21 Writers showcased the fresh new writing of 21 aspiring playwrights as part of Transform; a festival from June 6th to 18th at the West Yorkshire Playhouse that seeks to change the way we see and experience a night at the theatre and to encourage that transformation.
The 21 Writers – a number chosen in celebration of the Playhouse’s 21st birthday – were given the challenge of writing a three minute script around the idea of ‘transformation.’ A five week course of workshops and development, lead by Leeds playwright Mark Catley, has helped the artists fine tune their craft in addition to the invaluable experience of having their work performed on stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
The task of condensing drama into three minutes is no easy feat for the most established of writers, but the newbies stepped up to the challenge and the end result was a professional, engaging selection of mini-plays; the most successful of which were those that were humorous. Compere John Nicholson stated that all of the playwrights were in the audience; this would have been a great opportunity for a post performance Q&A to hear about what they’d hoped to achieve from their script and what they’d now change in retrospect based on how the performance went. This kind of feedback would have neatly concluded the whole process for the writers and further engaged the audience who were present.
Despite the shared theme of ‘transformation,’ no two plays were the same. Themes varied from coming out, transsexualism, the monarchy, to relationship breakdowns and murder. Most notable for me was Wayne Lettice’s Two Things where a young man frets over telling his butch Father that he’s gay and is moving to London. His Father is exasperated, but not at his homosexuality; he is perplexed as to why anyone would want to move ‘down south’.
It is a shame that 21 Writers was a one-off performance, as theatregoers reading this review will have already missed their chance to see it. But I don’t think this will be the last we hear from these new playwrights... watch this space!