Monthly Archives: March 2012

The First Reading

It’s always a scary time for a writer of new works – that first script reading with a company of actors and director. Will the actors take to the characters? Will the script come across as you had imagined? Will the script be the literary masterpiece that your are convinced it is? Will you have to do an extensive rewrite because they all think it’s crap? Or is it just me.

Well, the first reading of “In the beginning – a slightly irreverent look at creation” (I’m going to get well and truly pissed off with that title by the time this production is finished) was scheduled for Wednesday morning;  the setting was Rebecca’s (director) flat not far for Liverpool City Centre; the time ten in the morning. Two of the actors were on time. Two of them were an hour late! To be fair, on of them had contacted the director to say that he would be late due to a sudden call into uni. I hope this isn’t a pattern for the rest of the production.

So, tea and biscuits were provided by the host and we sat down with our scripts. I then said that I’d take some photos for the Facebook page. Call me sexist but true to form the girls moaned about this, with comments about wishing they’d known and something about not looking their best, while the boys couldn’t care less. Was this just delaying tactics by me?

So the first page was read by Abbie and Sean, the Divine Creatrix and the Grand Architect.  I started to feel less anxious and by the time “Curtain” was reached I was convinced that this is exactly the cast that this script needs.

Discussions followed about the script. I told the cast to try and present that the writer wasn’t there and just be brutally honest – I don’t think they took any notice. Turns out, all anyone felt was needed was another scene between Adam and Eve.

Oh well! Looking forward to rehearsals now.

First published at:

Don’t worry, I will write some original stuff eventually.


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A Life in Theatre

File:Andrew Schofield in August 2007.jpgI only ever regarded Andrew Schofield as a professional Scouser. Well, he was Scully, of course, and a henchman in GBH.

Last night (sat 24 March) I went to see David Mamet’s “A Life in Theatre,” at the Actors Studio in Liverpool, which has completely blown that illusion out of the water. From the moment the lights faded up, Schofield commanded the stage with his portrayal of Robert, the ageing actor, who constantly reminisces and often complains. Portraying the character like a cross between Quentin Crisp and Peter O’toole, Andrew Schofield was brilliant.

Stephen Fletcher was the other half of the duo and was the perfect partner for Schofield as the very patient, and much younger John who variously feels sorry of Robert and irritated by him.

At one point, Schofield entered the auditorium from the back and staggered his way to the stage as the drunken Robert. This was a sight that will stick with me for a long time. Comic genius!

So, come on all you TV producers. Give Andrew Schofield some roles that are worthy of his talents, and stop casting him as a stereotypical Scouser.

John Mc’s own play “In the Beginning –  a slightly irreverent look at creation” is to be staged at the Actors Studio during the Write Now Festival 2012. More details can be found on the website

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Auditions – now they can be strange events.

Tuesday saw our first round of auditions. First off, out of  about thirty five candidates from the casting event, only eight confirmed that they would attend, two send messages at the last minute to say they couldn’t do it after all, and nine turned up. Odd!

So, what do you expect at an audition? Well, I have never been in favour of the standard monologue in front of a panel type audition; I have only ever had to do one of those and I think they are just a waste of time. Sure, if the script is a monologue, you might want to see how an actor can portray a character without someone to react to. However, most scripts aren’t monologues so you need to see how actors can relate and react to each other.

Luckily, my director agrees (read her blog, by the way. Just click on “Director’s Blog above).

So, we surprised our candidates by running a workshop with all of them – an improvised workshop, which means that we made it up as we went along as well. Well, okay, we did plan a little bit.

Running workshops like this allows the actors to get comfortable with their surroundings and each other.  It also allows the director to observe who gets along with whom, what the actors make of the characters they are given. Yes we had men playing women and women playing men and even had a group playing the same character at the same time!

The actors, Rebecca (director) and I all enjoyed the process. Although, they did admit that it was the strangest audition they’d ever attended. The orgasm exercise was particularly interesting, but I’ll leave you to guess about that.

This Blog first appeared in

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Damn Those Cliches

Damn Those Clichés!

