Andrew Sharpe’s latest play, The Spiral Path, has made its’ transfer into London and will be performed at the White Bear from 22nd – 26th March.
We’re thrilled to hear the work of on one of our members has been produced and we’ll be going along on Thursday 24th March to show our support if you fancy joining us? If so, book your ticket here and we’ll see you in the bar afterwards!
In the meantime, we spoke to Andrew about the inspiration behind the play and the process of getting it on stage!
What was the inspiration for The Spiral Path?
I was walking through Mayfair, and stumbled into an oak-panelled café, that that went quiet when I walked in. There was a single free table, by the window, but I beat a hasty retreat when I saw the glint in the eye of the liveried waiter heading toward me. I became fascinated by the idea of empty table in an otherwise crowded café, and the wrongness that might be attached to it, in this case the continued slaughter on the roads.
Can you tell us a bit about the writing process?
I write when I’m walking and apart from the odd note, leave it as long as possible, before putting anything on paper, obsessing about and feeding the feeling of wrongness that is driving me. Then I may try a few pages of dialogue, sometimes longhand. I may hear it read on Zoom by actor friends. I revisit ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ by Christopher Booker. I sketch a scenario.
I then write a first draft quickly in a couple of weeks, and leave it to rest before revision. I maybe get a scene performed at a scratch night (I can recommend the Cockpit’s Theatre in the Pound). After that comes redrafting either scenes or even an entire re-draft. Many plays are abandoned.
You worked with script consultant/ dramaturg during the redrafting process, could you tell us how this helped you to develop the piece?
London Playwrights ‘ Emily Garside was hugely helpful during lockdown as we developed the work online, both with her report and attending a Zoom read. She gave me a sense of possibilities without every being prescriptive.
How did you get the play produced?
Try to produce your own work, beyond a scene in a scratch night. There’s nothing that leads to a creative block more surely. The better question is ‘how do I get a producer’.
I became active in my local amateur theatre and their play reading group. I attended fringe theatre regularly for several years, often reviewing for London Theatre 1 or London Pub Theatres, and if I came across creative practitioners I admired, I approached them after the show. I saw Kat Rogers performing at the So & So Arts Club, and chatted to her in the bar. She produced and directed ‘Meet me at the Nightingale’ as a short play in 2017, at several venues since, leading to a ‘highly commended’ at the Stockwell Playhouse One Act festival in 2019.
I run workshops once a year and Claire Jared was recommended to me by a participant actor. She appeared and Kat directed when we did ‘From the Ashes’ in scratch at the Queen Theatre in Autumn 2019.
Did you continue to develop the script throughout rehearsals? How did working with the creative team help to shape the piece?
During lockdown I hosted reads of the script with several different casts and theatres. I had ‘After the Funeral’ performed online at the Cockpit. The work definitely benefitted by the extended gestation period. It took many revisions and a partial redraft before it a production was agreed.
Kat and Claire ran (and I helped pay for) a script development day as we came out of the first lockdown. There were some revisions and redrafts as a consequence, particularly in the development of the theme of female friendship.
The play previously ran at the Maltings Arts Theatre; what did you learn from the production as writer?
That the writer’s job is to design and build foundations for the company work on. Make them deep and accept they will be largely unseen. Theatre is a synergy between a dozen or so different creative disciplines, don’t let the writing be the end of the creative process.
Has the script changed at all ready for the run at the White Bear?
Yes. There was a cull of sub-plots and unnecessary verbiage. There’s a new scene (which took two drafts) to carry the narrative more smoothly, and a new point for the interval .
What next for the play?
We hope to attract interest from the independent theatre sector.
What advice would you give to emerging writers hoping to get their work produced?
Track the opportunities in the LPB newsletter and submit the best version of your best work when you can. But it’s not your job to get your work produced, it’s your job to write. The more you write, the better you get. I’ve been writing three or four plays a year for seven or eight years and I’m still just starting.
The play runs at the White Bear from 22nd – 26th March 2022. Directed by Kat Rogers; produced by Mad Stallion Productions, in collaboration with KatAlyst Productions. Book your tickets here.
As mentioned above, the London Playwrights’ team will be heading to see the show on 24th. We’d love to meet you in the bar for a drink afterwards, so please join us if you can! Book tickets here and we’ll see you there!