Update: TV Play Reveals Final Ten, Cancels PreviewDate: 13 June 2006
UPDATED, Tue 13 Jun 2006 @ 5.00pm: This story has now been updated with the new date for the winning stage play's first preview.
Speculation about which will be the winning play of Channel Four’s The Play's the Thing competition has reached fever pitch after last night’s first episode of the four-part series, in which producer Sonia Friedman aims to discover a new playwright and produce their work in a professional run at the West End’s New Ambassadors Theatre this month.
The unnamed play will begin previews on Thursday (15 June 2006), ahead of a 22 June opening, directed by Robert Delamere (who replaces Steven Pimlott after he fell ill - See News, 25 May 2006) with a cast featuring Maxine Peake, Paul Hilton and Tom McKay (See The Goss, 23 May 2006).
Following a power cut in Covent Garden last night, the technical rehearsal for the winning play was disrupted, so the first preview has had to be cancelled for "health and safety reasons", according to a spokesperson for the production. The first performance will now be on Thursday, 15 June 2006.
Channel Four announced The Play's the Thing over a year ago and invited previously unproduced playwrights to send in proposed synopses, along with sample scenes and character lists (See News, 11 May 2006). Over 2,000 aspiring playwrights entered the competition. Friedman narrowed the candidates down to 30 with the help of professional play readers and the panel (including Friedman, playwrights’ agent Mel Kenyon and actor Neil Pearson) deciding on the final ten, who went through workshops before being whittled down to three, and finally one winner.
On last night’s programme, entrants ranged from train drivers to shelf stackers, from scientists to hospital porters, from cinema ushers to bouncers, with a few teachers and several plumbers thrown in along the way. The successful submissions include plays about criminal OAPs, spiralling drug abuse, surrealist political satire, and dramas about Jesus.
A huge 70 percent of the submissions were from men, while 81 of the plays had ‘Jesus’ in the title, 198 talked of terrorists, 210 had end of life experiences in them, and 335 included a visit to a gym or fat club.
The final ten candidates, who were revealed on the programme last night, are: Emma Crowe (from Stratford-Upon-Avon), Gerry Howell (Petts Wood, Kent), Hendryk Korzeniowski (Lancaster), Iain Wetherby (London W4), Jacob Tindle (London N6), Kate Betts (Sidlesham, Chichester), Nendie Pinto-Duschinsky (London NW1), Richard Tyrrell (London NW10), Ruth O’Callaghan (London SW14) and Steve Gardner (Manchester).
The series continues on Saturday 17 June 2006 at 8.00pm, Monday 19 June at 10.00pm, and concludes on Saturday 24 June at 8.00pm with coverage from the play’s opening night at the New Ambassadors.
- by Caroline Ansdell