STEP UP Creatives ensemble: Gareth Morgan (dramaturg)

Gareth Morgan

I have eye-fugg.

Eye-fugg is the pseudo-medical term for the greying vision and head blur caused by reading too much dialogue in a short space of time – leaping from imagining the lines in the photocopy in front of you being spoken by an African American Airman, a university student believing himself to be Richard III after a freak weather incident or a woman in love with a cuddly stuffed monkey. Eye-fugg was invented by lazy artsy intellectual types to help them argue with hod carriers and tree surgeons that their job is ‘tiring too’. Like you would believe Kimi Raikkonen had sustained an injury whilst driving (I only picked him to prove I can spell his name, or at least google it), please believe me – I am, allegedly, a professional.

Now to tell you why.

I have, along with Tilly and Daniel – of New Perspectives staff fame/notoriety *please delete as appropriate*, read the 49 submissions for the DREAM UP writing competition. And they were good. Tantalisingly tiring, evocatively exhausting, alliteratively annoying (1)Œ; we have been thrilled, shocked, moved, surprised, wowed and amazed by what came through the letter box. Who knew that “How can I remember things I never knew?” would stimulate so many different interpretations and approaches? There were some really touching accounts of loss, deceit, growing old, being ill and/or unemployed. We had jokes about maps – I love jokes about maps – Renaults, imagined train stations, bananas, Kylie Minogue lyrics, internet dating for psychics, the correct retail establishment to buy grandparents from and cardboard Michael Parkinsons made us chuckle. There was a high incidence of death in the scripts, although no one actually killed any of their ‘three characters’ allowed by the rules but we did have quite a few ghosts. No one tried to quote the titles of all of Shakespeare’s plays in their script (2) or to have an Elvis impersonator on a gap year in Africa sing Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain to end a lengthy drought whilst under fire from local militia (3)Ž but we have had a truly awesome intake from a really talented crop of regional writers. Decisions are being made and writers will know very soon who’s won the big prize. Whilst the competition rules say this will be paid by bank transfer I’m still petitioning for it to be presented in the form a giant cheque.

To tell you something of myself, I am a writer, theatre-maker and dramaturg. I only do this because my batting (4) lets me down in being England’s answer to their Spinner-All Rounder problem and I am as yet to make a living selling chutney. Dramaturgy is difficult to define but looks at composition, structure, staging and audience within theatre and tries to assist in the bringing of these elements to stage as part of creative team. I have an interest in both new and existing scripts – initially focussing on the latter. In fact, I only began reading new scripts when I realised I’d go screwy if I carried on researching the methods used to stage old ones. This also coincided with a work placement with Theatre Writing Partnership, an organisation that will be missed in the coming years (5). A quick glance over projects I’ve been involved in over the last few years and the compiling of an accompanying spreadsheet reveals that 79.31% have been new writing based. Someone (6)‘ once referred to a dramaturg as an in-house critic and outside eye on a process so that’s what I’ll be doing here. And reading scripts.

We, the amassed STEP UP Creatives ensemble, plus the wonderful Gramophones (The STEP UP Company being mentored by New Perspectives for 2011-2012), also had a brilliant session from Daniel and Kayleigh from New Perspectives about making, marketing and touring shows based on the model they use at the company. According to my notes you shouldn’t blow the whole marketing budget on bookmarks (this is the sort of mistake I usually fall foul of, thanks team for pointing it out) and a nice letterhead is key to getting ahead.

Would anyone like to make me a nice letterhead? I’ll make you some chutney as payment.

Π1. My writing that is, not the submitted scripts.

2. Always a bonus as I’ve read 3 plays that have done that in the past

Ž 3. This is still one of best ideas and scripts I’ve read over the last few years. So bonkers it was brilliant.

4. Currently averaging 3 and batting at number 10…

 5. TWP lost its RFO status in the last round of Arts Council cutbacks (grrrrr, Arts Council)

‘ 6. Michael Pinchbeck, of being associated with Ollie Smith fame

Follow Gareth on twitter: @gm6016 – or the whole STEP UP Creatives training ensemble in one handy list.

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