
It was an interesting morning and I met some committed and frustrated writers. However, for now, I count myself lucky to have members of Pontardawe Script Cafe to share work with and get feedback from. And I don't have to take up a spot in the market-for now anyway!