This week, another introduction by a writer to their script in my website script library –
This is actually a stage play. I think I first read this script when Emily submitted it for 4screenwriting and then I subsequently went to a reading of it and I loved it both times. Emily has had real success as a dramatic writer, both in TV and more particularly theatre. And I cannot understand why this play hasn’t yet had a production – I think it’s a gem and I’m so thrilled to be able to include it in my script library. If you haven’t read it, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Thank you so much to Emily for writing this introduction to the play – I think it’s full of really valuable writing insights
Over to Emily –
‘I originally trained as an actor at RADA, and I wrote the first incarnation of Sea Change whilst doing a one-year MA in theatre writing, directing and performance at York university. It was mostly an academic course, but we had one writing class a week for one term, and I wrote a thirty-page version of Sea Change at the end of it. It was inspired by a documentary I had seen about a man with dissociative fugue, a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality, and other identifying characteristics of individuality. The state is usually short-lived (ranging from hours to days) but in this instance went on for years.
People with the disorder are usually under a serious amount of stress and they take flight from their lives and then realise they can’t remember anything about themselves. I was fascinated by this as it made me think about what made me, me. How would I change if I lost all my memories? How would I see the world differently? What memories would I like to get rid of? What memories would I desperately want to keep? And then I started to think how this could change someone’s life and the lives of those around them.
My tutor at university told me I should turn it into a full-length play and so when university ended I contacted Lloyd Trott my contemporary text tutor at RADA, and he put together a group of graduates for a read-through. I had set the play in New York after the financial crash 2008, and Lloyd felt it could incorporate the world of finance more and be a much larger play. I went away and did months of research into the global crash and the world of banking, and I expanded it to 95 pages and then we read it and it was 3 hours long and very heavy handed! So, then I did a huge editing job on it and cut a lot of the research out again! It was a steep learning curve about what a play should be – basically, do the research but don’t include all the research – this isn’t a lesson in economics, it’s a play!
Sea Change became a play about a man rediscovering the world with fresh eyes. I’m still really proud of it, especially as a first play. I staged a reading at the RADA festival and sent the play to every theatre with an open submissions policy but never received a response, however when I sent it to the C4 Screenwriters competition it caught Philip’s eye and that got me on to the 4Screenwriting course which got me an agent, so the script served a purpose.
I have now written several other plays, Pavilion which was staged in 2019 at Theatr Clwyd and is published by Faber, I’m working on a book adaptation for National Theatre Wales, I have a film project in the pipeline and a pilot in development with the BBC. My most recent play Atlantis just won the George Devine Award in 2021 and will be staged in 2024. I have learned a lot writing all these scripts, but despite never being picked up for a production, Sea Change is the one that taught me the most.’
Thank you Emily!
The next newsletter will be on Friday December 16th. I would also like to say – I will be sending out emails about your Channel 4screenwriting course 2023 in the coming week – thank you for all your entries. The reading process has been full-on but inspiring – more about the readers’ responses to the scripts and the reading process in coming newsletters.
Friday December 2nd 2022