Clichés are an irritating rash on an, often, otherwise blemish free script. I’m not talking about the everyday clichés that most of us use, well, everyday; I’m talking clichés that you only ever hear on TV.

Some time ago there was a very good US comedy series called “Friends.” At some point in an episode, a character came up with the line “excuse me” when she really meant something like “say that again.” From that day on, I have heard the irritating “excuse me” used regularly in such British stalwarts as Eastenders, (when they usually mean “ya wha?”) and Casualty (when they usually mean “I beg your pardon”). Yes the “excuse me” phrase has blighted scripts from some of the best writers in television.

Okay, if you fart in company it’s polite to say “oh, excuse me” if there’s no family dog to blame, but no-one ever, ever says “excuse me” when they really mean “sorry. What did you say?” Well, not in my social circles anyway.

Then we come to the good old family moniker “little Jimmy” (or David, or Sammie or whatever).  No one ever refers to their own child as little Jimmy! Never. Occasionally, if there are a number of Jimmies in the same family (like grandfather, father, son) a neighbour or other relative may refer to little Jimmy – but never Jimmy’s parents. So why, oh why do soap parents refer to their kids as little Jimmy?

There are so many others I could write a whole book on the subject. How many can you spot this week?

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March 15, 2012 · 3:06 pm

Choosing a Director


Choosing a director – now there’s a funny business; well, at least it is when you are part of the Write Now Festival (WNF).

In the real world, a producer would have to advertise for a director and then interview the candidates while, at the same time, trying to sell the script. But with the WNF, the team does the advertising and the potential directors have no idea what they are letting themselves in for.

From the vast array of applicants, seventeen would-be directors were short listed and their CVs sent to all ten writer-producers. The writer-producers then had to sift through the CVs and choose up to four of the candidates in order of preference. The scripts from each were sent to all of their choices. Those directors who received ten scripts should consider themselves worthy of a production that pays far more the WNF; those who only received one (you know who you are) or, even, none should realise that the writers were just blind to their potential.

After this process, the directors are invited in to be interviewed by a panel of writers. I felt sorry for the poor candidates who were there on the first night of such grueling grillings – they were faced by a firing squad of ten people!

Following the interrogations, we writers had to take another look at our orders of preference and, the directors were asked to do the same. With a bit of luck, they would match.

In my case, the first time I met my director was three hours before the casting event., since I was unable to attend all the directors’ interviews. Fortunately, Rebecca and I seem to get on, I like her ideas, and she likes my script. That’s got to be a winning combination.

Now for the auditions.

This is a copy of my blog post on the website for “In the Beginning.”  You can find the website at: www.

and the production has a Facebook page at:



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In the Beginning

snoopy the writerIn the beginning there was a thought and a writer took that thought and, with the power and might of a brain, a load of paper, and a computer, turned it into a script worthy of a place in 2012’s Write Now festival.

So, last Sunday saw this year’s casting event for the Write Now festival (in previous years, it was referred to as the “Meet Market” for some reason). Now, after last year’s similar event (some of you may remember that I was a director of one of last year’s plays) where I spent a lot of time drinking tea and doodling, I was expecting an easy time of it. Hah! Some hope!

This year saw a steady stream of eager actors and actresses (oh, come on! Less of the PC crap) and, as a result we, that’s Rebecca (my director) and I never stopped. I may have been a bit cruel to her, actually, because I mostly made her do the spiel about the play and explain it to the thespian hopefuls. Still, I had to make sure she knew the script, didn’t I?

At the end of the day we had collected in the region of thirty-five CVs and contact details. Overwhelming or what!

I didn’t want to do it but we had to whittle them down somehow.  How did they seem on the day? Will they suit such roles? Do we think we can work with them?

The last question was a tough one because I don’t think there was a single person on the day with whom I felt I could not work.

So now we have to arrange the auditions. Just waiting for the go ahead on one of the slots available to us (we are all using the same venue for initial auditions). That’s going to be tough with such a huge pool of talent from which to choose.

This is a copy of my blog post on the website for “In the Beginning.”  You can find the website at: www.

and the production has a Facebook page at:

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